Saying Goodbye to Rick Turner

We are sad to share today that Rick Turner, founder of The Meaningful Movies Project (MMP), passed away on December 16, 2016, from an acute flare-up of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a disease he was diagnosed with six years ago.  Rick had also been diagnosed earlier this year with acute myeloid leukemia, and had undergone chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Rick was a long-time supporter of the Social Justice Film festival, contributing enthusiasm and encouragement and each year helping to further the festival’s mission.

Above all, he was passionate about and tirelessly committed to the vision for Meaningful Movies: educating people about social justice issues, while at the same time building bonds between people.  And to have fun while doing it!  Rick ignited an amazing spark and grew it into a fire that is now nurturing communities far and wide.

Rick, you will be missed by all of us at the SJFF. Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of social justice.

2016 Winning Films Announced


It was definitely not easy, but the awards panel has made its decision about this year’s crop of films. The Social Justice Film Festival 2016 is proud to announce the following films as very well-deserved award winners:


Director’s Choice Award

East of Salinas, directed by Laura Pacheco (USA)

The story of an undocumented 3rd grader whose dreams are threatened by deportation and gang violence.

Gold Jury Prize – Feature

Jackson, directed by Maisie Crow (USA)

An intimate look at the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, and the struggles of three women caught up in the abortion issue.

Silver Jury Prize – Feature

The Good Mind, directed by Gwendolen Cates (USA)

The leaders of the Onondaga Nation in New York strive to protect their sovereignty and culture within a state that stole most of their land.

Bronze Jury Prize – Feature

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

A couple who lost their son on 9/11 choose to seek reconciliation over revenge, and find their lives are changed by their decision.

Gold Jury Prize – Short

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

Set in the ‘jungle’ in Calais, this is the story of a young man fleeing the regime of Sudan and dreaming of a new life in the UK.

Silver Jury Prize  – Short

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

Through the experiences of two women in Oakland CA, this film explores the complex realities of domestic child sex trafficking.

Bronze Jury Prize – Short

Safe Passage, directed by Jessica Plumb (USA)

Two Pacific Northwest tribes endeavor to save the Salish Sea and protect their traditional fishing grounds from fossil fuel exports.

Best Narrative Feature

On the Farm, directed by Rachel Talalay (Canada)

The story of the women of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside during the reign of serial killer Robert Pickton.

Inspirational Justice Award

Truth Seekers, directed by Lani Cupchoy (USA)

A student-driven social justice movement tries to change educational courses and textbooks in California to include the 1930’s ‘Mexican Repatriation’.

Best Narrative Short

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

A Japanese-American family returns home from an internment camp after World War II and attempts to pick up the pieces of their lives.

Best Documentary Micro-Short

Invisibility, directed by Sarah Emery (Australia)

4 people who identify as having a mental illness work with a costume designer to create outfits that represent how their illness makes them feel.


We wish to extend a sincere thank you to the hard-working crews behind every film we screened this year. The strength of the filmmaking, as well as the sheer breadth of topic and style, made this an incredible year for the festival.

As ever, we want our festival to be a jumping off point for discussion and action, and are confident that this year many eyes were opened and many hearts were inspired around some very important topics.

Roll on 2017!

The SJFF Team

2016 festival line-up finalized!

ecc-houseJudging for the 2016 SJFF is done and filmmakers are sending in their press material and films. We are excited to present a program that includes powerful films on worker rights,  immigration, prisoner justice, privacy and surveillance, union struggle, reproductive rights, cyberbullying, Black Lives Matter, Native American rights, police violence, refugees, trafficking, financial control and austerity, shoreline restoration, disability rights, ending war, and more.  Complete details will be online within a week.

**A sneak preview:

The 2016 festival features will be East of Salinas, The Good Mind, Goodwin’s Way, Here’s to Flint, If I See You I’ll Say Hi, In Our Son’s Name, Jackson, Katarina Taikon, Kidnap Capital, Killswitch, Milwaukee 53206, On the Farm, Promised Land, Scene Queen, Transient, La Troisième Langue, and Zona Intangible.

