Film Festival

For updated information on the 19th annual International Documentary Film Festival and more, click the link to our NEW WEBSITE

Save the date!

The 19th annual International Documentary Film Festival is coming to the Golden State Theater in downtown Monterey for two nights on November 2 and 3, 2018! More information to come.





Please join us for two evenings of diverse

and award-winning films

Friday, November 3

• 4.1 Miles (Greece, 21 min)

• The New Environmentalists: FromGuatemala to the Congo (28 min)

• Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria(10 min)

• Joe’s Violin (USA, 24 min)

• A Bold Peace (Costa Rica, 57 min)

Saturday, November 4

• Irregulars (Italy, 9 min)

• East of Salinas (USA, 53 min)

• Chasing Coral (Australia, USA,Global Oceans, 91 min)

More Information on Films—Friday

4.1 Miles (Greece, 21 mins)

In the Oscar®-nominated short film 4.1 Miles, Daphne Matziaraki follows a day in the life of Kyriakos Papadopoulos, a captain in the Greek coast guard who is caught in the middle of the refugee crisis in which Europe is embroiled. Despite limited resources, the captain and his crew attempt to save thousands of migrants from drowning in the Aegean Sea. Nominated, 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.



New Environmentalist: From Guatemala to the Congo (also India, Australia, Slovenia, 28 mins)

The New Environmentalists share a common goal – safeguarding the Earth’s natural resources from exploitation and pollution, while fighting for justice in their own communities. The film is the latest in the Mill Valley Film Group’s Emmy Award-winning series featuring inspiring portraits of six passionate and dedicated activists. These are true environmental heroes who have placed themselves squarely in harm’s way to battle intimidating adversaries while building strong grassroots support.

Trailer: › Mill Valley Film Group › Videos


Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria (10 mins)

 Child, Bride, Mother: Nigeria is the story of Aisha, a young woman from northern Nigeria who escaped captivity under Boko Haram only to arrive in the region’s capital homeless and three months pregnant. Aisha recounts her terrifying odyssey and the life she is working to rebuild in a region torn apart by war. Her story is a reminder of the many girls still missing in Nigeria, and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

Joe’s Violin (USA, 24 mins)

In the Oscar®-nominated Joe’s Violin, a donated musical instrument forges an improbable friendship between 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Feingold and 12-year-old Bronx schoolgirl Brianna Perez, proving that the power of music can bring light into the darkest of times, and that a small act can have a significant impact. Nominated, 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.




A Bold Peace (Costa Rica, 57 mins)

Over 65 years ago, when Costa Rica became the largest nation in the world to disband their military, they redirected national resources towards public education and universal health care, fostering a wide middle class and a society committed to inclusion. Since then, Costa Rica has earned the number one spot in the Happy Planet Index, a ranking of countries based on measures of environmental protection and the happiness and health of its citizens. This documentary brings attention to Costa Rica’s inspirational national project, examining the true value of happiness, health, and nonviolence as a defense policy.



More Information on Films—Saturday


Irregulars (Italy, 9 mins)

Against a tellingly hypnotic factory backdrop, a refugee encapsulates the global immigration crisis in his own wrenching words. Each year 400.000 people from Africa, Asia and Middle East, try to enter Europe. They flee from war, persecution and poverty. Since the ways by land have been interrupted, they board overloaded vessels and face a dangerous and often deadly voyage across the Mediterranean.



East of Salinas (USA, 53 mins)

East of Salinas takes us to the heart of California’s “Steinbeck Country,” the Salinas Valley, to meet a bright boy and his dedicated teacher — both sons of migrant farm workers. With parents who are busy working long hours in the fields, third grader Jose Ansaldo often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, for guidance. But Jose is undocumented; he was born in Mexico. Like many other migrant children, he is beginning to understand the situation — and the opportunities that may be lost to him through no fault of his own.



