World Community Film Festival gets to the heart of the matter

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      For producer Ronit Avni, one of the most unforgettable moments in making the film Budrus was when she returned to the Palestinian village of the same name to screen the documentary.

      Seeing the reaction of the Budrus residents as they watched their story projected on the side of a school was a moving way to cap off a multiyear process that began when a small, nonviolent movement formed in 2003 to save the village from destruction.

      Watch the trailer for Budrus.

      “It’s very seldom that people stop and recognize the small contributions that are a necessary foundation for ending this conflict, so to be able to do that with them collectively was a moment I’ll never forget,” Avni told the Georgia Straight from her office in Washington, D.C.

      This unique story of a community organizer bringing together people of various political factions to protect the Palestinian village from Israel’s controversial wall is just one of more than 40 filmed stories that are scheduled as part of the World Community Film Festival, which takes place at Langara College from Friday to Sunday (February 11 to 13).

      Coordinator Erin Mullan said this year’s festival aims to provide examples of hope and inspire change.

      “”˜Heart of the matter’ is our theme”¦it’s because the films in the festival go right to the heart of things, and also about the heart that people put into these struggles,” Mullan said by phone. “We’re always looking for ways for people to find hope for change, inspiration, that will make them want to help positive change in their own communities and their lives.”

      Avni said Budrus, the opening-night film, examines three core messages relating to the power of nonviolence, unity across divides, and the central role that women played in the village conflict.

      “I think that it’s important for people to see that it’s not an act of charity to include women; it’s actually a strategic liability to exclude them, and I think that comes across in the film,” said Avni.

      About half of the documentary was pulled together using archival material shot by activists and human-rights advocates who were in Budrus when the events occurred in 2003 and 2004; the other half is comprised of footage and interviews shot since 2007 with the parties involved in the conflict.

      Following the opening-night feature, the festival will feature a series of films on food, farming, and the environment on Saturday afternoon, including a documentary about local-food movements called Fresh and Vanishing of the Bees, which examines the work of commercial beekeepers against a background of bee colonies disappearing worldwide.

      A music double bill will be screened on Saturday evening, including the film Soundtrack for a Revolution, about freedom songs of the American civil-rights movement, and "Music By Prudence", a film set in Zimbabwe that won the 2010 Academy Award for best short documentary.

      The festival lineup also includes an afternoon of films on the issue of oil tankers on B.C.’s north and central coasts, including the documentary “Oil in Eden”, about groups opposing the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, and "Black Wave", which portrays the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989.

      Other works include the local film Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride, which follows the director of Vancouver’s pride parade as he travels to parades in other countries.

      The Langara Student Film Festival, now in its fifth year, will also be featured in conjunction with the WCFF.