A festival of documentaries: One woman’s impact

Jasmina Bojic, the founder of the United Nations Association Film Festival. (Courtesy Jasmina Bojic)

One of the greatest things about our corner of America is that a single person can have huge impact. It doesn’t take wealth or lineage or fame to change the way we look at the world.

Consider the story of Jasmina Bojic, a veteran lecturer at Stanford who two decades ago founded the United Nations Association Film Festival on the mid-Peninsula.

Jasmina Bojic

Film festivals are common fare in the Bay Area: Bojic (pronounced BOY-itch) recently counted 54. But few have the staying power or the influence of the UNAFF, which specializes in documentaries.

Over the years, documentaries shown at UNAFF have been nominated for 30 academy awards and won seven. Forget Cannes: We have Stanford, Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

“We live in the golden age of documentary filmmaking,” says Bojic, 58, a slender, dark-haired woman who came to the U.S. after a career in radio and television in the former Yugoslavia.

When we talked about all those other festivals, she added this: “They’re coming in and out. But we stayed. We have a very clear idea of what we want to do, and what our audience is.”

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Bojic is reticent about talking about herself — she would much rather talk about the 60 films in the upcoming 20th UNAFF festival, which begins Oct. 19 — but this much is clear:

The popular Stanford lecturer, who studied law before she went into radio and television, sees documentary films as a way of conveying a larger political message.

Influenced by Barbara Trent, a filmmaker who came to Stanford to talk about her film on the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, (“The Panama Deception”) Bojic founded the film festival in 1998.

It was the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document whose existence owes much to Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman Bojic reveres.

So what films will be shown this year? The theme of the year’s festival is “respect,” another chapter in the veneration of human rights that is at the core of the festival.

You can get the full list of screenings at www.unaff.org, as well as a useful video interview with Bojic and several of the filmmakers. (Bojic continues to work as a journalist, reviewing films for newspapers in Europe.) The festival will also

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment

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