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COD film fest takes progressive look at social, political issues
By Ann Piccininni | Daily Herald Correspondent

Director Babak Amini, left, and Meisam Riahi, director of photography, check scenes of "Angels Die in the Soil." The film is scheduled to be shown about 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19, at the College of DuPage.


Photos courtesy of DAWN

A scene from "I Don't Feel like Dancing," a seven-minute short, is planned to be shown about 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19.


"Toyland," a 14-minute film from Germany, is slated to be shown about 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18.


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Published: 10/16/2008 12:06 AM

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If a title like filmmaker Michael Moore's "Slacker Uprising" doesn't reel you in, then maybe Bill Moyers' film "Buying the War" will.

A slew of provocatively titled films, including those two, will be screened this weekend from 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18 and 19, during the Progressive Film Festival at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn.

The free showings, interspersed with lectures and discussions, are presented by DuPage Against War Now, DAWN, a Glen Ellyn-based peace and justice group, in conjunction with the COD's human services program and Office of International Education.

Though the films tackle disparate themes, all reflect a socially and politically progressive attitude, said filmmaker Dawn Westlake.

"They are all very, very different," said Westlake, a Wheaton native who is returning to DuPage County from her Los Angeles home to emcee the festival. "They're definitely progressive. The ones that are going to be playing definitely have a peace theme."

Several of Westlake's own films, including her newest, "68 Degrees and Clear," will be shown. Another of her films, "A Life of Death," features a performance delivered by her father, Donald G. Westlake.

"They're short films," she said, adding that several other films in the festival are feature-length movies.

College of DuPage philosophy and religious studies professor Werner Krieglstein plays a principal role in Polish filmmaker Pawel Kuczynski's film, "Light Denied."

The 64-minute film explores the relationships between reason and intuition, rational thought and spirituality.

"It's fairly heavy and deep, but I think it's also fairly accessible," said Krieglstein, adding the movie was filmed both in Helsinki, Finland and in Warsaw, Poland.

"It's a fairly extensive project," he said.

Krieglstein said his career as a theater director and actor includes work in Germany and, more locally, in Kalamazoo, Mich., and at the University of Chicago.

He said he plans to be at the festival.

"I will be introducing the film and I'll be there for a discussion afterward," he said.

Film summaries

"68 Degrees & Clear"

An 11-year-old mugger saves the life of a suicidal widow - just another day in L.A., where it's always 68 degrees and clear.

"Akira Kurosawa's Dreams"

Akira Kurosawa, considered one of the 20th century's greatest filmmakers, offers two short films about the costs of war, loss of innocence, respect for the environment and the dangers of nuclear power.

"Angels Die in the Soil"

An Iraqi-Kurdish girl, 14, earns a living for her ill father by selling Iranian soldiers' bones remaining from the Iran-Iraq war. One day she comes across a terrorists incident involving an American soldier. She involves herself by trying to help him.

"Buying the War"

The Bush administration marketed and sold the war in Iraq to the American people. How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda? Veteran journalist Bill Moyers pieces together the political spin that shaped the public mind before, during, and following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"Don't Let it all Unravel"

A short but poignant message about the earth and environment.

"Dottie: The Little Girl with the Big Voice"

Dottie, 5, seems quite ordinary except that she does have a special power: she is able to positively impact the world around her using her "quite large and incredibly humongous" voice. Her story encourages children to speak up for what they believe in, and reminds each of us that we can make a difference.

"I Don't Feel Like Dancing"

Somewhere in a war zone, three young soldiers divert themselves from everyday war life. One of them becomes aware of a native girl. The comrades follow her.

"I Know I'm Not Alone"

In 2004, Michael Franti traveled to the war zones of Iraq, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Franti and his team went to the core of the red-zoned war torn neighborhoods of Baghdad the West Bank and Gaza Strip armed with only a guitar, video cameras and the intent to experience firsthand the human cost of war.

"An Inconvenient Truth"

From director Davis Guggenheim comes the Sundance Film Festival hit offering a passionate and inspirational look at one man's fervent crusade to halt the progress of global warming by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.

"Just Like the Movies"

This 21-minute film is accompanied by the haunting and compelling score composed by Paolo Marzocchi and uses more than 400 clips from 52 Hollywood films to reconstruct the events of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City.

"A Life of Death"

Wheaton resident Don Westlake penned the poem, and daughter Dawn paired the words with visuals that make for an unforgettable message. The film presents the cost of this irony by poetically answering the question: What is the price of lasting peace? The film explores the irony of waging war to establish peace. The film has won eight awards and was nominated for the Golden Horde, the Chinese Oscar, in Taipei in November 2004.