Chasing Coral (Australia, USA, Global Oceans, 91 mins)

Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate.  A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world. Chasing Coral was directed by Jeff Orlowski and produced by Larissa Rhodes. The film took more than three years to shoot, and is the result of 500+ hours underwater, submissions of footage from volunteers from 30 countries, as well as support from more than 500 people from various locations around the world.





The 2017 International Documentary Film Festival is coming Friday and Saturday,

November 3rd and 4th!

Join us for two evenings of powerful and insightful films on global issues.

Please note our new venue:

The World Theater on the campus of Cal State University, Monterey Bay

Box office opens at 6 pm, films start at 7 pm.

Admission: $10 / Parking: $4

Tickets may be pre-purchased at   Please come early for best seating.

FREE for Students with ID

5260 Sixth Avenue, Seaside, CA 93955




Please see the trailers below for a preview of the great films we’ll be showing.


The New Environmentalists: From Myanmar to Scotland (2015). This film documents the stories of six unlikely heroes from around the globe who celebrate the power of the human spirit, the beauty of nature, and the diversity of world cultures as they protect the Earth for future generations. True underdogs, they wield tools as simple as art, scuba gear and the local pub to take on powerful opponents … and win. Narrated by Robert Redford, The New Environmentalists illustrates how ordinary people are effecting extraordinary change. Directed by John Antonelli, Mill Valley Filmgroup.

The New Environmentalists – from Myanmar to Scotland – (30 second trailer) from Mill Valley Film Group on Vimeo.



The Crossing (2015). The Crossing takes us along on a perilous journey with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope. On a summer night, a group of Syrians wade quietly into the Mediterranean. They are journalists, engineers, a musician and a psychologist climbing aboard an old unseaworthy fishing boat, manned by smugglers who have never before sailed beyond coastal fishing waters. They make it to Europe, only to find out that the hardest part of their journey still lies ahead. Months of uncertainty and waiting, living in one center after another, takes a toll on their spirits, as they confront what being a “refugee” means. Directed by George Kurian.

The Crossing, directed by George Kurian from Gründer Film on Vimeo.



Last Day of Freedom (2015). When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime he agonizes over his decision- should he call the police? Last Day of Freedom is a richly animated personal narrative that tells the story of Bill’s decision to stand by his brother, a Veteran returning from war, as he faces criminal charges, racism, and ultimately the death penalty. This film is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day – veterans’ care, mental health access and criminal justice. Directed by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman. Nominated to the 88th Academy Awards in Documentary Short Subject category.

Last Day of Freedom (trailer) from Nomi Talisman &Dee Hibbert-Jones on Vimeo.



A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015). This documentary follows Saba, a 19-year-old Pakistani woman who after she married a man her family did not approve of survived being shot in the head, put in a bag and thrown into a river by her father and uncle. Saba narrowly escaped becoming one of the more than 1,000 women in Pakistan killed in the name of “honor” every year (LUCY WESTCOTT, Newsweek). While exploring the complex issues facing women in Pakistan today, as well as clashing interpretations of women’s rights and family honor, and the pressures to forgive relatives for their crimes, the film chronicles the dramatic journey of a courageous young woman as she fights for her life, for her dignity and for justice. This film received the prize for Best Documentary Short Subject at the 2016 Academy Awards, and was the second Oscar for director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (also Saving Face, shown at our 2012 Film Festival).

TRAILER – A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness from Sharmeen Obaid Films on Vimeo.



Alive and Kicking: The Soccer Grannies of South Africa (2015). Filmed in the heart of Limpopo, the village grannies “Vhakegula Vhakegula” lace up their soccer boots and start kicking their way through centuries of taboos. They play serious soccer then break into laughter and traditional song as they wage a singular fight for a decent life, true health and a snatch at joy in a brutal world. Rebecca Ntsanwisi affectionately known as Mama Beka was diagnosed with colon cancer and it was during her own battle with the disease that she decided to set up a structure that could also help benefit the elderly woman in her village. Dealing with their own personal stories of physical abuse, neglect and the violent or sudden loss of loved ones, these elderly women come together to create a space. And it’s on the soccer pitch that they are able to release and celebrate being alive and physically healthy in a world where death is constantly knocking on ones doorstep. Directed by Lara-Ann de Wet.

