News

Press Contact: Rhenda Meiser, 206-465-9532, rhenda@rhendameiser.com

  • Seattle’s Social Justice Film Festival announces 2016 awards— Women directors seize prizes

    November 17, 2016     Download Release

    Seattle–The Social Justice Film Festival announced the winners of its fifth annual festival held last month. The two-week festival screened 52 films from around the world.

    Several prizes went to women, including Pacific Northwest filmmakers Rachel Talalay from British Columbia and Jessica Plumb from the Olympic Peninsula.

    On the Farm—Best Narrative Feature—is a dramatization chronicling Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside missing women during serial killer Robert Pickton’s active years. Using a combination of fictional and real characters, the film retells the narrative of real-life events placing the women’s stories front and center (directed by Rachel Talalay).

    Safe Passage—Bronze Jury Prize for Short Film—features two Northwest tribes working to save the Salish Sea and protect their traditional fishing grounds in the face of growing pressure for fossil-fuel exports through Pacific Northwest waterways (directed by Jessica Plumb).

    Jackson—Gold Jury Prize for Feature Film—is an intimate, unprecedented look at the lives of three women caught up in the issues of abortion access at Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic (directed by Maisie Crow).

    “These provocative films left us dazzled by their artistry and the filmmakers’ passion for justice. They were part of a stellar lineup of films dedicated to mending injustice and inequality, ” said Festival Director Anne Paxton.

    Director’s Choice film humanizes the struggle for citizenship
    The festival also awarded its Director’s Choice Award to the feature-length documentary East of Salinas. This film follows an undocumented 3rd grader who dreams of becoming an engineer. As deportation and gang violence threaten his future, he begins to understand what it really means to be “born in Mexico.”

    2016 Awards

    Director’s Choice Award

    East of Salinas, directed by Laura Pacheco (USA)

    Gold Jury Prize – Feature

    Jackson, directed by Maisie Crow (USA)

    Silver Jury Prize – Feature

    The Good Mind, directed by Gwendolen Cates (USA)

    Bronze Jury Prize – Feature

    In Our Son’s Name, directed by Gayla Jamison (USA)

    Gold Jury Prize – Short

    Transit Zone, directed by Frederik Subei (Scotland/UK)

    Silver Jury Prize  – Short

    Surviving International Boulevard, directed by Sian Taylor Gowan (USA)

    Bronze Jury Prize – Short

    Safe Passage, directed by Jessica Plumb (USA)

    Best Narrative Feature

    On the Farm, directed by Rachel Talalay (Canada)

    Inspirational Justice Award

    Truth Seekers, directed by Lani Cupchoy (USA)

    Best Narrative Short

    Tadaima, directed by Robin Takao D’Oench (USA)

    Best Documentary Micro-Short

    Invisibility, directed by Sarah Emery (Australia)

    ABOUT THE FESTIVAL

    Based in Seattle, Wash., the Social Justice Film Festival showcases bold and creative films on social issues that shape our humanity. To learn more, visit socialjusticefilmfestival.org.

     

  • Fifth annual Social Justice Film Festival to explore worker justice and Black Lives Matter movement

    September 26, 2016     Download Advisory

    WHAT:

    The 5th annual film festival will showcase documentaries and narrative films exploring social-justice subjects pulled from today’s culture and headlines.

    This year, the Seattle festival will highlight films on worker rights, immigration, prisoner justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and internet surveillance and privacy. The festival will present several screenings with community groups and host talks with high-profile activists.

    Kickoff on Worker Justice: On October 14, the festival, Columbia Legal Services, and the Northwest Justice Project will co-host a screening of East of Salinas, a film about an undocumented family whose dreams are threatened by deportation and the gig economy. Legal experts and the filmmaker will lead a panel discussion about worker rights.

    Black Lives Matter Series: On October 18, moviegoers can explore the Flint water crisis with two films (From Flint and Here’s to Flint) and visit the zip code with the most incarcerated residents in the country (Milkwaukee 53206).

    WHO:

    Sponsored by the Social Justice Film Festival with Columbia Legal Services, CineCity and occupy.com, Northwest Justice Project, MacDonald Hoague & Bayless, ProForum, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, The Stranger, KBCS, the University of Washington Department of Law, Societies and Justice, and Yoga Behind Bars.

    WHEN:

    October 14-25, 2016

    WHERE:

    Northwest Film Forum, University of Washington Ethnic Cultural Center Theatre, and University Christian Church

    COST:

    Tickets are $7-15. Student/senior/low-income discounts, festival pass pricing, and special-event fees are listed at www.socialjusticefilmfestival.org.

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    Screeners are now available for press preview. Festival logo and film photos are available upon request.

