The second annual Fort Macleod Justice Film Festival will explore critical issues in the world.
Organizers hope that awareness and the discussion that follows each of the films will spark action.
“We want people to think about the big picture issues,” festival organizer Denise Calderwood said.
Topics range from global warming to honey bees and from domestic violence to mental illness.
A southern Alberta resident with knowledge of the subject will lead a discussion following each film.
“All of us, whether we live in small town or rural Canada, need to know the issues these films raise,” Calderwood said.
The festival runs from 3-9 p.m. Friday, March 14 and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 15 at the Empress Theatre.
Admission is free and films are appropriate for people of all ages.
New to the festival is the launch of a short film contest for youth.
Grade 9-12 students in Livingstone Range School Division and the Piikani Nation and Blood Tribe are encouraged to make a five-minute film.
“I want it to be something they can relate to,” Calderwood. “The idea is to raise awareness of the issue and suggest a solution to the problem.”
Calderwood listed as film possibilities bullying or missing aboriginal women in Canada.
“We are starting this film festival for the youth to encourage them to think about some of the issues that are out there, and how they might effect them or if they were in a position of leadership how they might make decisions to impact those issues,” Calderwood said.
The films were chosen for the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival in Calgary. Fort Macleod, along with Sarnia, Ont., Canmore, Red Deer and Dawson Creek, B.C. are satellites of the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival.
The following is the film schedule:
March 14, 3 p.m. — The Avenue
“The Avenue” explores how city cores are becoming wastelands of neglected buildings, decreased population and increased crime as people move to the suburbs.
For years 118th Avenue in Edmonton was synonymous with drugs, crime and prostitution but that image is changing. The Avenue exposes the heart of the people residing around the 118th Avenue as they take back the neighbourhood through grassroots initiatives.
March 14, 5 p.m. — The Defector
The 72-minute film “The Defector” looks at two North Korean defectors who escaped that country with the help of a human smuggler.
Sook-Ja and Yong-Hee now live in hiding in China in constant fear of being deported to North Korea where they would face imprisonment, torture, or execution.
“The Defector” exposes the true nature of life in North Korea, never before seen on film, and the network of aid workers who risk their lives to help.
March 14, 7 p.m. — Chasing Ice
Acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog was skeptical about climate change when he went to the Arctic but his first trip north changed that.
“Chasing Ice,” which runs 76 minutes, is the story of Balog’s mission to gather undeniable evidence of the changing planet.
Balog and a team of young adventures placed time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to record the glaciers in a project called the Extreme Ice Survey.
The film compresses years into seconds and captures mountains of ice disappearing at a breathtaking rate.
March 15, 11 a.m. — The Vanishing of the Bees
The 60-minute documentary “The Vanishing of the Bees” looks at the economic, political and ecological implications of the worldwide disappearance of the honey bee.
The film highlights changes resulting from what is known as “colony collapse disorder.”
Area beekeeper Jerry Poelman will lead the discussion following the film.
March 15, 1 p.m. — People of a Feather
The 90-minute film “People of a Feather features footage from seven winters in the Arctic, exploring the world of the Inuit on the Belcher islands in Canada’s Hudson Bay.
Traditional life is juxtaposed with modern challenges as both Inuit and eiders — which produce the warmest feathers in the world that allow both Inuit and birds to survive — confront changing sea ice and ocean currents disrupted by the massive hydroelectric dams powering New York and eastern North America.
March 15, 3 p.m. — Marta’s Suitcase
“Marta’s Suitcase” is a view of domestic violence that digs into the souls of the victim and abuser.
The film about a woman’s struggle for a free and safe life as she hides from her ex-husband, who brutally assaulted her years ago, addresses stereotypes about gender violence.
March 15, 5 p.m. — Hidden Pictures
In “Hidden Pictures” the film-maker, who grew up under the shadow of her father’s mental illness, takes viewers on a journey to uncover personal stories of mental illness.
March 15, 7 p.m. — Plastic Paradise
The festival’s final film explores the mystery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
In “Plastic Paradise” the film-maker encounters scientists, industry, legislators and activists who shed light on what society’s consumption of disposable plastic is doing to oceans, and our health.
People are invited to view as many films as they like, join in the discussions and view displays that will be set up in the theatre.
“We can put blinders on and not pay attention, but if you have children and grandchildren you do care about their future,” Calderwood said. “This is the future and it’s going to come very fast.”