Does the phrase “social justice” make you roll your eyes? The Social Justice Film Festival is not the movie equivalent of the “safe space” so dear to the right-wing imagination. As social justice provides the only throughline, many of the movies have little in common. But the selection skews toward limber, on-the-ground filmmaking in the midst of protests and conflicts. This is true of Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine, directed by the American Academy Award-winner Mark Jonathan Harris and the Ukrainian Oles Sanin; The Dogs of Democracy filmed by Mary Zournazi in the midst of anti-austerity protesters and their attendant adorable street dogs; and Whose Streets? by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, which takes a camera crew amidst a group of people, the black community of Ferguson, who have been pushed too far and lost their fear. From Native American memory (Honor Riders) to marine ecology (A Whale of a Tale) to “intactivism” (American Circumcision), the festival refuses to lift one cause over all others as it declares the value of humans and animals. Gaining SJW brownie points is the least important reason to go.
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