Movies for Activists

Film is such a powerful medium with which to communicate a message or raise awareness about an issue or problem. Subtle details and nuances can prove to be highly provocative statements, and allegorical films can be powerful critiques against a given regime or system. Attending a film festival such as the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is activism in itself–it is only one of three festivals in Canada dedicated to films made by women.  As has been discussed on this blog before, the gender disparities in the Canadian film in television are still a huge issue, with Canadian women fare behind their male counterparts in both annual earnings and opportunities, period. Supporting festivals such as ours is therefore especially important if you care about missing voices, overlooked stories, and challenging the status quo. If you’re an activist or a free thinker, these films should be at the top of your watchlist.

El Regreso


El Regreso (The Return) by Patricia Ortega is a narrative fiction that explores the tragic and true events of April 16, 2004 in the Wayuu community of Bahía Portete, at the Colombian Guajira, a territory split between Colombia and Venezuela.  Given that it focuses on this painfully recent history, it is no doubt one of the most powerful films of the festival. Ortega will be present following the film for a panel discussion. The story is told from the perspective of Shuliwala (Daniela González), a 10-year-old girl who is forced to flee her home for an unknown city. The film is a bold contribution to the fight against racism while portraying little-known images of the Wayuu indigenous community. By focusing on a specific ethnic group, Ortega proposes a universal approach that vindicates the struggle for the rights of indigenous people.

March 8th 3:30-6:30pm

5 Ways 2 Die


Director Daina Papadaki says that her short film about a man fumbling his suicide attempts is a socio-political allegory noting, “Corruption is inevitable when the rules and laws do nothing to prevent it. In such cases the lines distinguishing the sinner from the victim are blurred- if not existent.”

Friday, March 7th 4:00-6:00pm

How People Live


Lisa Jackson’s documentary following the history of the forced relocation of the Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations is thoughtfully crafted, accessible, and could not be a more timely reminder of Canada’s ongoing obsession with colonial violence amidst the Idle No More movement and Truth and Reconciliation commissions.

Sunday, March 9th 1:00-3:30pm

Night Shift


Too often we overlook those with service industry and custodial jobs–people holding these positions are there to clean up our messes long after we are gone. Zia Mandviwalla’s short from New Zealand focuses on Salote, an airport custodian. What brought her to that position? A surprise ending will tell.

Friday, March 7th 4:00-6:00pm

Pink or Blue?


This short, charming documentary by Barbara Bedont is based on the belief that children should be able to choose their own gender identity and be free from the rigid gender binary North American society clings to.

Friday, March 7th 6:30-8:30

A Little Elbow Room


Just down the street from where VIWIFF will be taking place is The Elbow Room Café where the customer service policy is a little…unusual, to say the least. This short doc on a local restaurant is about more than its snarky owners, it’s about the love, commitment, and the evolution of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S community that has helped the diner to raise nearly $70,000 for Vancouver charity A Loving Spoonful.

Sunday, March 9th at 4:00pm.

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