A World on Film

Film Festival seeks to educate and entertain…

A scene from ‘Garbage Dreams’, <a href=

generic showing at this year’s Festival in February.” width=”255″ height=”360″ />

The World Community Film Festival has been bringing films from around the globe to Courtenay for the past 18 years. February 5 and 6, 2010 sees the 19th annual festival launch yet another exciting weekend of documentary films showing in five venues in Downtown Courtenay.

“It seems that there’s an organic process that happens,” explains Wayne Bradley, one of the four committee members who chooses the films. “The films we receive for selection seem to reflect the issues we hear people talking about in our own community—how to live sustainably, global warming, healthcare, the economy, farming and finding common ground. Issues such as resource extraction, whether from the Canadian tar sands or Latin America, whether it’s for minerals, oil or exporting water, these are big issues that affect people all round the globe.”

It’s issues like this that many Valley residents and people from as far as Victoria come to find out about. They want to be informed and independent movie making is an excellent source for information. People also want to know about solutions to many problems we experience in our own towns. The festival is a showcase of stories of everyday heroes who have stepped forward to take action, responding to the challenges they see in their world. Those solutions can come from as far afield as Bogata, Columbia.

“To many of us, Columbia is a country filled with drug-running gangsters, and we don’t know of the huge strides being made in its capital city,” Bradley says. “The film, Bogotá: Building a Sustainable City, shows how the mayor of Bogata had a vision for his city. In Bogotá they have an enviable transportation system with bikes and walking being an integral part of it; parks and green spaces are proliferating—it’s marvellous. These people are creating a sustainable city, it’s an inspiration.”

The Film Festival is a vital conduit for information from unusual and alternative sources. Solutions to common problems are being found around the planet and their films share the information and knowledge with us.

Choosing the films is a long process that begins months before opening night. Films make the rounds of the four committee members—Bradley, Janet Fairbanks, Heather Wilkinson and Gordon Darby. Each participant rates their opinion on the cover before sending it on. All the films are chosen by concensus. This is a time-consuming labour of love with the potential to be overwhelming—there are films on many topics most of us don’t want to know about. The committee has to do a fine juggling act between information that is helpful or that they think ought to be more widely known, yet not have the viewers leave with a feeling of helplessness and that the world is a vile place.

“The aims are to unite people and let us see we are facing the same problems, and that there is power in protest, raising one’s voice, getting involved politically, whether it’s writing letters or running for office.

“We’ve never had such a huge choice before,” Bradley says. “With the recent strides in affordable technology, anyone can make a film now. One of our selections comes from Burma and was made by Burmese people with cell phone cameras, or little cameras held at waist-height, during the recent uprisings there. Brave people—and it’s totally riveting!”
Another film entitled Garbage Dreams, was filmed over four years and has won multiple international awards, including being short listed for an Academy Award. Garbage Dreams follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade in the world’s largest garbage village, a ghetto on the outskirts of Cairo and the decisions they are forced to make when globalization threatens their livelihood.

“In these times of wars, financial collapse, and environmental devastation, people everywhere are wondering, is change possible? When you find out what people are doing around the world to help make a positive change, it’s inspiring. Gandhi called it ‘soul force,’ and Martin Luther King called it ‘love in action’—it’s discovering the fierce light of compassionate activism, which awakens the human heart while simultaneously transforming the world.”

Tickets for the festival will be available at the Sid Williams Theatre mid-December, just in time for Christmas. $28/weekend pass and $18 Saturday only. Low-income tickets $12 for the weekend and $8 Saturday; youth under 20 can attend for $3. When not viewing films, festival-goers can browse through the Bazaar, held Saturday in the Upper Florence Filberg Centre, to find info about community groups and have a snack. For a list of films see the program guide at