"Last Dog in Rwanda"

A boy who spends his days playing with toy soldiers grows up to photograph real ones in action in this short comedy-drama from news photographer turned filmmaker Jens Assur. As a child, David was captivated by images of war and spent hours playing with models of tanks and aircraft that he'd built. In 1994, David, 24, is no less obsessed with war and is a photojournalist. David is sent to Rwanda with Mats, a reporter, to cover the bloody civil conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis.

"Light Denied"

"Light" is a symbol of Dionysian values advocated by Friedrich Nietzsche but denied by our civilization. Can we immerse ourselves in this light and remain sane? This story follows a personal journey with three philosophers, and includes a feature role by Werner Krieglstein, a professor at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn.

"The Pawn"

After losing her journalist husband in Iraq, a widow trades in her faith and her soul at a surreal pawnshop, in hope of finding a quick fix for her grief. This film has won 8 awards in the U.S., Italy and Japan.


A morning in March, a passenger car on a train, and a child playing hide and seek with his father leads to an everyday miracle.

"Slacker Uprising"

In October 2004, just before presidential election in the United States, Michael Moore went on a 62-city tour through the undecided states to register and rally young would-be voters to vote for a change. Moore was joined by some of the country's most politically involved musicians and artists, including Eddie Vedder, Steve Earle, Roseanne Barr, Joan Baez, and Viggo Mortensen. The documentary showcases what the filmmaker calls the birth of a new political generation.


Tells the story about the worst time in Germany through the eyes of a child. Set in 1940, it is a film about guilt, responsibility, small and big lies.


A little boy is the guest of honor at a big family banquet. He is emotionally lost in the waves of respect and attention. Meanwhile, his sister decides to start a new life - a decision against unwritten family rules. Each of them receive a gift from their loved ones, which will change their lives.


Mark is half-American, half-Slovak with strong beliefs. In Slovakia he meets Tomas, a shop assistant, who is wearing a T-shirt that offends him.


In his documentary feature, "Uncovered: The War on Iraq," filmmaker Robert Greenwald chronicles the Bush administration's determined quest to invade Iraq following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The film deconstructs the administration's case for war through interviews with U.S intelligence and defense officials, foreign service experts, U.N. weapons inspectors and others.

Progressive Film Festival times

Saturday, Oct. 18 - 2 p.m. to midnight

• 2:15 p.m. "I Know I'm Not Alone," Michael Franti (USA), 95 mins.

• 4 p.m. - Shorts about religious intolerance: "Toyland," Jochen Freydank (Germany), 14 mins; "Tradition," Peter Ladkani (Germany), 9 minutes; "Tricko," Hossein Martin Fazeli (Canada), 11 mins.

• 5 p.m. - Shorts about terrorist attacks in the U.S. and Spain: "Salvador," Abdelatif Hwidar (Spain), 11 mins.; "Just Like in the Movies," Michal Kosakowski (Austria), 21 mins., Austria

• 6 p.m. Four short films by Dawn Westlake: "A Life of Death," 8 mins.; "The Pawn," 10 mins., "68 Degrees and Clear," 12 mins.; "Dottie: The Little Girl with the Big Voice," 11 mins.

• 7 to 8 p.m. Reception, meet Dawn Westlake

• 8 p.m. "Buying the War," Bill Moyers (USA), 87 mins.

• 10 p.m. "The Last Dog of Rwanda," Andreas Fock (Sweden), 30 mins.

• 10:30 p.m. "Light Denied," Pawel Kuczynski (USA/Poland), 62 mins.

Sunday, Oct. 19 - 2 p.m. to midnight

• 2:15 p.m. "Slacker Uprising," Michael Moore (USA), 97 mins.

• 4 p.m. Soldier's tales: "A Life of Death," Dawn Westlake (USA), 8 mins; "I Don't Feel like Dancing," Evi Goldbrunner and Joachim Dollhopf (Germany), 7 mins; "Angels Die in the Soil," Babak Amini (Iran), 30 mins.

• 4:45 p.m. Q&A with Wheaton poet Donald G. Westlake and his daughter, filmmaker Dawn Westlake

• 5 p.m. Our Troubled Environment: "Don't Let it All Unravel," Sarah Cox (United Kingdom), 2 mins.; "An Inconvenient Truth," Davis Guggenheim (USA), 100 mins.

• 7 p.m. "Uncovered," Robert Greenwald (USA), 80 mins.

• 8:30 p.m. Dawn Westlake presents: Using Film to Make a Personal or Social Statement - "A Life of Death," 8 mins; "The Pawn," 10 mins.; "68 Degrees and Clear," 12 mins; "Dottie: The Little Girl with the Big Voice," 11 mins.

• 9:30 p.m. Akira Kurosawa's Dreams, selected shorts, "The Tunnel" and "Mount Fuji in Red," 45 mins., USA