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Ron Kovic is presented to the audience at the MY HERO International Film Festival


Contact: Wendy Milette


Los Angeles, CA - 11/8/11 - The seventh annual MY HERO International Film Festival will be awarding the Ron Kovic Peace Prize to the film Azim Khamisa: The Tool of Forgiveness, a film by The Working Group and The Institute for Advancing Unity.

Ron Kovic introduces the winner of the 2011 Ron Kovic Peace Prize, Azim Khamisa

Azim Khamisa is an extraordinary man who found strength amidst tragedy, when his son Tariq was killed in a gang-related shooting. Khamisa says that, after mourning the loss deeply, "I recognized that if I did not forgive, then I would be a victim. And there is no quality of life in being a victim."

He asked himself, "Who is the enemy here? Is it the fourteen-year-old that killed my son... or is it the societal forces that forced a young African American boy to join a gang at the age of eleven, and then--to prove himself to the gang--he shot and killed my son."

He forgave the teen who murdered Tariq, partnered with the boy's grandfather to advocate nonviolence and created the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to empower youths to live peacefully.

Azim Khamisa, receives his award from David Kelly, curator of the MY HERO Film Festival, alongside the Director of the Film Festival, Wendy Millette
Ron Kovic explains that he chose the film as first place winner of his peace prize because "This film speaks strongly to the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness as fundamental for the creation of real peace in the world." Ron Kovic presents the award annually as part of his continued fight for peace and social justice. Kovic is perhaps best known for authoring Born on the Fourth of July, which recounts his harrowing experiences in Vietnam and was adapted into a screenplay by Ron and Oliver Stone.

Kovic has often named forgiveness as a means to peace. He believes that "Despite all our differences, there is, I believe, a powerful connectedness to our humanity-a deep desire to reach out with kindness, with love and great caring toward each other, even to our supposed enemies, and to bring forth 'the better angels of our nature'-that is undeniable and cannot be extinguished, even in death."

Azim Khamisa enlightens the audience with his beautiful and powerful words, alongside Edith Crawford, director of the film Azim Khamisa: The Tool of Forgiveness and Ron Kovic
Ron Kovic will present his award and accompanying $1000 prize to Azim at The MY HERO International Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the USC School of Cinematic Arts on December 3rd.

The other finalists for this year's prize included Prayers for Peace by Dustin Grella, Witness to Hiroshima by Kathy Sloane, Together We Can Create World Peace by Emily Baker, Flags by Mattan Cohen, Overnight Stay by Daniela Sherer, and David by Joel Fendelman. These films tell stories that span all ages, genres, and modes of activism. All can be watched online through The MY HERO Project Screening Room myhero.com/films.

Kovic and The MY HERO Project are now accepting submissions for next year's festival through the website myhero.com.

Last changed on: 11/8/2011

Acceptance Speech Watch Ron Kovic present the Peace Prize award to Azim Khamisa at the 7th Annual International MY HERO Film Festival

Azim Khamisa: The Tool of Forgiveness Watch the Ron Kovic Peace Prize-winning film

Ron Kovic Peace Prize Finalists Watch the films that were in contention for the prize

Call for entries for the 2012 Ron Kovic Peace Prize at the MY HERO film festival

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