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An Appalachian Summer Festival Explores the World through Film on Wednesdays Beginning July 7

Seeking to expand perspectives, engender empathy and deepen compassion, An Appalachian Summer Festival’s popular Weicholz Global Film Series, which promotes globalized learning through storytelling, will showcase four powerful stories about the personal toll of human migration, beginning July 7. All of these award-winning international films have earned both critical and audience acclaim from film festivals around the world. This year’s film series is virtual only; films will be streamed every Wednesday in July at 7pm, and links will be active for 24 hours from the time of the scheduled showing. Tickets are $5 per household, and registration is required at AppSummer.org or by calling the Schaefer Center box office at 828-262-4046. An Appalachian Summer Festival takes place July 2-31, and features a diverse mix of music, dance, theatre, film and visual arts events, both in-person and virtually, throughout the month.

Says festival film curator Dr. John Pfeifer of his selection process: “The immigration theme seemed particularly relevant to me in this day and time. I began to search for films about human migration from around the world. The need to escape harsh conditions and the quest to find a better life in a strange land is a universal theme that impacts people from almost every country on the planet. Unfortunately, immigration is often viewed more as a political issue rather than a humanitarian crisis.”

This year’s batch of films highlight human migration stories from around the world, including the 1995 forced migration of Bosnian Muslims from their homeland by Orthodox Serbian forces in Srebrenica; the illegal immigration of two Myanmar refugees seeking a better life in Thailand; the plight of Filipino migrant workers serving as health care workers, housekeepers and construction laborers in Israel and their Israeli born children; and the portrayal of a young Chinese man who assumes a false identity in order to stay in Japan and to apprentice under a kind, elderly soba chef.

“I hope [viewers] will appreciate each film for its ability to help us all see refugees and immigration policy with more humanity and empathy,” says Pfeifer. 

Dr. Pfeifer’s complete essay on why this theme resonated with him is available here.

The Helene and Stephen Weicholz Global Film Series: 

Quo Vadis, Aida? (2021) – Wednesday, July 7

7pm, virtual stream

Written film lecture with Dr. John Pfeifer available online herehttps://appsummer.org/event/quo-vadis-aida/

On July 11, 1995, the Serbian Army, under the command of Gen. Ratko Mladic, overran the town of Srebrenica, which had been declared a safe haven by the United Nations.  Along with thousands of other helpless Muslim civilians, Aida, a local teacher and translator for the UN seeks refuge for her family at a UN camp led by Dutch soldiers. As an insider to the negotiations between the UN forces and General Mladic’s troops, Aida must find a way to save her husband and two young sons from one of the worst atrocities of the ethnic wars that forever changed the former country of Yugoslavia. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina; In Bosnian, Serbo-Croatian, Dutch and English with English Subtitles; Directed by Jasmine Zbanic, 103 minutes

The Road to Mandalay (2016) – Wednesday, July 14

7pm, virtual stream

Written film lecture with Dr. John Pfeifer available online here

Two young Burmese immigrants flee their country’s civil war and desperate poverty to work illegally in Thailand. During their journey from Myanmar to Thailand, Guo falls in love with Lianqing. In Bangkok, they both find different ways to make enough money to realize their dreams. Guo gets a job at his cousin’s textile factory while Lianqing works 14-hour days washing dishes.  Having found work, Lianqing focuses her efforts on acquiring an illegal Thai ID card. When she achieves this goal, the young couple’s relationship is in question.
Myanmar, Thailand; In Burmese with English Subtitles; Not Rated, Directed by Midi Z (2016); 108 mins

Transit (2014) – Wednesday, July 21

7pm, virtual stream

Written film lecture with Dr. John Pfeifer available online here

Janet, Moishe and Tina have left their homeland in search of a better life in Israel. Siblings, Janet and Moishe, are among the 40,000 legal foreign guest workers from the Philippines who serve as health care workers, housemaids, construction laborers, and farm hands. Tina arrives at her Aunt Janet’s Tel Aviv doorstep illegally with the hopes of finding work and getting a work visa. Migrant workers are not allowed to bring their families to Israel, and children born to Filipino workers in Israel are not granted citizenship or residency even if their other parent is an Israeli citizen. When Janet and Moishe learn of a new law that allows the Israeli government to deport the children of foreign workers regardless of how long they have lived in Israel, they force their own children into hiding.

Phillipines/Israel; In Hebrew, Filipino, Tagalog, and English with English subtitles; Not Rated, Directed by Hannah Espia (2014), 103 mins

Complicity (2014) – Wednesday, July 28

7pm, virtual stream

Written film lecture with Dr. John Pfeifer available online here

Cheng Liang is a young Chinese immigrant living illegally in Japan who gets caught up in a theft ring, stealing water heaters and the like from homes and businesses in order to survive. Desperate for legitimate work, he buys and assumes a false identity at a considerable cost. With his new identity, Liu Wei gets a job in a traditional Japanese soba restaurant run by an aging soba master and his kind daughter. He starts his new life in Japan while always fearing to have his real identity disclosed and to be deported back to China.

Japan/China; In Japanese and Mandarin with English subtitles; Not Rated, Directed by Kei Chikaura (2018), 116 mins

For a complete festival schedule, visit AppSummer.org. Or call the box office at 828-262-4046.

Tickets for An Appalachian Summer Festival:

With ticket prices ranging from $5-$100, as well as several free events, the festival offers unique opportunities for residents and visitors to create arts experiences suited to their individual artistic tastes and budgets.To purchase tickets or to register for virtual events, call or visit the Schaefer Center box office at 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046. Tickets can also be purchased online at AppSummer.org. Registration is required for all streamed events with the exception of the chamber music concerts supported by The Violin Channel.