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20+ films ‘seeking truth’ showcased in 10th KDocsFF festival in February

Surrey-based event is billed as Metro Vancouver’s premier social justice documentary film festival
A scene from “Ascension,” a documentary focused on China’s industrial supply chain. The film and others will be screened during another online edition of KDocsFF, a social-justice documentary film festival, Feb. 18-27. (Photo:

“Seeking Truth. Waging Change” is the theme of the 10th-anniversary edition of KDocsFF, a Surrey-based event billed as Metro Vancouver’s premier social justice documentary film festival.

Starting Feb. 18, the event returns online with more than 20 films and three live special presentations (with audience question-and-answer sessions), all focused on the subject of “seeking truth.”

The Kwantlen Polytechnic University-organized festival aims to showcase films, filmmakers and film subjects “grappling with issues such as anti-oppression, anti-poverty, anti-racism, environmental stewardship, gender equality, and Indigenous rights and governance,” according to a news release announcing the festival lineup.

“’Seeking Truth. Waging Change’ refers to a general through-line between the films, whether they are outright exposés or more contemplative inner explorations,” explained Janice Morris, KDocsFF founder and festival director.

“At the heart of all of them is a journey to truth; we meet a lot of truth seekers and changemakers. From peace circles to weaponized surveillance, from the opioid crisis to food futures, from LGBTQ+ rights to Canadian foreign policy, KDocsFF 2022 asks hard questions about what counts as ‘truth’ and amplifies the oft-silenced voices of resistance.”

A 30-second trailer on YouTube highlights the festival’s 2022 films, which will be geo-blocked to Canada.

Ticket sales began Jan. 5 on, for $5 a film or $45 for a festival pass.

The fest kicks off with a double-feature showing of “The Gig Is Up,” directed by Shannon Walsh, and Abby Ginzberg’s “Waging Change,” which inspired this year’s festival title, as well as the short film “Ride Fair,” by Javier Lovera. On Feb. 19, the films and audience Q&A will explore the gig and hourly wage economies “and the increasing threats to labour, especially in a global pandemic.”

Panelists include Walsh and Ginzberg, along with Thorben Wieditz (co-founder of RideFair, a coalition seeking better regulation of ride-hailing platforms), Saru Jayaraman (founder and president of One Fair Wage, which campaigns for restaurant workers in the U.S. to receive the minimum wage) and Nikki MG Cole (former national policy director for One Fair Wage). Lovera will moderate.

“Right now,” Morris said, “we are in such a gig economy moment, exacerbated by a pandemic, and important questions are not being raised. Not only is this a matter of labour and labour rights but, more to the point, labour exploitation.”

(Story continues below trailer for “The Gig is Up”)

KDocsFF’s second special presentation, on Feb. 25, offers “Warrior Women,” directed by Christina King and Elizabeth Castle, and the short films “Lupita,” by Monica Wise Robles, and “Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again,” by Courtney Montour. Together, the films highlight “the power of Indigenous women resisters fighting for Indigenous rights in the face of colonial violence and oppression.”

Vicki Haynes, KPU Indigenous Studies instructor, will moderate a live Q&A, with panelists including “Warrior Women” film subjects Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert, plus Wise Robles and Lupita herself, Guadaupe Vázquez Luna, along with Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, who appears in “Mary Two Axe Earley.”

A festival-closing event Feb. 26 screens “Alice Street,” directed by Spencer Wilkinson, and the short film “Jean Swanson: We Need a New Map­,” by Teresa Alfeld. “Alice Street” showcases the use of public art to fight gentrification while the short film follows Swanson, a long-time anti-poverty and housing justice advocate and organizer, in her first term as a Vancouver city councillor.

KPU criminology instructor Michael Ma will moderate a live Q&A featuring Swanson, Wilkinson, the two subjects of “Alice Street” (political muralists Pancho Peskador and Desi Mundo) and Kwantlen First Nation mixed-media artist Brandon Gabriel.

Other KDocsFF films in February include “A Once and Future Peace” (a hybrid animated/live-action documentary exploring the past, present and future of Peacemaking Circles), “All Light, Everywhere” (an exploration of the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice), “Ascension” (China’s industrial supply chain), “Dead Boy” (drug overdose where unintentional deaths occur) and, among others, “In the Rumbling Belly of Motherland” (the daily hurdles faced by Afghan female reporters and media).

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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