    ABOUT US:

    The Social Justice Film Festival showcases brave and creative films on social issues that shape our humanity.

  • October “Food Justice in Focus” Film Festival Spotlights Washington Farm Workers & Communities of Color

    Columbia Legal Services partners with Social Justice Film Festival to highlight food justice through film, music, advocacy, and discussion
    October 1, 2015

    (Seattle) — Our local and national food system frequently relies on the toil of underpaid workers, the exploitation of natural resources, and the subjugation of the environment through pesticide use and other destructive farming practices. Despite the heavy cost, many people – especially low-income communities and communities of color – still struggle to access affordable, healthy food.

    Columbia Legal Services and the Social Justice Film Festival are teaming up to host a two-day film festival that features film, art, and discussion highlighting the human cost of our food system and how farm workers and communities of color are fighting back. The festival includes a wide selection of short and feature-length films from Washington State and across the nation that touch on rural and urban agriculture, food activism, farm worker justice, fair trade, and the economic and political implications of our food system.

    “As an organization with a long history of advocacy in support of fair pay, safe working conditions, and access to basic food and shelter, Columbia Legal Services believes that a more equitable society and sustainable planet are possible when everyone has the tools to achieve social and economic justice,” said Aurora Martin, executive director of Columbia Legal Services. “Honoring the people who grow, pick, and transport our food while listening to and educating young communities of color are essential components to the thriving food justice movement.”

    Washington State’s $49-billion food and agriculture industry is a key driver of our economic success. Meanwhile, our quickly-changing state’s demographics will be majority minority by 2050. Yet, the people behind our food system are often overlooked, from farm workers who pick our food to communities of color who face obstacles to putting affordable, locally-grown food on the table. The “Food Justice in Focus” festival aims to shine a spotlight on these communities who have a lot at stake in the growing food justice movement.

    WHAT: “Film. Art. Voices. Food Justice in Focus” Film Festival.

    WHO: Presented by Columbia Legal Services and the Social Justice Film Festival. Sponsored by Sonata Capital Group, Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore Hamburger, University Christian Church, 4Culture, the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Alibi Pictures, The Seattle Globalist, Seattle International Foundation, and The Stranger.

    WHEN:   Friday, October 16, 6:00 – 9:00pm – Films & Panel Discussion
    Saturday, October 17, 12:30 – 9:00pm – Film Festival

    WHERE: University Christian Church, 4731 15th Ave. NE, Seattle 98105

    COST: Friday: $10. Saturday: Suggested donation of $5. Media passes available.

    FRI. EVENTS:

    On October 16, the festival will screen two films: FOOD CHAIN$, a documentary about the human costs of our food supply executive-produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation; and Fruits of Justice, produced by Columbia Legal Services, which highlights how four women – advocates and legal aid lawyers – teamed up to support farm workers in their effort to create a union at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Skagit County.

    Following the films, FOOD CHAIN$ director Sanjay Rawal will moderate an engaging panel discussion with:

    ·      DJ Cavem – A former gang member turned organic gardener, B-Boy, and educator, DJ Cavem is the founder of Eco HipHop, an organization dedicated to inspiring inner-city youth to connect to the earth by teaching them how to grow food, cultivate healthy eating habits, and protect the environment.

    ·      Emma Zavala-Suarez – An attorney, medical student, Mexican immigrant, and former farm worker, Emma is an advocate for public health and immigrant and farm worker rights.

    ·      Andrea Schmitt – An attorney with the Immigrant Workers Group at Columbia Legal Services, Andrea is featured in the film Fruits of Justice and was part of the litigation team that won four injunctions under Washington State labor and discrimination laws on behalf of Familias Unidas por la Justicia, the union fighting Sakuma Brothers Farms.

    During intermission, refreshments will be provided at a photo exhibition, “The Faces of Food Justice,” by Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project.

    SAT. EVENTS:

    On October 17, browse exhibits and watch new films that explore waste in our food system, living wages for food workers, farm worker resistance in Honduras, and fair-trade cocoa farming.

    Highlights include the documentary UNFAIR GAME: THE POLITICS OF POACHING. Last summer’s killing of Cecil the Lion has opened America’s eyes to the corrupt world of poaching, but what’s really going on? Robert Redford will guide you into the lush lands of Africa to see how activists are promoting alternative ways for villagers to earn a living and feed their families. But tensions persist when punishment for poaching crosses the line. Local films TO BUILD A FOREST and WILDLIFE DETECTIVES will explore Beacon Hill’s food forest and shellfish poaching in the Puget Sound.

    Editor’s Note: Screeners, interviews, press kits, and film photos are available upon request. Contact Rhenda Meiser at rhenda@rhendameiser.com or 206-465-9532.

