In this, our twentieth film festival we continue to share with our community, stories from around the world of people who are inventing and re-inventing their world and their future. These are the people who challenge the limits of the realities they face, and the definitions of what others see as possible. These are the dreamers who find a myriad of ways to imagine a better world.
The Small Planet Institute says “Hope is not what we find in evidence. It is what we become in action.” The films we share with you are a celebration of activism. All over the world hope shines through in action taken by ordinary people who dare to confront global forces with the strength of their own vision. Together they conspire to create alternative futures.
“Activism,” says Alice Walker “is my rent for living on this planet.”Activism is the decision we take, individually and collectively to participate in the social and political processes that make and re-make the world every day, and to participate consciously and responsibly with others who share our vision and values. “At a time when opportunism is everything,” writes Arundahti Roy, “When hope seems lost, when everything boils down to a cynical business deal, we must find the courage to dream.”
Finding our way to a sustainable world requires us to come to grips with the root causes of the multiple crises we are now experiencing. To do this, we need to know our history, analyze the forces which created those events, and, as Arundahti Roy reminds us, “We have to make common cause and to do this we need to understand how this big old machine works… who pays; who profits?”
When, in 1990 UBC School of Social Work Professor, Frank Tester suggested to some local people that the Comox Valley would be a great place for a documentary film festival with a focus on international development, and when the first festival committee of 16 people* began planning that festival, none among them could have imagined the impact this little festival might have.
With the assistance of small grants from CUSO, Oxfam BC and the first donation of $1000 from the Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council**, this little committee set in motion a process that would see at least 75,000 film viewings over the years at our festival alone, plus many more people watching these films at our traveling film festivals, film series, and through our lending library.
It is impossible to know what seeds of social change these films may have planted, but we believe that this small contribution to understanding “how this big old machine works,” is worthy of acknowledgement and celebration.
All of the dozens of past board members, hundreds of volunteers, community supporters of all kinds, and especially those wonderful cultural creatives who make the films that motivate us, have helped to ignite that ‘fierce light’ of compassionate activism that flows from our festival into every nook in our community. We honour these dreamers.
Far in the future,
When hard times have passed
When we can reach out
And touch freedom at last,
Though names are forgotten
Though voices are stilled,
Your dreams and your visions
Will live in this world.
* World Community’s first film festival organizing committee: Art Adye, Wayne Bradley, Jay Crowder, Anne Cubbitt, Lynda Drury, Shari Dunnett, Colleen Kasting, Barbara Unroe, Philip Lander, Sylvia Lawson, Hans Meyer, Mavis Mooney, Monica Mooney, Tish Scott, Frank Tester, Michelle Keefe.
** The Campbell River, Courtenay and District Labour Council has donated $1000 to each of our 20 festivals! Our profound gratitude goes to the 3500 brothers and sisters of our local labour movement for your vision and solidarity.