The 29th annual World Community Film Festival offers a plethora of films that delve into social and environmental justice. Filmmakers from around the world tackle issues such as food and housing insecurity, pollution, and attacks on the sovereignty of indigenous people and on those whose sexual or gender identify don’t conform to the mainstream.
“A big part of what we’re trying to do is convince people that they do have the power to take some action,” said festival programmer Wayne Bradley, a member of the organizing committee since day one. His partner, Janet Fairbanks, has been involved since the second year of the festival.
This year’s opening night feature is Gay Chorus: Deep South, which brings a positive message to communities and individuals confronting intolerance.
“We think we’ve come a long way in terms of issues of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people; however, we should never be complacent,” Fairbanks said. “This is a beautiful film, a very inspiring story, and amazing music.”
Closing night is a double feature. Finding Solitude — about saving the alpine, glaciers and forests on Vancouver Island — was made by two young filmmakers from the west coast, one of whom is a Grade 11 student. The film includes a clip from local artist Andy Everson speaking about the Queneesh Glacier. The other film, From Seed to Seed, looks at challenges faced by a farming couple.
“It’s a good character-based film looking at the personal story of farmers trying to get into regenerative agriculture and a more sustainable approach to growing food,” Bradley said.
The bulk of the program tends to take a deeper look at issues, oftentimes discovering there are “no immediate solutions to these contradictions we’re facing,” Bradley said.
One of his favourites is Eating up Easter, which considers the indigenous culture, the environment and the effects of tourism on Easter Island in Polynesia.
“That’s a very rich film, because there are so many interesting stories woven within the film,” Fairbanks said.
She also recommends The Tree of Life and Its People, which looks at the connection between the Cedar tree and indigenous people on Vancouver Island. The film features First Nations carver and multimedia artist Rande Cook.
Programmer Gordon Darby’s festival pick is Eating up Easter, while Ardith Chambers recommends Nae Pasaran! The latter is about Scottish factory workers who, in 1974, refused to repair engines from fighter jets supporting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, putting those jets out of commission. Decades later, the workers discover the impact of their brave actions as they are honoured by the Chilean government.
Another Chambers favourite is The Whale and the Raven, awarded Best Artistic Merit at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
“You can expect a visually spectacular 100 minutes watching whales and porpoises in Kitimat fjords, an area two whale researchers hope to preserve,” she said.
Programmer Diane Cartwright recommends 2040, which provides examples of solutions to the climate crisis, set in the structure of a message to the filmmaker’s young daughter about a more positive future.
Bradley also recommend The Doctrine of Discovery, one of those films that quietly challenges almost everything you thought you knew about Canadian history.
“I wish every Canadian could see and discuss this film,” he said.
The program includes Yalis Rising, made by World Community co-ordinator Ed Carswell, which looks at culture and tradition at a school in Alert Bay.
“The cultural regeneration that’s happening with First Nations is really inspiring,” Bradley said.
The festival runs Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at four venues in downtown Courtenay. See the schedule, film descriptions and trailers at www.worldcommunity.ca.
Tickets are available at the Sid Williams Theatre box office (250 338-2430), or at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com.
A festival pass is $42.50. Friday night is $17.50. Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. is $26.50. Saturday evening is $14.50. Children under 12 are admitted free on Saturday if accompanied by an adult with a pass. Family venue only, Saturday from 1– 2:30 p.m., is $7.50. Tickets for low income and youth (under 20) are also available.
FMI: (250) 337-5412.