Offering an array of first-rate, thought-provoking and challenging films, the annual Red Deer Justice Film Festival runs Jan. 24th, 25th and 26th at the Welikoklad Event Centre.
The Festival has been running in the City since 2008.
Organizers point out that the vision is to, “Promote awareness of global issues and activate our community through documentary films exploring a range of diverse topics, groups and perspectives.”
The Festival is free to the public and sponsored by the donations of local businesses and individuals. Founded on a passion for communal and worldwide activism, the Justice Film Festival will be screening 13 films that are sure to captivate audiences, said Lane Tomalty, president of the board.
She said it’s always interesting to see how the films spur further discussion on a range of social justice issues as well.
“People are always really gracious that we continue to bring the Festival because it is a non-profit,” she said, adding that a key goal this year is to continue to build the Festival’s audience. “We have a really great and loyal following – once people come to it, they usually keep coming year after year,” she added.
This year’s screenings will be held from 7 – 11:30 p.m. each day with matinées on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. with a break between 4 – 7 p.m.
With films tackling topics such as the realities of automation, mental health among teens and the consequences of the extreme violence in Baltimore, this year’s Festival hopes to further engage with its audience through post-show discussions where experts on the films’ subject matters will facilitate open conversations, according to a release.
Looking back, the Festival was brought to Red Deer in 2008 by CAUSE Canada as part of the Marda Loop Film Festival in Calgary.
After two years being run by CAUSE Canada, a group of women called ‘The Hearts of Women’ (HOW), who had been helping with some of the planning and volunteering, were asked to take over organization of the event.
The Festival continues to run in association with the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival and as of last year, the torch has been passed on to a new group of women, including Tomalty, with the same hopes, goals and intentions as those of the HOW.
When she heard that reps with HOW were looking to pass planning responsibilities on, she was immediately interested.
“I said that with their help, I would totally take it on and also that I knew some girls who are passionate about it,” she said.
“I started going to the Justice Film Festival (years back) and was just enthralled with it, and how it brings a voice to those who don’t have a voice.
“I also love bringing awareness of these different things that we have conversations around. It’s something I’m really passionate about,” she said.
Tomalty said the goal is to present both films that touch on local themes along with films that tap into global issues.
Highlights this year include Not Alone which is about mental health and suicide. “I think that one is going to be really powerful,” said Tomalty, adding that another title, In The Name of Your Daughter, which focuses on female circumcision, will also be sure to touch and challenge audiences.
As mentioned, many screenings include a discussion with a speaker – an expert on the film’s topic – in order to promote thought-provoking conversations following the screenings.
The festival also hosts an NGO Village where local organizations are brought together to provide more education and resources that are accessible here in Red Deer.
For more information and to learn more about the Red Deer Justice Film Festival, visit www.reddeerjusticefilmfest.ca or find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reddeerjusticefilmfest.