UNAFF: The Mother of All Documentary Film Festivals

14th annual UN Association Film Fest to show 70 documentaries, 20 world premiers.

70 films. 20 world premiers. Incalculable opportunities to learn.

This weekend marks the start of the 14th annual United Nations Association Film Festival, which this year turns its curatorial attention to the subject of education, in addition to other pressing topics such as freedom of the press, food-related health issues, and the controversy around document leaking.

The festival kicks off Friday night with screenings from Africa, India and China, including the world premier of The Thing That Happened, the story of how Ugandan child soldiers displaced by war miraculously found an education amidst the chaos.

The film is followed by Pink Saris, a film described by UNAFF as an “unflinching but often amusing look at an unlikely group of political activists and their charismatic leader, Sampat Pal, who escaped an abusive marriage to become a champion for beleaguered women.”

Friday’s main event is the world premier of Once Upon a Rooftop, a Chinese film that brings viewers onto the rooftops of Hong Kong, where parents have settled down with their families in order to help their children enter the city’s schools.

Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa will be kicking off the festival before Friday’s screenings at an Opening Night Party at , which includes a live performance by Mira Veda. Invited filmmakers and celebrities will be in attendance.

In addition to the week’s worth of films, UNAFF will also bring back the UNAFF & Kids Program, which on Sunday will screen Caravan of the Books—Kenya’s Mobile Camel Library, about a group of camels who bring books to the remote villages of Northern Kenya. There will be topical games and activities throughout the day.

Continuing the theme of children’s education, on Monday, October 24, UNAFF presents To Educate a Girl, which “offers a compelling look at the lives of young women who are striving to achieve their dreams in the face of conflict, poverty and gender bias,” according to UNAFF.

In 2000, 110 million children in the world were not in school—two thirds of them were girls, according to the film.

The theme of this year’s festival is “Education is a Human Right,” and the UNAFF in Schools program, which began in 2005, will Tuesday offer screenings at Stanford, Palo Alto High School, Eastside College Preparatory School, and the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula.

One of the films to be screened Tuesday is Original Minds, which examines how a one-size-fits-all education system often leaves kids who have learning disabilities to suffer from lack of self-esteem.

The festival then continues in San Francisco, the , and venues throughout Palo Alto, which films touching on everything from the world’s largest garbage dump to modern revolutions to an intimate portrait of Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks mastermind.

In addition to the films, there will also be seven panel discussions, all free of charge including one at Palo Alto Patch headquarters Monday evening.

The full program and details are available here, or by calling 650-724-5544.


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