By Claire Miglionico
CALGARY — The first time I attended the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival was at Mount Royal University –then Mount Royal College – circa. 2007. I had watched a documentary on domestically abused women wrongly convicted for the murder of their abusive husbands. I had never seen a film rooted in social justice in such a powerful and enraging way.
A decade later, the festival is still running strong, with a lineup that spans over five days rather than three, and four locations rather than two.
“Now we have the John Dutton Theatre at the Calgary Public Library, EMMEDIA, River Park Church and the Globe Cinema as venues,” says Caitlin Logan, the festival’s program chair over the phone.
The best part? The festival has been free since day one and aims to continue to be free, thanks to their many community sponsors.
Logan had been an attendee of the festival for about five years before she decided to become a volunteer.
“I’ve always been a huge advocate of becoming more aware of what’s going on in the world. I had a friend who was involved in the festival who introduced me to it. It seemed like a perfect fit,” she says.
Logan is part of the panel of volunteers who review the thousands of films that get submitted to the festival each year. She says they are at the time of year when filmmakers start submitting films to the festival. The festival is open to anyone who wants to submit.
The festival also looks to film festivals in Europe and renowned festivals like Hot Docs for inspiration on films that could pique Calgarians’ interests.
This year, already a handful of films are on my “must-watch” list.
A Syrian Love Story sticks out. It’s a human rights film that follows Amer and Raghda over the span of five years as they fight for political freedom under the tyrannical Assad dictatorship. Amer and Raghda first meet in a Syrian prison cell 15 years ago where they fall in love. Upon their release, they get married and start a family only to be torn apart again as Raghda becomes once again a political prisoner.
Future Baby takes a look at the fertility industry and how it has become the future of human reproduction. Egg donors, surrogate mothers… the options are endless for parents out there. How far are we willing to go and what could be some of the long-term impacts of using these modified modes of reproduction?
National Bird is number one on my list and a favourite of Logan’s. “It takes a look at the other side of the military drone offences and looks at the people who have to pilot drones and carry out these missions using the drone, and the psychological damage that they suffer while doing this, “ says Logan.
The Apology tackles the topic of “comfort women” who were forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It follows three, now grandmothers, former comfort women, seeking justice from the Japanese government.
Bugs will sure be the talk of the town. Insects as food has become a hot topic and fits hand in hand with the UN Sustainable Development Goal #2 to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Follow the filmmakers as they farm, cook and taste bugs from around the world. If you’re game, sample bugs for yourself after the screening courtesy of Entomo Farms.
The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival runs November 15th to 20th and touches upon human rights, social justice, environment and development issues. The full schedule is available at justicefilmfestival.ca.A Syrian Love Story, AB, Alberta, Bugs, EMMEDIA, Future Baby, Globe Cinema, John Dutton Theatre, Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, National Bird, River Park Church, The Apology