Opening film for the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival is Call to Response, which highlights the troubling issue of human slavery.
Gauntlet file photo

A local way to see large scale injustices

Seventh annual film fest shows Calgarians the problems in and beyond our borders

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Global injustices don't always impact us in Calgary. The Marda Loop Justice Film Festival hopes to open Calgarians' eyes.

The fourth annual festival will showcase 11 films from November 20-22 in the River Park Church Auditorium. This year's fest features engaging documentaries meant to raise awareness on justice issues in Canada and abroad, ranging from homelessness and corruption to human rights violations.

Jenny Krabbe, the event's founder and organizer, expects the festival to be a "moving affair" set to attract a diverse audience. Family films will be shown as well as more high impact selections. The opening film, Call to Response, highlights the troubling issue of human slavery. The film uncovers the thriving slave trade industry -- from the sex trade in Cambodia to child labour in India, surprising and horrifying injustices are revealed.

"[It's] a beautiful film for a terrible issue," explains Krabbe. "27 million people are enslaved today, more than ever in human history."

"The films are only one part [of the festival]," says Krabbe.

Local speakers will lead discussions after each film to engage and allow the public to discuss issues.

"In our culture, we don't have very many opportunities to engage in discussion across all lines," said Krabbe. "People are less passive and are realizing we have a role to play; we as citizens have to be involved."

Discussion leaders were carefully considered and perspectives and voices from all sides are depicted during the talks.

The NGO village provides another part of the festival, the perfect opportunity for those interested to get involved. As many as 25 groups promoting justice will be present at the festival to encourage participation. Groups promoting human rights, such as Amnesty International and ACT Alberta, which focuses on human trafficking within the province, are just a couple organizations attending the NGO village.

"North American consciousness and their connectedness about what happens in the whole globe is much stronger now and that is a hopeful thing," says Krabbe.

The festival is the product of hardworking volunteers. Many long hours are put in choosing the films and speakers, and planning for the next festival is a year-round job. Most of the speakers are local in order to keep a feeling of connectedness to the issues. The injustices examined in the films may be complex but they are real and the public needs to be aware.

"The films are always documentaries, and relatively new," said Krabbe. "The point [of the festival] is to offer very good quality documentaries that bring people aware[ness] to the issue of justice . . . and spur the public towards engagement."

"The big challenge is: are we truly turning it into change?"

The festival will try to tackle that challenge and bring change to Calgary at a more local and personal level.

Last year Stephen Harper apologized to former Aboriginal residential school students. The festival organizers wanted to bring the apology to reality. In response, a "Book of Apology" has been made, and will be available throughout the weekend to sign and will be presented to the Tsuu T'ina Nation. A film about the Aboriginal residential experience, Muffins for Granny, is set to play at the festival. Muffins was directed by Ojibway filmmaker Nadia McLaren, whose own grandmother experienced the schools first hand.

"Amends have been made, but we don't necessarily feel like we shared in it," said Krabbe.

"There is hurt, and if we acknowledge it on all sides, it is a step towards healing."