Coffee, garbage & female empowerment

The Global Justice Film Festival returns to the University of Winnipeg with 23 films about nearly everything

Documentaries offering fresh insights into today’s most current and urgent issues will be screening at the 12th Annual Global Justice Film Festival. The event, run and organized entirely by volunteers, spans one evening and a full day at the University of Winnipeg.

“We share the vision of sustainability and a better world,” says Izzy Goluch, co-chair of the event. “It’s quite a unique festival; it’s not what you’d normally see in a movie theater.” 

Gender and women’s rights take a central role in the festival, but the context feels new: rather than focusing on the hardships of women, the majority of films take a close look at the places where women are pushing back against limitations, and doing so with exuberance. According to Goluch, the films still look at and deal with the dark side of female oppression, but the mood is largely optimistic. 

Some films aim to shatter long-held myths. Seeds of Freedom challenges the concept that large farming corporations are the only answer to feeding the world, when in fact 70 per cent of the globe’s population is sustained by small farms. Several films closely examine the lives of farmers, illustrating the hardships of a seasonal income and impending threats from the government to seize their livelihood; such films may serve as particularly interesting to those who know that fair trade is important, but don’t know exactly why. 

“We watch about 40 films,” says Goluch, who notes that the committee - made up of a dozen or so people - preview all the films, which are sent from the Traveling World Festival. “It’s usually quite unanimous. The only problem is we want to show all the films.” 

The documentaries cover a wide range of locations, including Africa, Hawaii and Winnipeg. Rooming House to Rooming Homes discusses the problematic decline of affordable housing in Winnipeg and the possible consequences, a must-see for those living in the downtown area. Also of particular interest to Winnipeg’s population would be one of many films focusing on immigration, notably Arrival & Arrival, 2 Years In from local filmmaker Kirby Hammond. 

“The festival has always been very popular with a large range of people,” Goluch says. “We’re hoping to get people in who don’t really know about these specific issues, because it is a stimulating and interesting way to take in lots of information.”

With full price tickets at $12 and low-income/student tickets at $10, the admission fee is about what you’ll pay at Silver City, but for a weekend of films. Proceeds go towards future festivals. 

Solar Mamas is my personal pick,” says Goluch, referencing a film about a Jordanian solar engineer who is pressured by her husband to give up her education and return home. “I think it’s really important, and it’s from a perspective that’s not often heard.” 

The festival takes place on Friday, Nov. 7 and Saturday, Nov. 8 at the University of Winnipeg. For a full schedule, visit globaljusticefilmfestival.ca/films.

Published in Volume 69, Number 10 of The Uniter (November 5, 2014)

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