Tackling social justice issues has always been the aim of the Red Deer Justice Film Festival, and this year it takes on topics such as cyberbullying, access to abortion and transgender issues.
Running from Thursday to Saturday, the lineup features 13 films chosen out of thousands, said Breanna Fitzpatrick, director and marketing for the festival.
“We tried to find films that were interesting and had a big perspective on them,” she said.
One film that stands out for her, and one that will be shown to middle and high schools during the day, is A Brave Heart. It is the story of Lizzie Velasquez, who suffers from a rare syndrome preventing her from gaining weight. The 26-year-old weighs about 58 pounds.
“I think it’s powerful,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s a message kids need to hear.”
A YouTube video of her was posted titled The World’s Ugliest Woman, and numerous negative comments along saying “kill it with fire” and “why would her parents keep her?”
“She chose to take her pain and propel it into a message of hope around who we are and what we bring to the table in our uniqueness is really special,” said Fitzpatrick.
“For kids especially it’s a really important message to hear.”
Other films include Call Me Dad, asks men who have or could commit domestic violence if they can chance; Trapped, follows abortion clinic workers and lawyer working to maintain access to abortion in the U.S.; and The Apology, former comfort women forced into sexual slavery during the Second World War fight for reconciliation and justice.
The festival will include a Non-Governmental Organization village with local organizations present that Fitzpatrick said she hopes encourage people to find out how they can use the knowledge from the films presented.
“They are the forward motion of where action happens,” said Fitzpatrick. “If someone leaves and connects with an NGO, a group of friends or in their workplace and they have a more educated opinion around a social justice topic. That’s a success for the festival.”
The festival takes place on Thursday and Friday starting at 6 p.m. both days, and on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and running all day. A full list of the films and schedule is available at www.reddeerjusticefilmfest.ca.
The festival is free to attend, as it is run through sponsorships and donations.