24 Hour Drum follows a three-month journey by a group of First Nations youth who touch on racism, residential schools and other such themes in spoken word and poetry. The students perform their work at high schools in the Sea to Sky corridor, and at a national principals conference in Whistler.
“The film really shows them gaining power and courage to present in front of high schools in the area,” said Comox Valley filmmaker Ed Carswell. “These kids are only 14, 15, 16 years old, and yet they really took hold of the issue, and came up with some amazing slam poetry that’s pretty hard hitting.”
24 Hour Drum will be screened amidst a number of aboriginal films at the 25th annual World Community Film Festival, which runs Feb. 5 and 6 at several venues in Courtenay.
“There’s about two hours of First Nations films all grouped together,” said Carswell, a part-time co-ordinator at World Community.
The Valley-based organization is a community of advocates working to foster a greater awareness of social, economic and environmental consequences of human activity, both locally and globally.
Its flagship event is the film fest, which screens documentary films that focus on emerging human development issues. Films are selected by a four-person committee. Creativity, film quality and relevance to the community are important aspects of selection.
“There isn’t a formula we use. Very often there’s a gut feeling that is the most important part of it,” said World Community board member Wayne Bradley. His partner, Janet Fairbanks, is board chair. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that, if you want the content of the film to stick, you should have a really interesting character which is being focused on. Somebody that people really remember. You can have Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky spout statistics at you ’til you’re blue in the face, but tell me what they said two days later. But if some peasant that is a charming, engaged and active person is telling you the same thing, that’s probably going to stick with you. Character development is a really important part of a documentary if you want to get a message across.”
He said one of this year’s fascinating films is a docudrama called Hadwin’s Judgment, about the controversial crusader, Grant Hadwin, who cut the golden spruce on Haida Gwaii.
“Docudrama is a pretty standard approach in documentary when you’re looking at an historical situation,” said Fairbanks, noting the film contains numerous interviews with people who knew Hadwin.
“One of the things we like about films in terms of selection is what makes you go away and really think about something,” she said.
“If you get a contradiction chewing away in your mind, that’s what makes the brain work and makes it confront some of the issues a little more,” Bradley said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, is get people to challenge their thinking.”
The committee watches at least 150 films a year. Invariably, it ends up with twice as many as needed. When it comes to negotiating film rights, it needs to pare things down to a certain number of minutes to put in the festival.
“That’s one of the reasons that we have our film series,” Fairbanks said. “A lot of the films we would love to screen, we just don’t have room for.”
“We’re constantly creating a prospect file,” Bradley added.
The festival opens on the Friday night with the award-winning How To Change The World — a portrait of the original members of Greenpeace. Rex Weyler, a founding member of Greenpeace, will attend for a Q&A.
Saturday’s agenda features more than 30 films at five venues: the Sid Williams Theatre, the upper and lower Native Sons Hall, the Filberg Centre and the lower Sid (fountain level). The latter offers films for children in the afternoon.
The closing night feature films are Aina and Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World.
Festival passes are $35. There are also a limited number of low income passes for $17. Friday’s opener is $14 or $8 (low income). Saturday all day is $25 or $12. Youth under 20 are $3. Children under 12, accompanied by an adult, get in free. Saturday evening films are $12.
Films from previous festivals are available at a lending library for World Community members at the Zocalo Cafe in Courtenay and Seeds Natural Food Market in Cumberland.
The organization also sells fairly traded coffee and organic products, Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon at #3 — 2440 Rosewall Cres. in Courtenay. Products can also be found at various locations around town.
Nearly half of World Community profits come from coffee sales. Since 1999, funds from coffee sales have assisted a health care project in Nicaragua.
For more information and to watch film trailers, visit www.worldcommunity.ca or find it on Facebook.
For tickets, call 250-338-2430 or order at www.sidwilliamstheatre.com