Projecting Change Film Festival looks to educate, inspire, and empower

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      Although some of the selections at the 2013 edition of the Projecting Change Film Festival are receiving their Vancouver premiere, executive director Katie Schaeffers feels very strongly about opening the event with Kicking It—even though it’s five years old. The Colin Farrell–narrated documentary follows 500 soccer players from 48 nations to the 2006 Homeless World Cup, an annual competition with the aim of engaging homeless people to make changes in their lives through sport.

      “We’ve partnered with the Vancouver Street Soccer League, which works diligently to help people…some of them living on the street, some of them living in single-room occupancy housing,” Schaeffers tells the Georgia Straight by phone. “I’m really thrilled to be partnering with them on opening night and taking that global question of homelessness and poverty and really localizing it.”

      A collection of 18 feature-length and short documentaries make up the schedule for PCFF 2013, to be screened at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts from Wednesday (April 24) to April 28. This year, the chosen films—which span Mongolia, West Africa, Australia, Canada, and the U.S.—explore themes of empowerment, education, and the world. In addition, the festival will feature speakers such as Liberia 77 filmmaker Jeff Topham, seminars, a documentary workshop, and even a one-day Urban Yoga Retreat (next Saturday [April 27].)

      “We looked at events like TEDx and PechaKucha, and everybody leaves these events feeling so inspired and feeling like they really learned something,” Schaeffers says. “We’re using film as a platform to inspire dialogue, and we’re selecting films that have either screened elsewhere or they’ve had some recognition in other places.”

      One film that premiered at the 2011 Doc NYC, This Space Available, will have its Canadian premiere at PCFF on April 25.

      “It focuses on the concept of visual pollution and how our world is being overtaken by outdoor advertising, big billboards, and too much branding,” Schaeffers explains. “The film really considers the line between art and advertising.…We actually have the director, Gwenaelle Gobé, coming to Vancouver to do the talk-back after the film, which is really, really exciting.”

      Another major score for the festival is its closing-night film, Girl Rising, which premiered at the latest Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Academy Award nominee Richard Robbins, the movie tells the stories of nine girls from nine countries, including Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and Peru, each seeking an education in the direst of situations. Girl Rising is narrated by nine well-known actors, including Anne Hathaway and Salma Hayek.

      “It’s a really interesting film because it’s sort of a docudrama,” Schaeffers says. “It’s all true stories, but because of the sensitive nature of some of the stories in the film, they actually had to hire actresses to portray some of these young women that the film follows.”

      Schaeffers also notes that viewers can be “a bit overwhelmed” by the issues raised at something like Projecting Change. “How do we solve poverty? How do we solve world hunger?” she asks. “The biggest take-away that we want for them is to feel like they can make a small, actionable change when they walk out of the theatre.”

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