The struggle for global justice continues around the world, described, explored, and sometimes celebrated in this stream of films hosted by Amnesty International. The afternoon begins with a recently updated Koch Brothers Exposed, a revealing look at billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and the influence they exercise over US politicians with sometimes devastating effect. On a more positive note, The Revolutionary Optimists describes efforts to rescue and empower children living in Calcutta’s slums. Soft Vengeance offers a glimpse into the world of Albie Sachs, who rejected vengeance for his own loss of an arm and eye following a targeted attack in favour of working for peace and democracy in South Africa. Last up is a special second screening of One River, Many Relations which shares the stories and struggles of indigenous people in the Athabasca Delta whose territory is downstream from from the Alberta oil sands.
60 min. | 2014 | Brave New Films
FILMMAKER: Robert Greenwald
Saturday, March 21 | 12:00 pm | Theatre 1
The film tells stories about the political machinations of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to influence U.S. politicians to pass laws in line with their extreme Libertarian ideology, often with heartbreaking consequences for others. Koch-founded groups masquerading as grassroots organizations (“astroturf groups”) have poured millions of dollars into campaigns targeting the Environmental Protection Agency. They have financial interests in the tar sands and generously fund right wing think tanks such as the Fraser Institute and climate change deniers. Tactics include voter suppression. In spite of this, some people have fought back and defeated candidates funded by this diabolical duo.
54 min. | 2013 | Collective Eye Films
FILMMAKERS: Nicole Newnham & Maren Grainger-Monsen
Saturday, March 21 | 1:15 pm | Theatre 1
Children are saving lives in the slums of Kolkata. Amlan Ganguly doesn’t rescue slum children; he empowers them to become change agents, battling poverty and transforming their neighbourhoods with dramatic results. Filmed over the course of several years, the film follows Amlan and some of the children he works with on an intimate journey through adolescence, as they fight for the better future he encourages them to imagine is deservedly theirs. The Revolutionary Optimists draws us into the world of two 11-year-olds with no access to clean drinking water, a girl forced to labour in a brick-making operation, and a teenage dancer on the precipice of accepting early marriage to escape from her abusive family. We watch as these young activists organize to get clean water, go to school, reduce malaria infections and learn to dance.
84 min. | 2013
FILMMAKER: Abby Ginzberg
Saturday, March 21 | 2:30 pm | Theatre 1
Soft Vengeance is an inspiring film about Albie Sachs, a lawyer, writer, art lover and freedom fighter. For his actions as a lawyer defending anti-apartheid activists in South Africa, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement, tortured and forced into exile. In 1988 he was blown up by a car bomb set by the South African security forces in Mozambique, which cost him his right arm and the sight of one eye. As he was recovering, he received a note reading “Don’t worry comrade Albie, we will avenge you.” He wondered what kind of country it would be if it were filled with people who were blind and without arms. “If we achieve democracy, freedom and the rule of law, that will be my soft vengeance,” he mused.
Following the release of Nelson Mandela, Sachs helped write the new constitution and was then appointed as one of the first 11 judges to the new Constitutional Court set up to guarantee the implementation of the fundamental rights for which they had been fighting.
One River, Many Relations
62 min. | 2014
FILMMAKERS: Stéphane McLachlan & Michael Tyas
Saturday, March 21 | 4:30 pm | Theatre 1
There are essential voices that have been excluded from the debate over Canada’s largest and most controversial industrial development: those of the indigenous communities who live downstream from the Alberta oil sands. One River, Many Relations is their story. The people of the Peace-Athabasca Delta share their history and the changes brought by the oil sands industry, hydro projects, the changing climate and the loss of traditional livelihood.
Working in close collaboration with the Mikisew Cree First Nation and the Dene people of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, filmmakers Stéphane McLachlan McLachlan and Michael Tyas focus on changes in the health of the wildlife and the environment along the Athabasca and Slave Rivers, and the impact these changes have had on the people. The Just Film Festival is proud to host the Canadian premiere of this important film.
“Our hope is that our film can play a role in the sharing of information, concerns, and perspectives on development in the watershed, and also create connections between communities, citizens, researchers, industry, and government.” – filmmakers’ statement
One River, Many Relations, created by the University of Manitoba’s Environmental Conservation Lab, is the first documentary about the Athabasca Delta that gives voice to its indigenous people.
The filmmakers will be in attendance and there will be a discussion following the screening.