Star Trek actor and LGBTQ+ activist George Takei will be a special guest as Metro Vancouver’s premier social justice film festival – KDocsFF – moves online in 2021.
The theme for KDocsFF is “Resistance. Freedom. Justice.” The Opening Night Special Presentation of And Then They Came for Us includes a live post-film Q&A/panel discussion with Takei, who features in the film that retells the story of the mass removal of the ethnic Japanese from the West Coast of the United States during the Second World War.
Author and storyteller, Diana Morita Cole, who was born a prisoner in an American concentration camp in 1944, will be the evening’s keynote speaker and will take part in the Q&A session with Takei, along with the film’s director, Abby Ginzberg, and Satsuki Ina, another of the film’s subjects.
Morita Cole, who lives in Nelson, B.C., speaks about the internment of Japanese Canadians and explains that many people living outside of B.C. know little of the Japanese Canadian experience, including the fact that they were deprived of their right to vote until 1949, well after the Second World War had ended.
“Nearly four thousand were deported, and those who were told to move ‘West of the Rockies’ had to live in chicken coops and abandoned silos in Alberta without potable water. Even fewer Americans and Canadians know that 2,200 Japanese Latin Americans were kidnapped by the US government to be used in prisoner of war exchanges.”
Morita Cole hopes the audience understands the similarities between the suffering of Japanese Americans and the suffering of others treated unfairly by the Canadian and American governments, including Indigenous peoples, asylum seekers, and refugees seeking a better life.
The festival’s second Special Presentation is Chão (Landless). This Brazilian film focuses on the Landless Workers’ Movement and its activism in fighting for land reform in Central Brazil.
“Chão (Landless) spotlights Brazilian agricultural workers who are dispossessed of and displaced from the land that they work, and the movement to change that injustice is both a micro-story in and of itself, on the ground in Brazil, and emblematic of a macro movement around the world. The current Indian farmers' protest, for example, shows how timely and relevant this issue is. At the heart of the issue is economic disparity and wealth inequity,” says festival director and Kwantlen Polytechnic University instructor Janice Morris.
This year will be the longest and largest festival yet with 15 films over 10 days. The festival has also moved online for the first time as a result of the pandemic.
“It is a logistical challenge to say the least, but I’m glad I made the decision to push forward with it,” says Morris. “There is a misperception that an online festival is much easier to execute, but in many ways, it’s so much more difficult, especially in terms of technology and coordinating speakers.”
That’s where KDocsFF festival partner, the Vancouver International Film Centre, comes in. They are managing the online streaming and the technical operations for KDocsFF.
“A virtual festival presents many opportunities. Unlike many festivals this past year, will showcase more films, over more days, and we now can watch from the comfort of our own homes, and this will hopefully allow more people to attend KDocsFF 2021,” adds Morris.
KDocsFF began in 2012 to create engagement and community dialogue through documentary films and documentary activism. Although the platform and presentation are different this year, the films will still provoke thought and be shown to an even wider audience for greater discussion and action.
Tickets are $5 per film for 48-hour access or $40 for an all-access festival pass, including all keynote addresses and Q&As.
Visit the festival website to learn more about KDocsFF and purchase tickets.