Festival shorts will be:  A Job I Can Enjoy, Baltimore: A Moment to a Movement, A Call to Action, Children in Gold, Climb to Justice, Counter Act, Divestment Victory at Columbia, An Education, Exile Incessant, Fare Share, Fashion to Die For, Film Forever, For the Birds, From Flint, HOPPLA!, I Am a #young worker, Invisibility, La Condena, Les Cloys, Limpiadores, Local Treasure, Mothering Inside, Nation, Poison Control, The Real Work, Right to Be Rescued, Safe Passage, Surviving International Boulevard, Tadaima, Thailand’s Seafood Slaves, Transit Zone, Truth Seekers, Voices from Kaw Thoo Lei, The Wall, What Makes Black People Black?

**Full Program Schedule to be Posted Soon!**

Washington State Labor Council – Film Contest

Here’s a small film competition opportunity to get you warmed up for this year’s Social Justice film festival — which will also feature a special focus on labor issues.


This year, the MayWorks Committee of the Washington State Labor Council presents the 5th annual WSLC Video Contest. Submit your 3- to 5-minute film with the theme of “Hold the Fort,” documenting how people are trying to improve their work lives and the lives of others, for your chance to win cash prizes and have it showcased at the MayWorks events.

Historically, the labor movement has been a driving force in the production of arts and culture. Union members have used music and art to affirm the work they do on the job, at home, in their communities, and in their unions. MayWorks is a month long celebration of that culture and the art of workers.

The deadline to submit entries is Monday, May 16. Send them electronically to the WSLC c/o Willa Hockley-Smith, 321 16th Ave. South, Seattle, WA, 98144. Email her or call 206-281-8901 for more information.

Berta Caceres murdered in Honduras



Today is a sad day for us at the Social Justice Film Festival. In yet another tragic human rights violation in Honduras, Berta Cáceres, an indigenous human rights and environmental activist, has been murdered. Cáceres was profiled in this year’s Best Feature winning film, Resistencia.

The tragedy, as reported in The Guardian:

Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, has been murdered, barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project.
Her death prompted international outrage at the murderous treatment of campaigners in Honduras, as well as a flood of tributes to a prominent and courageous defender of the natural world.


We urge you to take a moment to inform yourself about her important work. Please consider sharing the sad news to draw much-needed attention to the current situation in Honduras. We also recommend viewing the film Resistencia to learn more about the causes for which Cáceres fought. Check out the trailer or view the film online for a nominal fee at

Read more at: Democracy Now and The Stranger.

2015 Festival Winning Films Announced


After much deliberation, given the high caliber of all of this year’s films, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Social Justice Film Festival in the categories of Best Feature, Best Short, and Best Micro-Short:

Best Feature

Resistencia, directed by Jesse Freeston

Best Short

El Cacao, directed by Michelle E. Aguilar

Best Micro-Short

Locavore: Pigs in the Park, directed by Joseph Andrew Mclean


Thank you to everyone for being a part of this year’s festival on food justice. It was a resounding success, and we’re grateful to see all of the hard work happening in communities around the world on this important topic.

See you next year,

The SSJFF Staff

Calling Food Justice Filmmakers

FarmingAre you passionate about food justice and films? So are we. The Social Justice Film Festival is pleased to announce we will be sponsoring a special Food Justice Film Screening on October 16 and 17, 2015 in partnership with Columbia Legal Services—and we want to see YOUR films!

Potential topics include farmworker justice, agribusiness, GMO labeling, food deserts, the industrial food system, food insecurity, sustainable farming (organic, permaculture), animal rights, hunger and poverty, urban farming, water, WTO and global food systems, the Green Revolution, the food/health connection, food sovereignty, school food programs, and more. The event will take place at University Christian Church in Seattle’s University District; details will be posted soon.

Our call for submissions is live. We invite producers and directors of all new films, narrative and documentary, feature and short, that focus on the array of food justice issues to submit your film to this special festival screening event at  or by June 1 (regular deadline) or July 1 (late deadline). Contact us at anne@socialjusticefilmfestival if you have any questions.

The next full Social Justice Film Festival will be in 2016—stay tuned for more announcements in coming months.

Hope to see you in October,


Festival announces 2014 winning films!

The Social Justice Film Festival is proud to announce the winning 2014 films, in the following categories. The 12-day festival, held October 18-30, featured 50 films from around the world, with a special focus on prisoner justice.


