Local film festival brings insight to national and international issues

Celebrating 10 years in Mardaloop, the festival is offering 21 films

Celebrating 10 years of screening quality sociopolitical documentaries in Calgary, the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival (MLJFF) returns with a series of screenings held throughout the city.

Running from Nov. 17-25, the free festival will be showcasing 21 documentaries from a submission pool of more than 900 filmmakers from 91 countries. Issues regarding the environment, society, and politics are a prevalent theme among the roster with some hitting closer to home than others.

While the festival seeks to bring awareness to a particular cause or issue, Daniel Murdock president of the MLJFF, says a very important aspect of their ethos is to showcase high quality film, and, to that extent, showcasing the best documentary films.

“It’s not just about trying to change our world for the better, it’s also about great film,” says Murdock.

“I think, in all good film there is a story that connects and relates to us and that binds us together,” he says. “The opportunity to see, to feel, and to hear stories, to broaden our knowledge of the world and to broaden our understanding.” He says they try to get films that can grab the audience and cause them to empathize with the subjects as an effort to allow the audience to see things “in a new light.” “[It can] inspire us to do good, through Calgary and through the world.”

Being free is an important part of the festival’s mandate, as they want the festival to be as accessible to everyone as possible. And, while a paid subscription to Netflix allows viewers an array of documentaries to feast on at any given time, Murdock says the social aspect of being within a room filled with numerous people is important.

“There’s something very memorable and powerful about watching a film in a big room with a couple of hundred people.” That connection also extends to that of the film itself, as audience members have a chance to interact with directors face to face.

Murdock says, for SAIT Students, particularly journalists and film and video production students, the experience of seeing a professional would be a good learning experience.

Thao Nguyen, vice president of student life at SAITSA and advertising strategist for the festival, says that while certain issues might have a greater appeal than others, she emphasizes that everything is connected in a certain way.

“Some of these movies will surprise you,” she says.

“There’s always a connection in some way that can get back to us, take the drought in California, it affects us. It’s the same thing with [the other issues].”

This sense of interconnectedness, and the awareness that comes from it, according to Nguyen, is “important all the time.

“We live in the same world—what happens to these people can happen to us too.”

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