Alive & Kicking Trailer from Lara-Ann de Wet on Vimeo.



1000 Cuts (2015). Oil pads, drilling rigs, gaseous flare-offs, all in close proximity to red rock spires, painted walls and graceful arches. What is happening to Utah’s canyon country? Photographer and climate activist Jim Balog (Chasing Ice, Mountainfilm 2012) sets off with his camera and a crew to investigate the insidious invasion of industry on one of the country’s crown jewels: the Greater Canyonlands. Directed by James Balog.

1000 Cuts Trailer from Extreme Ice Survey on Vimeo.




El Cacao (2015). In the rainforests of Panama, an indigenous cacao farmer and his family confront environmental and economic complexities as they grow, harvest and sell cacao beans for a global chocolate market. El Cacao exposes the dark side of chocolate production in Latin America by examining the economics of Fair Trade from the point of view of the indigenous farmers. While the demand for chocolate in developed nations continues to rise, the farmers in developing countries, like Panama, are rarely awarded the economic incentive promised to them.  Directed by Michelle Aguilar.

El Cacao-Official Trailer from Small Pumpkin Productions on Vimeo.



My Enemy, My Brother (2015). Zahed and Najah are two former enemies from the Iran-Iraq War who become blood brothers for life. Both men fought in the Iran-Iraq war where Zahed was ordered to go through Iraqi bunkers and drag out the dead. As he moved through the bunkers, he heard a man moaning. Zahed searched through Iraqi soldier’s pockets and pulled out a small copy of the Quran which had a photo of a young woman and child. Suddenly Zahed saw the man not as his enemy and decided to risk his own life and save him. Twenty-five years later, they meet again by sheer chance in Canada. This emotional documentary story of Najah and Zahed is a surprising affirmation of humanity that cuts across political borders. Directed by Ann Shin. Shortlisted (top 10) 88th Academy Awards Documentary Short Subject.

‘My Enemy, My Brother’ Official Trailer from Steve Guise on Vimeo.



Frame by Frame (2015). When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth. Directed by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli.

Frame by Frame – 2013 teaser from RED REEL on Vimeo.







Please join us for our 17th Annual International
Documentary Film Festival, November 11 and 12, 2016!

At the historic Golden State Theatre 

417 Alvarado St. in downtown Monterey 

Admission: $10

FREE for full-time Students with ID

More information to follow!

Please join us for our 16th Annual International
Documentary Film Festival, November 13 and 14, 2015!

FF 2015 final flyer

Tickets: There are no advance ticket sales – tickets will be sold at the Golden State Theatre
starting at 6 PM on both nights of the Festival.


Please see the trailers below for a preview of the great films we’ll be showing.

Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.

ABRAZOS tells the transformational journey of a group of U.S. citizen children who travel from Minnesota to Guatemala to meet their grandparents for the first time. After being separated for nearly two decades, these families are able to share stories, strengthen traditions and begin to reconstruct their cultural identity. There are 4.5 million U.S. citizen children living with at least one undocumented parent. This is the story of 14 of them.

Produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting, “To Kill a Sparrow” is a short film revealing the plight of women in Afghanistan who are imprisoned for so-called “moral crimes”: running away from forced marriages or domestic abuse, or falling in love and marrying against a father’s wishes. “Sparrow” tells the story of Soheila and her lover Niaz, who are sentenced to prison for daring to live together as a couple. Soheila is defying her father’s order to marry a much older man. If Soheila persists in refusing to submit to the arranged marriage, her father and brother say they will kill her “even if she moves to America.”

