Former Peace Corps workers Cy Kuckenbaker (left) and Jake Wilson.
At the end of this month, a nationally recognized film festival will make its annual return to Columbia. No, it’s not time for True/False (that’s in March). The upcoming film fest on Saturday, Jan. 31, at the Missouri Theatre is the Third Goal International Film Festival, a free — yes, free — event put on by the Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.
The Third Goal International Film Festival showcases documentary and narrative films covering diverse, worldwide issues to help “promote a better understanding of other peoples” — the third goal listed in President John F. Kennedy’s original mission statement for the Peace Corps.
“Films evoke immediate emotional reactions and transport viewers across the globe,” says festivals coordinator Mike Burden. “We’ve found it a great vehicle to spark discussion among our attendees.”
A screening committee of Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Volunteers chooses the films. In general, the films are:
Set in any of the 140 countries where Peace Corps has served.
Thought-provoking, current and foster greater understanding of the culture(s) in the film.
Able to spark dialogue about pressing global issues, such as access to education, water rights and the impact of colonialism.
The festival program, which will be posted on the group’s website (www.thirdgoalfilmfest.org), will include four to six films of various lengths. Films are followed by speaker panels, which feature returned Peace Corps volunteers who served in the highlighted region, people who are from the region and local experts.
Attendees can come to one or all of the films.
“After each film, we have about 20 minutes of discussion and then another 20 minutes of break,” Burden says. “We try to make it comfortable for people to stay the whole day.”
Along with the films and discussion panels, there will be free samples of food from around the world, prepared by returned Peace Corps volunteers. Attendees will also see photos that returned Peace Corps volunteers took while serving.
The Central Missouri Returned Peace Corps Volunteers has hosted the Third Goal International Film Festival since 2007. This is the first year the festival is taking place in the Missouri Theatre, a move that followed the festival’s win of the 2014 Loret Miller Ruppe Award from the National Peace Corps Association.
“It was energizing, definitely,” Burden says of the honor. “It led to, ‘OK, let’s make this bigger; let’s take it to the Missouri Theatre and see how we can grow.’”