    The Social Justice Film Festival showcases brave and creative films on social issues that shape our humanity.

    Columbia Legal Services advocates for people who face injustice and poverty. We seek to achieve social and economic justice for all, using policy reform, litigation, and innovative partnerships to reveal and end actions that harm the communities we serve.

    Download the Release

  • Social Justice Film Festival announces 2014 awards –
    Seattle filmmakers win two

    November 17, 2014

    (Seattle) — The Social Justice Film Festival announced the winners of its third annual festival held last month. The two-week festival screened 52 films from around the world.

    Photo by Colette-Yasi Naraghi

    Return of the River filmmakers Jessica Plumb and John Gussman after the screening. (Photo by Colette-Yasi Naraghi)

    Two award-winners are local
    Return of the River—winner of the Gold Jury Prize for Feature Film—tells the story of the Port Angeles, Wash., community that made the controversial decision to remove the Elwha River dam and restore the river’s ecosystem. At the screening last month, the audience raved about the movie’s cinematography and story of the biggest dam-removal project in history.

    “Whenever social justice issues are debated, one question always comes up: Is there any hope? Return of the River gives us the confidence to say yes,” says Festival Director Anne Paxton. “When we see this film, we know there is never an excuse for giving up and saying ‘what’s done is done.’”

    Riffing on the Dream student filmmakers from Chief Sealth with faculty adviser Paul Fischburg. (Photo by Colette-Yasi Naraghi)

    Riffing on the Dream—winner of the Gold Jury Prize for Youth Visions—is a documentary by students at Chief Sealth International High School in West Seattle. In the film, students from the Black Student Union answered unscripted questions from classmates to prompt racial dialogue within their school.

    “The Black Student Union at Chief Sealth made a courageous film to give some answers on what racism really is, especially as it relates to traps of language like ‘ghetto,’ ‘nigga,’ and ‘ratchet.’ We are brought face-to-face with young people who honestly tell their experiences with harmful stereotypes and labels. The film exemplifies the goal of our Youth Visions competition: to reveal the often-overlooked youth experience,” says Paxton.

    Gina, main subject of The Vigil, interacts with the audience after the panel discussion with Jose Antonio Vargas. (Photo by Anne Paxton)

    Gina, main subject of The Vigil, interacts with the audience after the panel discussion with Jose Antonio Vargas. (Photo by Anne Paxton)

    Director’s Choice film humanizes the struggle for citizenship
    The festival also awarded its Director’s Choice Award to the feature-length documentary The Vigil. In the film, Gina, an undocumented single mother, risks arrest and deportation when she joins a vigil on the Arizona State Capitol lawn to stop America’s most controversial immigration law, “Papers Please,” from going into effect.

    The Vigil is about the American dream, a dream of a better life for one’s children, and how a woman of deep character fought for it. To see Gina’s serene conviction that she will overcome all obstacles to change America’s harsh immigration policy is deeply inspiring.  We loved The Vigil; it’s a powerful film that shows the sheer moral force of a human being who appeals to everyone’s better nature,” says Paxton. Full Press Release

  • “Stories to change the world” at the Social Justice Film Festival

    October 09, 2014

    (Seattle) — The Social Justice Film Festival returns Oct. 18-30 with 52 bold documentary and narrative films exploring immigration policy, prisoner justice, and human rights around the world.

    “Seattle exemplifies the spirit of committed activism and is the perfect city for the Social Justice Film Festival,” says festival director Anne Paxton. “We’re excited to show this collection of path-breaking and provocative films.” Full Press Release

  • Social Justice Film Festival announces 2013 award winners

    November 15, 2013

    Social Justice Film Festival announces 2013 Jury Prizes and Director’s Choice Awards

    Seattle– The Social Justice Film Festival has announced the winners of its Gold Jury Prize, Director’s Choice Award, and Youth Visions Showcase. The 11-day festival, held October 7-17, featured 60 films from around the world, with a special focus on prisoner justice. Full Press Release

  • Festive

    October 9, 2013

    THE STRANGER

    Sponsored by Seattle’s great Books to Prisoners—the all-volunteer organization that mails 15,000 packages of reading materials to prisoners each year—the Social Justice Film Festival packs 60 films exploring racism, criminal justice, and global human rights into four days of screenings all over town (from downtown’s Cinerama and Market Theater to Ballard’s Majestic Bay to the Rainier Valley Cultural Center). This year’s official focus: prisoner justice, with a sub-focus on prestigious guests.

