TRAVERSE CITY — Marian Kromkowski and Gina Aranki had separate reasons for wanting to found MidEast:JustPeace in 2012, but the message they wanted to convey in the community was the same.
Kromkowski had been deeply moved by the story of a Palestinian man she met in Boston through her daughter, and felt compelled to do something. Aranki’s reason is more personal — her mother and father were born in Palestine and she still has family living there.
“Our goal was and still is to just educate the public with regard to what is happening in Palestine,” Kromkowski said.
“The idea was to bring some perspective and understanding of the issues faced by the people of the region — in particular the occupation of Palestinian land,” Aranki explained.
On March 8 and 9, the first MidEast:JustPeace Film Festival, “From Palestine to Traverse City,” will be held at the InsideOut Gallery, 229 Garland Street.
“This film festival is an effort to revive ourselves and remind people that even though a lot of time has passed since we first started doing this work, the issues haven’t really gone away,” Aranki said.
The Oscar-nominated 2011 documentary, “Five Broken Cameras,” will open the festival at 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 8. Co-directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi, the film is structured around the destruction of Burnat’s cameras. The filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of turmoil.
Following at 9 p.m. is a concert with Joshua Davis, who will perform songs from his new CD, “A Miracle of Birds,” inspired by his travels with On the Ground for the Run Across Palestine.
The film, “Israel and Palestine: a Very Short Introduction 2012,” will be shown at the start of each session. Produced by Jewish Voice for Peace, this short film takes on the questions: What are Palestinians and Israelis fighting about, and what is the solution?
The second session on Saturday at 10 a.m. focuses on international women’s issues in honor of International Women’s Day. At 1 p.m., the topic is a story about the only two international journalists in Gaza, as Israel bombarded and invaded in 2008-09. At 3:30 p.m., the theme is economic and cultural deprivations of Palestine. The last event at 6:30 is a semi-biographical portrait of Palestinians, living as a minority in their own homeland between 1948 and present day, from the acclaimed director of “DIvIne InterventIon,” Elia Suleiman. The festival will close with Palestinian sweets and finger foods.
“We really feel this film festival is a way to humanize the average Palestinians who eat and drink, live and love just like anybody,” Aranki said, noting its aim is “helping to overcome the fear and realize that people are the same no matter where we live.”
Tickets are $25 for an all-film package or $8 per individual event. Tickets for the Joshua Davis concert are $15 general admission or $20 for reserved seating. They can be purchased at Oryana, Higher Grounds Coffee or InsideOut Gallery.
For more information, visit www.mideastjustpeace.org.