Global documentaries play for audiences in Ottawa this weekend. Photo: Courtesy of One World Film Festival.
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One World Film Festival uses documentaries to showcase international problems

Spreading information about problems in a different part of the world can be difficult—especially when the information is too complex to be conveyed in a news clip. However, this is exactly what One World Film Festival aims to do.

The festival, which is in its 29th year in the city, features documentaries and discussion panels for Ottawa audiences to engage with. “We started the film (festival) because there wasn’t a festival dedicated to documentary in 1989,” explained co-founder and Board Treasurer, Sharon Goldhawk.

This year the festival is a three day event, running from Sept. 20 to 22, that offers a series of documentaries covering three themes—women’s voices for justice, neighbourhoods around the globe, and art for life.

“Seeing different documentaries from all over the world—that’s the great thing about the One World (Film) Festival, it’s not just local issues—it’s international,” explained Mukarram Ramadan, a U of O alumna, and volunteer coordinator for the event.

Thursday night’s showing began with three short documentaries about women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Kenya, followed by a film and discussion panel about peaceful protests led by women in the Gaza strip, and ending with a film about a Palestinian judge’s perspective on women, and the contemporary Islamic world.

“This festival is unique (because) it’s not just screenings—there’s panel discussion, (and) Q&A sessions afterwards,” said Ramadan. “For students, especially, there’s a way to network with other filmmakers, other arts organizations, and partners (that) are at the festival. It’s a great way to meet people.”

Indeed, during intermissions between films, attendees were welcomed to a lobby area where different humanitarian groups had booths to discuss how people could get involved. So, for students, the festival also provides a means to discuss the documentaries’ content.

“We (frequently) have discussions and groups to link people with an action plan for them … to choose what to do,” Goldhawk told the Fulcrum.

Thursday’s panel discussion featured a Q&A with one of the film’s producers who fielded questions about a wide range of topics—from updates about the current state of the women followed in the documentaries, to the producers’ opinions on whether the conflict in the Middle East will involve women in the future peace-building process.

Ramadan told the Fulcrum that helping out at the event was the perfect way to blend her interests. “I just wanted to gain experience … it combines all my interests (because) I love the social humanitarian causes and I like filmmaking, so it’s a bit of both (that got me interested).”

“This is the kind of film festival (for) people with a passion for the issues,” said Goldhawk. “This is the time to get involved—make a difference.”

The festival will be running on Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22. For more details and ticket information, check out their website.