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ARTS & LIFE

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2012

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White Rock Social Justice Film Festival

Six docs put spin on today’s hot topics By-donation annual event is this weekend at First United Church Tom Zillich

Now staff twitter@tomzillich

Watch, listen and think. Essentially, this is what organizers hope for those who attend a series of movies this weekend at a church venue. White Rock Social Justice Film Festival, now in its eighth year, happens Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24-25) at First United Church, 15385 Semiahmoo Ave. Six documentary movies will be screened at the two-day festival, a by-donation gathering that aims to showcase some thought-provoking movies. “Our intent is to create awareness of all these problems we have in the world today,” said Phil DeRosa, a director of the small but dedicated society that stages the festival. “There are so many problems that need to be addressed, and there is so much silence on some of the issues, and also misinformation out there. We’re trying to counteract that with this festival.” The festival was initiated as an outreach program at First United Church, which still serves as venue for the festival and also the semi-regular Friday Film Night events hosted by White Rock Social Justice Film Festival Society. The fest has gained momentum over the years, with as many as 225 people in attendance for a single screening, DeRosa said. This year’s festival is launched Friday (Feb. 24) at 7 p.m. with director Oliver Stone’s South of the Border, a “road trip” kind of movie that explores the social and political movements of South America, with interviews of seven of its elected presidents. Discussions and Q&A sessions follow each of the six documentaries shown during the festival. For South of the Border, the post-film guest is Merli Vanegas, Venezuelan Consul General.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (above) rides a bicycle in his grandmother’s backyard in the Oliver Stone-directed documentary movie South of the Border, to be screened as part of this weekend’s White Rock Social Justice Film Festival (Feb. 24-25). Also featured is How Sweet the Sound, a look at folk icon Joan Baez (left).

Our intent is to create awareness of all these problems we have in the world today. “Those post-film discussions really make it all worthwhile,” DeRosa, a five-year member of the festival organizing group, told the Now. Five movies will be shown Saturday (Feb. 25), including a 10 a.m. screening of Rainforest, the Limit of Spendour, with filmmaker/photographer Richard Boyce in attendance. Other films screened Saturday include Amy Miller’s Myths for Profit (11:30 a.m.) and Blood and Oil (2 p.m.),

both of which will be followed by discussions led by Peter Prontzos, a political science professor at Langara College. Later, Taggart Siegel’s Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? (3:40 p.m.) will offer a post-film chat with local bee master John Gibeau. The final movie, a 7 p.m. showing of the music doc Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound, features a festival-closing concert with teen musicians Andrew Skepast and Raaz Chatterjee. “We always try to end the festival on a lighter note,” DeRosa said. A more detailed look at each of the films in the festival is online at whiterocksocialjusticefilmfestival.ca. If you go, consider bringing a loonie for a cup of organic coffee provided by Holy Smoke Coffee Company — all proceeds to White Rock Social Justice Film Society.

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