Lights, Camera, Awareness

Not all Hollywood film festivals are the same. Sure, there’s the red carpet, the step and repeat and the filmmaker Q&A sessions after the screenings. Some film festivals though, like the Awareness Film, Art & Music Festival are meant to be more than entertainment; they’re meant to open the eyes and hearts of its viewers. The three-venue, four-day festival was held this past weekend, May 3-6. This year’s lineup showcased 100 films, chosen from over 250 submissions, including 50 cause-related features.

Skye Kelly is a Santa Monica College student and Executive Director at Heal One World, a non-profit organization aimed at providing non-traditional healthcare options to those who may not be able to afford it.

Kelly started the Awareness festival three years ago. “What better way is there to bring awareness to people -- through entertainment,” she says. The festival is a chance to educate people about a broad range of issues plaguing society.

The subject matter of the films ranged from spirituality to clinical depression to overall happiness.

The festival’s main setting, the art deco styled Regent Showcase Theatre on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles, which opened its doors in 1938, was the perfect setting for the event. Its 800 plus seat theater might have overwhelmed the viewers, but the content of the films evoked a sense of closeness and unity among them.

Kelly started Heal One World after she suffered injuries in a severe car accident. As she healed through non-traditional practices that weren’t covered by her insurance, she became a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and an advocate for non-traditional methods of healing.

With free (donation-based) classes including Zumba, yoga, and meditation, Heal One World aims to provide non-traditional healing practices to those that cannot afford it.

In addition to the Awareness Festival, which is now an annual event, Heal One World hosts a monthly screening series featuring short films such as “Plastic Tide,” about ongoing plastic pollution issues.

Said Kelly, “My hope, through the festival and Heal One World, is to empower people’s lives and make the world a better place.”