“The best way to understand our society is to look at one’s children.”

A Goat for a Vote follows three students in Kenya competing to become the next school president. Winning the election will not only earn them power and respect, but guarantees a role within Kenyan society in the future.

Magdalene, has to prove herself  in a boy dominated school which has never been led by a girl. She has the impossible task to unite all girls in her fight for equal rights. Harry, from the poor side of town, hopes to win so he will be able to take care of his family in the future. He struggles against the popular Said, who is a natural born leader with a disarming smile

After his successful debut ‘Wavumba’ (Best New Director, Tribeca Film Festival 2012) director Jeroen van Velzen returns to Kenya, where he spent part of his youth.

In addition to our Annual Film Festival, we are holding a student film festival contest. Please see the flyer below for more information if you or someone you know would like to participate.


Past International Documentary Film Festivals

Film Festival poster


As in past years, this outstanding film festival screens diverse international documentary films designed to wake up, educate and mobilize viewers around critical global issues.  A volunteer Film Festival committee spends over six months searching key documentary film sites for excellent and recent issue-oriented documentary films, in order to select the nine films which will be screened in this year’s festival.

Over 2000 community members attend this annual event, which has become a hallmark of the UNA-USA Monterey Bay Chapter.

Thanks to continued generous community support, admission is $10.00 per session of three films, with free admission for all full-time students with a student ID. There are no reservations or advance ticket sales, and there is open seating at the event.

Brief descriptions of our 2014 films:

Rape in the Fields (53 minutes)

“This is a story about what many women go through to keep those jobs and food on the table.” Ladino was an 18-year veteran of the fields of Monterey County when one day her supervisor took her to a remote location and sexually assaulted her. Like many undocumented workers, she feared for her job and kept her mouth shut.

Karama Has No Walls (26 minutes)

Karama Has No Walls, an Oscar-nominated short documentary, is set amidst Yemen’s 2011 uprising. The film illustrates the nature of the Yemeni revolution in stark contrast to the country’s gross violations of human rights.

Queen of the Sun (82 minutes)

What are the bees telling us? This film is a profound alternative look at the global bee crisis from award-winning filmmaker Taggart Siegel.

Underwater Dreams (85 minutes)

Underwater Dreams is the uplifting story about how the high school sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants learned to build prize winning underwater robots.

American Arab (60 minutes)

The film follows the personal story of Alshaibi’s life in post-9/11 America and concentrates on sensitive issues pertaining to race and identity.

Age of Aluminum (52 minutes)

Aluminum is everywhere — not only in soda cans but also in foods, cosmetics, and many medications, including most vaccinations.

Trashed (68 minutes)

The film shows the extent and effects of the global waste problem around the world. The beauty of our planet from space is shown in stark contrast to the scenes of human detritus across the globe — vast landscapes covered in tons of rubbish, rivers barely visible under a tide of plastic.

Not My Life (68 minutes)

Not My Life is the first film to depict the cruel and dehumanizing practices of human trafficking and modern slavery on a global scale. It was filmed on five continents, in a dozen countries. Not My Life takes viewers into a world where millions of children are exploited, every day, through an astonishing array of practices including forced labor, domestic servitude, begging, sex tourism, sexual violence, and child soldiering.

Sand Wars (74 minutes)

Most of us think of sand as a complimentary ingredient of any beach vacation. Yet those seemingly insignificant grains of silica surround our daily lives. Every house, skyscraper, and glass building, every bridge, airport, and sidewalk in our modern society depends on sand. We use it to manufacture optical fiber, cell phone components and computer chips. We find it in our toothpaste, powdered foods and even in our glass of wine, including the glass.




Please join us for the 14th Annual International Film Festival, presented by the Monterey Bay Chapter of the United Nations Association (UNA) of the U.S.A.

Dates:  Friday and Saturday, November 1 and 2, 2013, at 7 p.m.

