Kwantlen film festivalto showcase social justice issues

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SURREY: Metro Vancouver’s premier social justice documentary film festival, KDocsFF, is returning for its tenth anniversary this February with more than 20 award-winning films on the subject of “seeking truth.”

Staying online this year, KDocsFF 2022: Seeking Truth. Waging Change showcases films, filmmakers and film subjects grappling with issues such as anti-oppression, anti-poverty, anti-racism, environmental stewardship, gender equality, and Indigenous rights and governance. The Kwantlen Polytechnic University-organized festival will feature three live special presentations with audience question and answer sessions.

“Seeking Truth. Waging Change refers to a general through-line between the films, whether they are outright exposés or more contemplative inner explorations,” says KDocsFF founder and festival director Janice Morris. “At the heart of all of them is a journey to truth; we meet a lot of truth seekers and change makers. From peace circles to weaponized surveillance, from the opioid crisis to food futures, from LGBTQ+ rights to Canadian foreign policy, KDocsFF 2022 asks hard questions about what counts as ‘truth’ and amplifies the oft-silenced voices of resistance.”

The festival’s opening special presentation on Feb. 19 is a double-feature, showcasing The Gig Is Up directed by Shannon Walsh and Waging Change directed by Abby Ginzberg, which inspired this year’s festival title, as well as the short film Ride Fair by Javier Lovera. The films and the live audience Q&A will explore the gig and hourly wage economies and the increasing threats to labour, especially in a global pandemic.

Panelists include Walsh and Ginzberg, as well as ThorbenWieditz, co-founder of RideFair, a coalition seeking better regulation of ride-hailing platforms, Saru Jayaraman, founder and president of One Fair Wage, which campaigns for restaurant workers in the US to receive the minimum wage, and Nikki MG Cole, former national policy director for One Fair Wage. The director of Ride Fair, Javier Lovera, will moderate.

“Right now, we are in such a gig economy moment, exacerbated by a pandemic, and important questions are not being raised,” says Morris. “Not only is this a matter of labour and labour rights but, more to the point, labour exploitation.”

On Feb. 25, KDocsFF’s second special presentation will present Warrior Women, directed by Christina King and Elizabeth Castle, and the short films Lupita by Monica Wise Robles, and Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again by Courtney Montour. Together, the films highlight the power of Indigenous women resisters fighting for Indigenous rights in the face of colonial violence and oppression.

KPU Indigenous Studies instructor Vicki Haynes will moderate the live Q&A. Panelists include Warrior Women film subjects Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert, plus Wise Robles and Lupita herself, Guadaupe Vázquez Luna, along with Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, who appears in Mary Two Axe Earley.

On Feb. 26, KDocsFF’s closing special presentation screens Alice Street directed by Spencer Wilkinson and the short film Jean Swanson: We Need a New Map­ by Teresa Alfeld. Alice Street showcases the use of public art to fight gentrification while the short film follows Swanson, a long-time anti-poverty and housing justice advocate and organizer, in her first term as a Vancouver city councillor.

KPU criminology instructor Michael Ma will moderate the live Q&A featuring Swanson, Wilkinson, Alice Street’s two subjects, political muralists PanchoPeskador and Desi Mundo, and Kwantlen First Nation mixed media artist Brandon Gabriel.

KDocsFF will run online from Feb. 18-27, 2022. Tickets are $5 per film, including special presentations, or $45 for an all-access, full festival pass.