UNAFF Celebrates 20 Years of Documentary Film and Community


by Eva Barrows
The partnership between the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) and Midpen Media Center goes way back. Jasmina Bojic, Founder and Executive Director of UNAFF began producing episodes of “UNA Forum Presents” at the media center for both UNAFF and the San Francisco Film Festival in 1994. The September 2017 episode of UNA Forum Presents previews a few of the international documentary filmmakers who will be featured during the 20th anniversary of UNAFF.

The collaboration between UNAFF and Midpen goes well beyond in studio filming. Bojic credits Karen Adams, Production Manager at Midpen for “creating a crew of wonderful volunteer videographers who actually record the sessions with the filmmakers and the panels” onsite during the festival. Because of Midpen volunteer contributions all 20 years of the film festival have been archived. The festival has grown starting with 22 films over a three-day period in 1998 to screening 60 films over a span of 11 days – creating a lot of recorded footage.

UNAFF 2017 will be held October 19-29 with Midpen hosting five film screenings in two sessions and a filmmaker panel discussion on Saturday, October 21st from 4 pm to 11 pm. The focus of the films will be on immigration with filmmakers from Canada, Somalia, Colombia and other countries. The topic of discussion will be “The Other Side of the Border.” Bojic’s goal as founder of the festival is to embrace community. Through the workshop-like experience of bringing filmmaker, audience, subject matter and nonprofits together “it actually prolongs the idea of the filmmaker’s work.”

Between the two sessions on October 21st, Midpen will host a reception for UNAFF. Activities include a tour of the media center studio and mingling over food representative of the countries featured during the film screenings. Bojic is excited to greet long time and newbie volunteers alike at the reception. “This is an open invitation to all of the volunteers for UNAFF and the Midpen Media Center volunteers who worked with us for the 20th anniversary.”

Catch the Midpen Media Center produced film, Cuba Cubano Canibano at Stanford University on Thursday, October 26 as part of UNAFF. The Zoom-In collaboration was directed and co-produced by Mary Skinner. The film shares the powerful story-filled photographs of Cuban photographer Raul Canibano.

UNAFF Volunteer opportunities are still available with trainings happening on 10/3/17 and 10/10/17. The volunteer webpage details what roles are in demand and contact information.

Schedule for Midpen Media Center hosted UNAFF 2017 Event on October 21, 2017, 4pm-11pm
4:15 PM Our Canada, My Story: Ali Duale (Canada/Somalia, 5 min)
4:30 PM The Other Side (Mexico/US, 6 min)
4:45 PM Undocumented (Colombia/US, 72 min)
6:00 PM Panel “The Other Side of the Border” (FREE Admission)
7:00 PM UNAFF Reception and Midpen Studio Tour
8:00 PM Guangzhou Dream Factory (China/Cameroon/Kenya/Nigeria/Uganda, 65 min)
9:15 PM Remember Baghdad (Iraq/Israel/UK, 69 min)

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