The Universal Kids Film Festival in Istanbul, now on its 5th edition, is slowly but surely making an indelible mark among Turkish kids. Not because of its size or great fanfares, but for its tenacity in advocating peace. The selected films and all corollary activities are planned within this mission.

One unique feature of the festival is the ‘Peace Carpet’ which is spread out every year to drum up awareness and involvement of everyone in the advocacy for peace. The Peace Carpet is composed of two long strips of cloth, one white and the other black, usually spread out at the entrance of the festival’s main venue. Visitors are encouraged to sign on the white cloth to affirm their support for peace and walk on the black cloth to protest against war.

Contrary to the usual red carpet that welcomes luminaries and dignitaries in film festivals, the UKFF welcomes visitors with its black and white carpets that engage everyone into an active stance. As the Peace Carpet is often taken along whenever UKFF sends delegations abroad, it has been signed already in various nations around the globe, raising awareness among children and adults.

Festival founder Rowena Martinez Ulayan, a Filipino artist based in Turkey: “We create to inspire, we inspire to create peace for an inspired society that will never create war. With this guiding principle the festival brings a torchlight of hope to an otherwise war torn region.”