‘Audiences don’t need to walk away from the festival despairing about some issue. They can get involved and try to improve the situation’ — Masizakhe is just one of the free films at the Marda Loop Justice Festival
Every year, dozens of politically minded films are released across the world, addressing every ill from poverty to war, disease to corruption. Though mainstream film festivals often have a small segment or day set aside for such Brechtian endeavours — such as the Arusha Action films segment of the recent Calgary International Film Festival — most larger festivals are forced to turn away many politically minded films simply due to time constraints. The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival has no such restrictions, focusing specifically on films that foster awareness and understanding of injustices suffered by many worldwide.
“We think that film is an important way to communicate those kinds of stories,” says Jenny Krabb, the founder of Justice. “I think we come at the whole premise differently than (larger) film festivals. Those festivals, they tend to be about film, about the making of film and how well that film work is done. We're not really about that. We understand that film is an important medium to convey a story. So for us, film is a wonderful method to bring across these issues and these kinds of concerns. In a sense, we're offering a very different product. “
After each screening, a discussion is held by someone well versed in the subject matter of the film, and audiences are invited down to a Non-Governmental Organization village, where different charitable groups set up booths for interested audience members to gather further information on the issues and get involved.
“Audiences don't need to walk away from the festival despairing about some issue,” says Krabb. “They can get involved and try to improve the situation. They can actually engage themselves.”
As in any community event dealing with the world's ailments, the issue of selection is an important one. By non-selection, an issue gains less exposure and the assumption might be that the festival deemed it less important than those selected. This isn't the case with Justice fest 2007.
“Well, we don't have a set of bullet points, but we try to ensure that we cover a variety of topics over the course of time,” says Krabb. “We look at the geography of our issues — have we covered a range around the world? Are there some international development issues that are being considered? Are there some political issues that are being considered? We want to make sure we're looking in our own backyard, in Canada, as well. And we also look at whether or not a film is award-winning. We try to have some films that are award winning, but we also try to bring forth films that may not be, but are also important stories as well.”
The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival takes place November 16 to 18 at the First Christian Reformed Church Auditorium. Admission is free.