Picturing Peace

A new film series brings international classics to Vashon’s silver screens.


Arts Editor

Islander Nan Joy is already an artist, activist and psychotherapist, but she’s recently added a new title to her resumé — film festival director.

Joy is currently putting the finishing touches on Vashon’s first-ever Peace Film Festival, a series of six films that explore anti-war stories and themes of peace. Screenings are slated to take place throughout November at Vashon Theatre and Café Luna.

Joy, 55, is a film lover who said she first came up with the idea for the festival about a year ago.

“My interest was sparked by my love of art, and particularly fiction, and my frustration with a lack of dialogue around more creative ways to resolve conflict,” Joy said. “If we want to create something, then we need to build a picture in our heads, so we can step into that reality.”

In keeping with that philosophy, Joy selected a far-ranging program of international fiction films, including musicals, comedies, dramas and even one animated film.

In narrowing down the list of possible films, Joy said she looked for “a low violence content, as well as a diversity of experience, culture and impact.”

The festival will open with “Hair,” the 1979 musical directed by Miloš Forman.

“‘Hair’ is a celebration of life, from the lens of the youth movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s,” Joy said.

The second film in the series is the 1988 Japanese animated film “Grave of the Fireflies,” directed by Isao Takahata.

The film’s story focuses on two children caught up in the fire bombing of Kobe. Film critic Ernest Rister called the film “the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.”

Nan Joy will facilitate the post-film discussion.

“Two Women,” a 1960 Oscar-winning film directed by Italian director Vittorio De Sica and starring Sophia Loren, takes place in Rome at the end of World War II and centers around a mother trying to protect her daughter from the horrors of war. Karen du Four des Champs will facilitate the post-film discussion.

“King of Hearts,” the fourth film, directed by Philippe de Broca, tells the story of a small French town that forgets about the residents in an asylum and leaves them behind with a German bomb set to go off.

“This film is the next closest to ‘Hair’ to being a true peace film,” said Joy.

Kate Hunter of Vashon Islanders for Peace will facilitate the post-film discussion.

“Das Boot,” a 1981 German film directed by Wolfgang Peterson, is about German navy soldiers trapped in a submarine in the Atlantic.

“I chose this film as an example of the extreme stress that soldiers must endure in war,” said Joy.

Jim Hauser of the Vashon Friends will facilitate the post-film discussion.

The festival will conclude with a screening of Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film classic, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.”

A black comedy, “Dr. Strangelove” tells the story of how a mentally unstable officer could create global nuclear destruction. This absurdist comedy stars Peter Sellers in multiple roles, including the role of Dr. Strangelove himself.

“I will never forget the vision of Slim Pickens riding a missile through the sky like a bucking bronco. Amazing,” said Joy.

Bill Moyer of The Backbone Campaign will facilitate the post-film discussion.

Admission to all festival screenings is by donation.

Joy said she was surprised, early in the festival planning, to learn that she would have to pay rentals for all the films but has been gratified to receive sponsorships for the festival from several Island businesses and organizations, including Vashon Film Society, Café Luna and Vashon Theatre.

Joy said she will donate any profits from the festival, after paying costs, to a peace organization.