Director’s Choice Award: The Vigil, directed by Jenny Alexander

Gina, an undocumented single mother, risks arrest and deportation when she joins an ongoing vigil on the Arizona State Capitol lawn to stop America’s most controversial immigration law, “Papers, Please,” from going into effect.

Gold Jury Prize – FeatureReturn of the River, directed by John Gussman and Jessica Plumb

A group of people attempt the impossible: to persuade a town and eventually the nation to bring a dam down. This film shows how the community came to a consensus, setting Washington state’s Elwha River free and showing the way to a more sustainable future.

Silver Jury Prize – FeatureWar Against Women, directed by Hernan Zin

War Against Women

The use of rape as a weapon of war is often-ignored crime, which leaves victims unacknowledged and lets criminals go unpunished. Filmed in ten different countries over a span of three years, War Against Women exposes rape as a weapon and uncovers its heartbreaking legacy for victims and their families.

Bronze Jury Prize – FeaturePrison Terminal, directed by Edgar Barnes

Prison Terminal

At America’s oldest maximum security prison, a terminally ill prisoner spends the final months of his life in hospice. This film breaks through prison walls to recount the story of the prisoner and the hospice volunteers, themselves prisoners, who cared for him.

Gold Jury Prize – ShortsMestizo, directed by Talon Gonzalez


Multiethnic individuals express the complexity of identity when confronted with the question ‘What are you?’ Through spoken-word performance and interviews, subjects share their experiences of growing up mixed-race in the 21st century.

Silver Jury Prize – Shorts L’Efecte Aleatori, directed by Nofre Moya

L’Efecte Aleatorie

Economic crisis and overpopulation lead a European country to bankruptcy. Aleix, a biologist, discovers a molecule that causes death randomly among members of a community where it is applied. Will he succumb to political power to release the virus among the lower classes?

Bronze Jury Prize – ShortsTears, directed by Yahya Ghobadi


Tears is a short film that mixes animations with found footage of warfare to tell the story of a little girl and her family caught in a war zone as they celebrate the girl’s birthday. This film juxtaposes the innocence of a child in celebration with the atrocities of war.

Special Category Prizes

Prisoner Justice Prize – Natural Life, directed by Tirtza Even

Natural Life

Natural Life

This experimental documentary challenges inequities in the U.S. juvenile justice system by documenting and re-enacting the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to life without parole (natural life) for crimes they committed as youth.

Worker Justice Prize – Wisconsin Rising, directed by Sam Mayfield

Wisconsin Rising

Wisconsin Rising

In 2011, the people of Wisconsin occupied the State House when Governor Scott Walker introduced legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights from the state’s public employees. Wisconsin Rising tells the story of the largest sustained workers resistance in American history.

Best Narrative Film – Paper Crane, directed by Yu Shibuya

PAPER CRANE 1_smA clinic worker guides a man through three rooms: the room of brightness brings back the man’s happiest memory, the room of shadows brings back his most painful memory, and the room of dreams helps him recall bygone aspirations. But what is the purpose of this facility?

Best Animation – The Box, directed by Michael Schiller

The Box

The Box

Every year, thousands of teens are placed in solitary confinement cells in juvenile halls, jails, and prisons nationwide. This animation tells the story of Ismael “Izzy” Nazario and the time he spent in solitary confinement in New York City’s Rikers Island jail.

Youth Visions

Gold Jury Prize – Youth VisionsRiffing on the Dream, directed by students at Chief Sealth High School

Riffing on the Dream

Riffing on the Dream

African-American students at a Seattle high school appear on camera to give candid, unrehearsed answers to questions posed by their fellow students. These powerful voices open a doorway into their world that will make you question stereotypes.

Silver Jury Prize – Youth VisionsOut of Focus, directed by Adrian Arce and Antonio Zirion

Out of Focus

Out of Focus

Out of Focus is a collaborative documentary about arts, culture, and everyday life inside a prison for minors. It was shot during a photography and video workshop with young inmates at the Juvenile Community for Specialized Treatment in San Fernando, Mexico City.

Bronze Jury Prize – Youth VisionsLie, directed by Lisa Jiang



Ying is an illegal immigrant struggling to make it in America. When she applies for a job in the fashion industry, it is with the naive hope of gaining a work visa. However, being so used to hiding, she has spun a web of lies that ultimately puts her daughter, and her freedom, in danger.