Enthusiastic Audiences in Peru Applaud PCAH's AFI Project 20/20Enthusiastic Audiences in Peru Applaud PCAH's AFI Project 20/20

In June, AFI Project: 20/20 completed a trip to Peru, which was one of eight countries and U.S. cities that the program's twelve American and International filmmakers have visited since last fall's debut at AFI FEST. Sold out screenings, workshops with students and discussions with audiences are typical for these filmmakers as they travel to film festivals, universities and cultural centers in the U.S. and overseas.

The PCAH led program focuses on engaging audiences here and abroad by using the common language of film. Two very different films and filmmakers found that their movie's working-class themes resonated in Peru. American Doug Pray's documentary Big Rig takes the audience on a journey across the U.S. in the company of truckers and Richie Mehta, a Canadian of Indian descent, creates a powerful story in Hindi about a pedicab driver in New Delhi.

From the more formal settings of meetings and screenings for university students in Lima to a poor working class neighborhood of Villa El Salvador on the outskirts of Lima, the filmmakers attracted enthusiastic audiences. One group, Jóvenes Adolescentes Decididos A Triunfar (JEDAT) teaches young people media arts to get them off the streets and four of these young filmmakers met with Pray and Mehta to discuss their work and get tips on making movies. The films also screened for hundreds of local school children.

The U.S. embassy staff in Peru also sent the films and filmmakers to Iquitos in the Amazon basin; to Arequipa in the foothills of the Andes; and to Cusco in the sacred valley of the Incas. For local filmmaker Miquel Berrada of Arequipa, hosting these filmmakers was a rare opportunity to share expertise since he and other Peruvian filmmakers must go to Lima or overseas to make their films. AFI Project: 20/20 not only allows filmmakers opportunities to share their craft, but audiences in the U.S. and abroad are exposed to themes and stories not usually told by commercial films.

Before coming to Peru, AFI Project 20/20 had visited UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Hong Kong and Beijing, China, as well as Honolulu, Santa Fe, Dallas, St. Louis and Waterville, Maine. Although not quite as remote as Iquitos, Peru, Waterville is a small rural community in south central Maine that created a festival using AFI Project: 20/20 films for local residents. The three day event of film, food and live music featured a concert by 11-time Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Dennis Lambert, the subject of Of All the Things, and a Russian Easter dinner hosted by Colby College students and professors for Russian filmmaker Alexandra Westmeir. Pitching in to bring the Lumina Film Festival to life were the locally-based Maine International Film Festival and the Colby Museum of Art, as well as the Maine Film Board, Maine Arts Commission and Maine Tourism. The next stops on this year's journey for Project 20/20 will be a return to UNESCO in Paris, South Africa and India.