One day set aside for nonviolence and a cessation of fighting is filmmaker Jeremy Gilley's goal. From conception to completion, 10 years of trials and obstacles are recorded in this man's mission that swells to affect the global community in "The Day After Peace."
Gilley realized the impact film could have as a child actor. He then started making his own low-budget films.
The more violence he saw, the more frustrated he grew. He started a project for peace but realized there was no day set aside for peace. In 1981, the United Nations had established a day of Peace as the third Tuesday in September, but it rarely was observed.
In his native London, Gilley launched his new initiative for the day of peace at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 1999, but he learned a sad realization: Without the involvement of the media, an initiative is doomed for failure. So began his journey around the world, interviewing people and politicians to muster support.
September 21 was the selected date for peace for one day. It now was up to the U.N. to vote on it, and four days later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Kofi Annan was poised to announce that the resolution had passed and he was set to ring the peace bell.
An act of terror postponed the event: Two planes attacked the World Trade Center.
With a specified date of peace marked on the calendar, Gilley thought his work was done. He was wrong.
Peace days came and went with no cease-fires observed. Cynics overwhelmed. In order to silence the skeptics, he needed more government support and more media attention.
Gilley's approach to peace reads like a marketing plan in progress. Try efforts individually, then enlist the help of celebrities. Enter in the big stars: Johnny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Annie Lennox.
Then add on corporate sponsors to keep the project afloat. Out of money, needing a financial backer, Gilley presented his goal to the Coco-Cola headquarters. Soon, Coke cans were transformed into beverages of peace. Amid all the campaigning at corporate levels rose the question of ethics.
As is customary with visionaries, the most exciting goals are the most ambitious. Similar to Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, who had a goal of educating girls in Afghanistan, Gilley stages his day-of-peace initiative in that same country, which hasn't seen peace in more than 30 years.
In order to make a day for peace seem more than a tree hugger's dream but an actual reality, a concrete activity was needed. In small villages that had been inaccessible for years because of fighting, polio vaccinations would be administered to children.
This life-saving cause was an event everyone could rally behind, including the Taliban. On Sept. 21, 2007, 1.4 million people were vaccinated. From this, it was learned that if peace can happen in the most volatile country, then it can happen anywhere.
Once this activity was conceived, events around the world were planned. As a result, 82 separate peace-day initiatives were implemented, many of which were life-saving activities such as food drops in Sudan and insecticide mosquito nets handed out in the Congo.
This film is testament to the fact that, with vision and determination, anything is possible.