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I love Stories of Evolution, this is one such story.

Middle Village, Queens, New York — What do two award-winning upstate filmmakers, a former beef farmer from Michigan, and a 34-year veteran of the priesthood from Queens, NY, have in common? A passion for helping animals that is behind the New York City premiere of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, an award-winning film that is opening hearts and minds around the world. Sponsored by The Tablet newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, this event is the latest offering of the Tablet Forum, an ongoing series of screenings and speakers organized by Father Frank Mann and offered free to the public as a way of inspiring lively and productive community dialogue.

In Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, animal farmers struggle with matters of conscience. Their powerful testimony, and rare footage illustrating the emotional lives of animals, comes together in an unexpected story of transformation and healing. This 78-minute documentary, which has been described by many viewers as a “life-changing” experience, offers an unforgettable portrait of farm life.

Harold Brown, who in the film explains why he stepped away from four generations of animal farming in his family to become an advocate for animals and the environment, will be a guest at the premiere. Joining him will be Ithaca, NY-based filmmakers Jenny Stein and James LaVeck, who have been all around the country screening their film and winning awards, but did not find the right opportunity to debut the film in New York City until Father Frank approached them. Having recently been inspired to include “all of God’s creation” in his vision of justice, Father Frank felt Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home would be an ideal vehicle for sparking discussion on this issue through the Tablet Forum event.

“This gathering will be an energizing evening of hope, transformation and healing,” says Father Frank, who organized the screening at the 1400-seat Hugh P. Kirwan Performing Arts Center. He sees the program as fitting in well with Pope Francis’s inaugural appeal to “protect and respect each of God’s creatures and likewise respect the environment in which we live.”

In preparation for the May 10th event, Stein and LaVeck produced a short companion piece titled Father Mann’s Awakening to Compassion for Animals. The 6-minute video has struck a chord with viewers on YouTube, where in the first several days of its release, it received over 11,000 hits from people in over 50 countries.

WHEN: Friday, May 10th at 7 PM
WHAT: Free screening followed by discussion & light refreshments
WHERE: Hugh P. Kirwan Performing Arts Center, at Christ the King High School, 68-02 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, Queens, New York
GETTING THERE: Venue is a short walk from the “M” train. Free parking provided for up to 300 cars.

Ticket & Venue Information: The May 10th premiere of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home is free and open to the public. Free tickets can be ordered in advance at http://www.tribeofheart.org/nyctix , or by sending an email to [email protected] or by sending a postal mail request to The Tablet Newspaper, 1712 10th Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215. The venue is a short walk from the “M” train. Free parking will be provided for up to 300 cars. General seating, with ticket-holders admitted first, and non-ticket holders admitted after 6:45 PM if additional seating is available.

About the FilmPeaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home has been shown at film festivals and cinemas to standing-room-only audiences from The Berkshires to Boulder, from Orlando to Sausalito, from St. Louis to Seattle. When the film premiered at the Moondance International Film Festival, festival director Elizabeth English said “Peaceable Kingdom truly is a journey of inspiration; a journey to an enlightened consciousness.” The film went on to win the Colorado-based festival’s “Spirit of Moondance” Best Documentary award. When the film won the Best Documentary Feature award at Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival, festival director Milissa Pacelli said: “Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home is a grand wake up call. You would have to be so numb to not be affected by this film.”

“It’s been heartening,” says Stein, “to see the peace and environmental communities so enthusiastically embrace this film, extending their ethic of non-violence and compassion to the other beings who share the planet with us.”

Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home has been an official selection in 16 film festivals in North and South America, including the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital, the St. Louis International Film Festival, the Anchorage International Film Festival, the Princeton Environmental Film Festival, and the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. It has won six top awards, including  The Grand Jury Prize at the Canada International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Yale Environmental Film Festival, the Best Documentary, the Best of Fest Audience Award at the Berkshire International Film Festival, and most recently, the “Oscow” audience award at Brazil’s Mostra Animal International Film Festival. The film is currently premiering in several major Australian cities, introduced by Citibank vice president-turned-philanthropist Philip Wollen, OAM.

About Father Frank Mann: Father Frank has spent decades focused on learning and teaching about social justice issues. He has organized several film and speaking events for The Tablet Forum to foster community dialogue on matters of conscience. Last year, by chance, he saw a billboard on the Long Island Expressway that displayed a picture of a piglet and a puppy, and posed the question, “Why love one but eat the other?” The moral challenge literally stopped him in his tracks, leading him on a journey of profound soul-searching that eventually expanded his idea of social justice to include animals.  When Father Frank discovered Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home he felt he had found the perfect vehicle for introducing his Tablet Forum audience and other members of the public to the ideas that had inspired his new awareness. “When he contacted us,” says producer James LaVeck, “we were impressed by his moral courage. His commitment to follow his conscience very much reminds Jenny and me of the subjects of our film, and we immediately knew the Tablet Forum would be the ideal opportunity for the film’s long-awaited New York City premiere.”

About director Jenny Stein and producer James LaVeck: In 2000, Stein and LaVeck founded Tribe of Heart, an Ithaca, New York-based charitable filmmaking organization, inspired by the idea that “one person’s change of heart can change the world.” Since then, their documentaries have screened at more than 80 film festivals around the world, winning 19 top awards. Their first documentary, The Witness, which is now distributed in 14 different languages, was described by Pulitzer-winning columnist Howard Rosenberg as “one man’s truth that cries out for mass exposure… may be the most important and persuasive film about animals ever made” (Los Angeles Times). Stein and LaVeck’s films have been broadcast on PBS, endorsed by Dr. Jane Goodall, and supported by actor/activists James Cromwell, Alicia Silverstone, and William Baldwin. Learn more at http://www.tribeofheart.org

Photo courtesy of Jenny Stein