Interview with Executive Director Nina Streich (Global Peace Film Festival)

Since its inception in 2003, the GPFF has shown over 500 films from around the world. The critically acclaimed programming has included Academy Award winning, nominated and short-listed films. In his blog, former Orlando Sentinel film critic Roger Moore called the GPFF “…one of the best festivals in this part of the country” and said, “Global Peace has the best documentaries of any festival.” GPFF’s leadership believes that to further its mission, success should not simply be measured by attendance numbers but by the engagement the films inspire from the audience – at the festival and beyond.

Interview with Nina Streich

Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?

Nina Streich: The Global Peace Film Festival (GPFF) is about actively engaging audiences to do something about the issues in the films they see. Watch Films, Get Involved, Change Things is our tagline and we seek films, mainly documentary but narratives too, that have been produced to have an impact on the issues they address. Filmmakers find enthusiastic audiences and meet leaders of organizations that are working on the issues the their films address. In the past few years, we have begun to offer other services for filmmakers beyond the festival including impact consulting and fiscal sponsorship.

MT: What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2016)?

NS: Most films are followed by discussions with filmmakers and also representatives from local organizations that work on the issue(s) raised in the films. The Q&As are often longer than those at most film festivals. Filmmakers find the audiences engaged and interested in their films as well as the issues they raise. Festival staff and volunteers work to make the GPFF a warm and welcoming experience for filmmakers and audiences alike.

MT: What are the qualifications for the selected films?

NS: We program features and shorts – documentary, narrative and animation. The majority of the program is non-fiction but we always want to include fiction work. We have always programmed films that are “mediums” – between 40 and 65 minutes. Our approach to the definition of “peace” is very broad and includes everything from conflict resolution, social inequality (class, race, gender, age, mobility, etc.), environment/environmental justice, LGBT rights, fair trade and new business models, human trafficking, sports and recreation, comedy/satire. We look for films that inspire and educate. We also include an online selection of films, mainly shorts, in addition to the main program, during the week of the festival.

MT: What motivates you and your team to do this festival?

NS: We are motivated to present a great program that addresses the many aspects of peace and produce an event that is a catalyst for community engagement.

MT: How has the festival changed since its inception?

NS: The festival has grown in both size and impact. 2016 will be our 14th festival. We recognized the changing model of film festivals and decided early on to steer the festival in a direction that served the community in a deeper way, beyond bringing a crowd to a downtown venue for a passive viewing experience. We sought to develop relationships with the filmmaking community that focused on the “why” motivating filmmakers. This involved moving to pull other partners into the festival to build a new structure that would serve as a networking hub. This includes schools, libraries and universities to add depth, variety and timeliness to their community offerings. We reached out to community groups to bring the same benefits of our programming to help educate, energize and increase their member base. Our programming has always been centered on active engagement with our audience.

MT: Where do you see the festival by 2020?

NS: As the festival has evolved, we have begun to offer services to filmmakers (whether their work has been in the festival or not) including impact consulting and fiscal sponsorship.

MT: What film have you seen the most times in your life?

NS: I’m always looking for and want to see new films so I can’t think of what I’ve seen the most times! Rather than the films that I’ve seen the most times, I think more about the films that have influenced me the most. It’s a long list…

MT: In one sentence, what makes a great film?

NS: A great story.

MT: How is the film scene in your city?

NS: I live in New York and the festival is in Central Florida. New York, of course has an incredible film scene. Central Florida doesn’t have anywhere near the size of the film scene as New York, but it is just as engaged, passionate and exciting.

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Nina Streich has an extensive background in both the film/TV/media industries and in the political arena. She held senior management positions in other film festivals prior to creating the Global Peace Film Festival in 2003 including Festival Manager of the Newport International Film Festival and Development Director of the Nantucket Film Festival. She began her career as a film editor, cutting trailers and marketing material for over 50 major studio and independent features, including The Elephant Man, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Scandal. In politics, she has worked for many candidates, from local to presidential campaigns. She was a coordinator of the Inauguration of Mayor David N. Dinkins in New York City in 1990 and was appointed Deputy Film Commissioner for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting. After leaving the Mayor’s Office, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the NYC Host Committee for the 1994 Grammy Host Committee. An accomplished events producer, she has organized film premiers, music festivals, conferences, parades, street fairs and press conferences. She has produced several documentaries on subjects she is passionate about.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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