Film crew and actors on the set of Becoming Bulletproof.

WCFF brings social issues to the big screen

B.C.’s longest-running social justice documentary film festival is returning to the Comox Valley

Mark Allan

Special to the Record

B.C.’s longest-running social justice documentary film festival is returning to the Comox Valley for its 24th year.

Topics in the World Community Film Festival on Feb. 6 and 7 include civil rights, diversity, ecology, injustice, native issues, security abuses and food security.

Marmato is one I really love,” says Wayne Bradley, an organizer of the festival since its inception. “It focuses on mining issues.

“Canada is the centre of the international mining industry,” Bradley adds.

Marmato is the name of a Colombian village. The award-winning film documents the villagers’ resistance to Canadian mining company Medoro, which wants to relocate homes to make way for an open-pit operation.

Janet Fairbanks, who has worked on the festival almost as long as Bradley, is excited about Alive Inside.

“This is one about music and memory,” explains Bradley’s fellow festival curator. “It deals with how music can really open up people who have been shut down because of dementia.

“It’s one of these really uplifting films,” adds Fairbanks, noting it earned the Audience Award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival.

Other films of note in the festival include:

Becoming Bulletproof: A diverse group of people with different abilities and physical challenges congregate in a camp every year to make a movie.

DamNation: When obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life.

The Secret Trial 5: The Canadian government uses security certificates, which allows indefinite imprisonment without charges based on evidence not revealed to the accused or their lawyers.

Open Sesame; The Story of Seeds: Activists work to save this precious resource.

How a People Live: Two native bands moved by the federal government onto another band’s territory near Port Hardy in 1964 struggle to reconnect with their culture.

All The Time in the World: A family disconnects from a hectic, technology-laden society to reconnect with each other and the natural environment in the Yukon.

The Man Who Stopped the Desert: One lone farmer uses ancient agricultural methods to reverse the advance of the Sahara Desert.

“There’s a lot of bad news in the world,” Fairbanks observes, “and we don’t ignore all of that, but we found people need uplifting stories as well.

“We’re focused this year more than ever on finding heartwarming, uplifting stories that also can impart some wisdom and can help people make decisions about how they live their lives in a way that makes a better world for everyone,” she summarizes.

Bradley and Fairbanks note there’s a greater need for documentary film festivals such as this one because the mainstream media is losing its ability to do investigative reporting due to cutbacks.

The festival includes the Social Justice Bazaar, which opens Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in the Upper Florence Filberg Centre. Community groups sell goods and provide information about many of the issues featured in the films.

A family program runs Saturday from 1 to 2:30 in the Lower Sid Theatre near the fountain.

World Community’s festival has spread to other communities, which this year stretch as far as Winnipeg and Antigonish, N.S.

The 24th annual World Community Film Festival happens Feb. 6 and 7. More than 25 documentaries will be screened at the Sid Williams Theatre, Native Sons Hall and Filberg Centre from Friday at 7:30 p.m. to Saturday at 6 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Sid Williams Theatre, at  www.sidwilliamstheatre.comor by phoning 250-338-2430.

For details, visit



Mark Allan is a freelance writer and a former editor of the Comox Valley Record.


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