Sunday afternoon, November 3, at 1:30 p.m. 

Location:  Golden State Theatre – 417 Alvarado Street, in downtown Monterey 

Doors open one hour before each session.  Thanks to continued generous community support, admission to this film festival is $5.00 per session of three films, with free admission for all full-time students with a student ID. There are no reservations or advance ticket sales, and there is open seating at the event.  For more information about UNA, visit our Facebook page at:

This year’s festival is made possible through the generous support from the following sponsors:  The Arts Council for Monterey County, with a grant from the Monterey County Board of Supervisors; City of Monterey; Old Monterey Business Association; KAZU 90.3 FM Radio; KRXA 540 AM Radio; KSBW-TV; Monterey County Weekly; The Herald; Jack in the box; Kerry Lee Remarkable Jewelry (of Carmel); Sotheby’s International Realty; the Wild Plum Cafe, Bistro, & Bakery (of Monterey); California State University Monterey Bay; the Monterey Institute of International Studies; and Santa Catalina School.

As in past years, this important film festival screens diverse international documentary films, all designed to wake up, educate and sometimes mobilize viewers around critical global issues.

Among the five feature films to be presented this year are:

Green Gold, in which filmmaker, John Liu takes on a tour of large scale ecosystem restoration projects around the world;

Academy Award Nominee, 5 Broken Cameras, a first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance following a West Bank family’s evolution over five years of upheaval;

Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives, a film that may change your diet, help you protect your family, and accelerate the tipping point against genetically modified organisms (GMO’s);

Chasing Ice, one of the most important environmental documentaries you will ever see depicting the melting or our Earth due to climate change; and

The Fourth World, a journey to Guatemala, Kenya, and the Philippines to meet people caught up in the largest migration in the history of the world.

14th Int’l Film Festival Flyer


November 3 – 5, 2011

12th Annual International Film Festival

Presented by our Monterey Bay UNA Chapter

Outstanding international documentary films at the beautiful and historic Golden State Theatre

417 Alvarado Street, Monterey

Thursday evening, November 3, 7:00 pm

Humanity Explored – 7 min – many countries –

The Warriors of Qiugang – 39 min – China —

Benghazi Rising – 53 min – Libya —

Triangle Returns – 9 min – US, Bangladesh —

The Price of Sex – 73 min – Moldova, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Dubai —

Friday evening, November 4, 7:00 pm

Poster Girl — 38 min – US, Iraq —

Which Way Home – 63 min – Mexico, US, Guatemala, Honduras —

Blood in the Mobile – 82 min – Congo, Finland —

Saturday afternoon, November 5, 1:00 pm

The 10 Conditions of Love – 54 min – China, US

Strangers No More – 40 min – Israel —

Killing in the Name – 39 min – Jordan, Indonesia —

Sarabah – 60 min – Senegal, Germany —

Saturday evening, November 5, 7:00 pm

The Dark Side of Chocolate – 46 min – Ivory Coast, Mali –

Sun City Picture House – 27 min – Haiti —

Gasland – 106 min – US —

Admission is  $5 per session, with FREE admission for students with ID.

No advance reservations, cash at the door, open seating.

Street parking is free in downtown Monterey in the evenings.

On Saturday afternoon, the City of Monterey is offering FREE parking in the parking garage behind Wells Fargo Bank, at Franklin and Tyler. Enter the lot, take a ticket, and on your way out just say you have been at the International FIlm Festival.

We appreciate the support of our Community Sponsors this year:

Arts Council for Monterey County

City of Monterey

KAZU — 90.3 FM Radio

KRXA — 540 AM Radio

Kerry Lee Remarkable Jewelry, of Carmel 
Monterey County Weekly

Monterey Institute of International Studies

Old Monterey Business Association
Portola Hotel & Spa

Santa Catalina School

Sotheby’s International Realty

Wild Plum Cafe and Bakery, of Monterey