    Among the highlights: Mothers of Bedford, Jenifer McShane’s festival-opening documentary following the lives of five women (all mothers with young children) incarcerated in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. Tula the Revolt, a high-drama action film about a historical slave uprising in Curacao (with star and social activist Danny Glover in attendance for a post-film Q&A!). Invisible Young, Steve Keller’s documentary following four young adults who were all homeless teens on the streets of Seattle. And The Central Park Five with Sister Helen Prejean, featuring Ken Burns’s brilliant documentary about the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989, followed by a talk by Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and tireless social justice activist, who will speak about the death penalty and her work to promote prisoner justice. See more

  • When film gets reel

    October 07, 2013

    THE DAILY

    As a city flush with film festivals and art-house theaters, unique film events in Seattle are nothing outside the norm. But film events seeking to change some of society’s norms are more rare. The upcoming Social Justice Film Festival (SJFF) uses film not only as an art form, but as a platform for social change.

    With sponsors like American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Occupy.com, Campaign for Safe and Just Alternatives, and Real Change, SJFF has more than just film on its agenda. Director Anne Paxton and Assistant Director Laura Brady hope that the festival will not only entertain, but bring vital social justice issues to light and raise awareness of the problems spotlighted through the accessibility and relatability of film.

    “So many of the real social justice issues of our time are things we may never see or experience in our day-to-day lives, but we may be contributing to,” said Brady, an alumna of the Jackson School of International Studies. “Film is a way that we can see these broader issues.” See more

  • A flurry of film festivals; arts events; ‘Enter the Dragon’

    October 03, 2013

    SEATTLE TIMES

    The Social Justice Film Festival, featuring 60 short and feature-length documentaries and narrative films, comes to several locations in Seattle from Thursday to Oct. 13. Sister Helen Prejean is the keynote speaker for the free screening of “The Central Park Five,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at University Christian Church, 4731 15th Ave. N.E., Seattle. Danny Glover will participate in a post-film Q&A after the 4 p.m. Oct. 13 screening of “Tula: The Revolt” at Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., Seattle. Details and tickets at 800-838-3006 or socialjusticefilmfestival.org. See more

  • Film Fests Spotlight Social Justice

    September 25, 2013

    CITY ARTS
    “Film can be such a powerful art form,” says Anne Paxton, director of the 2013 Social Justice Film Festival. “It can create a shift in people’s thinking on a cultural level. The Thin Blue Line helped free a man who was unjustly accused of murder, and that’s just one example.” See more 

  • Life sentence

    October 02, 2013

    REAL CHANGE NEWS
    Elmo Patrick Sonnier committed two heinous crimes.

    On Nov. 5, 1977, Patrick and his brother Eddie dressed as police officers and abducted two Louisiana teenagers from a local lover’s lane. After they handcuffed the 16-year-old male of the couple to a tree, the brothers raped the 18-year-old girl. Then they placed both teens face down on the ground, and, using a .22-caliber rifle, the brothers shot each teen three times in the back of the head.

    Sister Helen Prejean didn’t know about those crimes in January 1982, when someone from a prisoner rights group asked her to become Patrick’s pen pal. At the time, Patrick was on death row at Angola, the nickname for the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the country’s largest maximum security prison. So when Prejean, a Catholic nun, found out what he and his brother had done, she doubted whether she should begin a correspondence. But then she reminded herself of her commitment to stand with the poor, and she agreed to write Patrick. He wrote back. Prejean became his spiritual advisor prior to his execution in the electric chair. The role not only transformed her life, it changed the way millions of people view the death penalty. See more

  • Social Justice Film Festival turns a creative lens on racism, human rights and prisoner justice

    September 27, 2013
    The Social Justice Film Festival returns Oct. 10-13 with 60 documentaries and films exploring a range of social-justice topics including racism and poverty, criminal justice, and human rights around the world. Full Press Release

  • Breaking: Danny Glover and Sister Helen Prejean Announced as Keynote Speakers at the Seattle Social Justice Film Festival

    May 09, 2013
    Danny Glover and Sister Helen are both actively involved in issues surrounding incarceration and will thus speak to this year’s special festival section on ‘Prisoner Justice.’ Full Press Release

  • Announcing Youth Visions Competition for Young Filmmakers

    March 15, 2013
    The Social Justice Film Festival is proud to announce the opening of the Youth Visions competition, which the film festival is sponsoring to encourage young adults (21 and under) to produce innovative films on issues of prisoner justice. Full Press Release

  • Call for Entries: 2nd Seattle Social Justice Film Festival scheduled for October 10-13, 2013

    February 20, 2013
    Seattle’s second Social Justice Film Festival, with a special focus on prisoner justice, is not being planned by the national group Books to Prisoners and will take place at the Market Theater in Pike Place Market and other Seattle venues October 10-13, 2013. Full Press Release

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