Tarsands documentary to be shown at upcoming Red Deer film festival

A documentary about Alberta’s allegedly cancer-causing, water-contaminating “tarsands” will be shown at the Justice Film Festival in Red Deer next week — along with films about the bloody side of cellphones, the trade in human organs, disappearing honeybees, and other controversies.

A documentary about Alberta’s allegedly cancer-causing, water-contaminating “tarsands” will be shown at the Justice Film Festival in Red Deer next week — along with films about the bloody side of cellphones, the trade in human organs, disappearing honeybees, and other controversies.

The free festival that runs from Jan. 20 to 22 at City Centre Stage should provide a thought-provoking, inspiring three days, said local organizer Karen Horsley, whose global consciousness was twigged after a visit to poverty-torn Honduras in 2001.

The Red Deer nurse came back to Alberta wanting to make a difference in developing nations and formed the local Hearts of Women group, which has participated in various projects and fundraisers over the last decade in support of the non-governmental organization, Cause Canada.

Hearts of Women annually screens the Justice Film Festival at no charge to the public in Red Deer to foster public awareness, as well as discussion about injustices and indignities suffered throughout the world.

Nine documentaries will be shown in this satellite version of the fourth-annual Marda Loop Justice Film Festival, which originated in Calgary. Horsley hopes the films will promote understanding “of what’s possible when positive actions are taken, big or small.”

Each screening will be followed by a public discussion and question-and-answer session.

For instance, a transplant surgeon or someone from a transplant team will be on hand after the showing of The Market, whose director, Rama Rau, won an award at the 2011 Hot Docs festival in Toronto.

The film focuses on two women — Hema, a young mother of two living in a slum in Chennai, India, who wants to sell a kidney to pay off her family’s crippling debts, and Sandra, a 40-year-old single mother living in Nanaimo, B.C., who is chained to a dialysis machine after being on a kidney transplant waiting list for five years.

“It’s very unsettling,” said Horsley, and tailor-made for an interesting post-screening discussion.

The Market will be screened at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, just after a showing of White Water Black Gold?, which kicks off the festival at 6:30 p.m.

This film is billed as an investigative, point-of-view documentary that follows director David Lavallee on a three-year journey for answers about Alberta’s oilsands.

The mountaineer and hiking guide looks at climate change, rivers and other water resources, and the “bizarre” cancers that First Nations people living downstream of oilsands activities are getting. Lavallee also examines tailings ponds, and a planned pipeline across British Columbia.

Five films are scheduled for Saturday, starting with The Green Wave at 1 p.m. It’s an animated film, interspersed with live-action footage, testimonials and posts from courageous Iranian bloggers, who dare to speak up about the uprising in Iran and its devastating consequences.

In the Name of the Family goes at 3 p.m. This film, named Best Canadian Feature at the 2010 Hot Docs festival, is about “honour” killings of young girls and some Muslim families that justify the crimes through their patriarchal beliefs.

Breaking the Silence, at 5 p.m., captures the suffering caused by Burma’s 60-year civil war, while Vanishing of the Honey Bees, at 6:45 p.m., looks at why bees are dying across the planet, and the possible consequences.

Sunday’s films start at 1 p.m. with The Red Chapel, documenting the bizarre encounters between a fake Danish “theatre group” and its North Korean hosts in a East-meets-West clash of cultures.

Blood in the Mobile, at 3 p.m., is about how Western cellphone users are unknowingly financing a bloody civil war in the Congo through the sales of “conflict minerals” used in cellphone production.

The final film, The Storytelling Class, at 5 p.m., is about the healing power of storytelling.

Festival admission is free but donations will be accepted. People interested in knowing what they can do to help the various causes shown in the documentaries can also get more information through kiosks set up at the festival.


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