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Justice film festival coming

Films that raise questions and shine a light on injustice will be the focus of a three-day festival in Red Deer.

The fifth annual Justice Film Festival, organized by the Hearts of Women group, showcases social problems around the world and even here at home. After each movie a speaker is brought in to lead discussions.

“It increases awareness of a number of social justice issues,” said Karen Horsley, a member of the Hearts of Women.

“People begin to talk about it amongst their family and friends and before you know it a lot of times that can actually initiate action or get people to feel like they want to do something.”

The Red Deer Justice Film Festival is a satellite of the Marda Loop Film Festival out of Calgary. “We put a lot of time into our selection process,” said Horsely. “We try to make sure we cover a wide variety of topics and that some are local and some are international.”

The festival runs from Jan. 17 to 19 at the Red Deer College Margaret Parsons Theatre. On Jan. 17, the films are shown from 6 to 9:30 p.m., on Jan. 18 they are shown from 6 to 9:15 p.m. and on Jan. 19 they are shown from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with 10 films being shown in all.

With films ranging in topics from universal health care to debt to prosecuting international war criminals, Horsley said it is tough to single a few films out. But she said the opener, on Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. is one that is interesting, War in the Mind, as it deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It’s certainly an issue I think people are reluctant to talk about,” said Horsley. “We have a renowned speaker coming, Marvin Westwood, and he’s featured in the film. We’re very excited to have him come to lead the post film discussion.”

Westood is a professor in the counselling psychology program at the University of British Columbia and associate member of that university’s faculty of medicine. He is responsible for the development and evaluation of UBC’s veterans transition program.

Another film, The Fourth World, features Hearts of Women member Alma Funk leading the post film discussion.

“She has just retired and is now working part time for International Needs Canada,” said Horsely. “Immediately following the festival she is off to Kenya and continuing the work. We feel really fortunate to have someone in our group who is able to speak to one of the films and is really passionate about it.”

Funk worked as a community nursing instructor at Red Deer College for 20 years before her retirement and the film she will lead the discussion on afterwards will be shown on Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m.

While the films focus on highlighting issues, the hope is people react and want to do something about it.

“They often present some unsettling issues,” said Horsley. “But I think there is also a lot of hope that is portrayed in a lot of the films.”

While the festival is free to attend, the organization asks for donations on entry and relies on sponsors to run the event, now in its fifth year. All donated funds go to next year’s festival.

Horsley said that while the films are aimed to raise awareness, people can do a part to change by acting locally while thinking globally.

“I think it is important that people realize action could be something very simple like volunteering at the food bank, sponsoring a child or, if you want to take on a bigger role, volunteering with an NGO (nongovernmental organization,” said Horsley.



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