Documentary film festival for students focusses on...
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May 28, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Documentary film festival for students focusses on social justice issues

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason cgreason@stratfordgazette.com

SOCDOCS began five years ago as an effort to impress upon area high school students the importance of social justice issues (SOC) using documentary formats (DOCS).

Founder and veteran educator John Esposito said this year’s film festival was the biggest one yet, with 45 films submitted. Entrants from across Ontario gathered at the University of Waterloo Stratford campus on May 23 to hear the winners announced and to take in a series of film-related workshops and keynote speakers.

Best Feature went to a team of students from St. Paul secondary school in Mississauga. The film, produced as a collaborative project between the school’s Specialist High Skills Majors courses in Non Profit and Arts and Cultures, focussed on the efforts of Dr. Andrew Simone and his Canadian Food for Children organization.

Entitled EveryONE, the film advocates for the idea that one person can make a difference in the world. For their efforts, the students were awarded $250. The students plan to donate the money to Canadian Food for Children.

Stratford native Josh Green’s film, which focussed on teen depression, was named this year’s Best Short, and was awarded a $150 prize. The piece included examples of hand-drawn animation in a PSA-style format.

“Everyone has struggles. Everyone has to live with those struggles,” Green said, adding it’s often difficult for teens to address these issues due to feelings of awkwardness and isolation.

“People do terrible things when they’re in a bad place,” Green said, noting tragedy can often be prevented, but it means reaching out to those who need it most.

Environmental Disaster, by Alex Soto of Stratford, was named runner-up and received $100. Honourable mentions were given to Sam Mestern, also of Stratford and last year’s second-place winner, for his film, Little Boats, which also dealt with the topic of depression, as well as to Spencer Grubb of Wellesley for a film focussing on water conservation.

By day’s end, a great many important issues were discussed, while a new generation of documentarians rubbed elbows with industry professionals, learning practices to better their craft.

“Please be thankful for all the freedoms and the quality of life you enjoy,” Esposito pleaded in his closing address to attendees. “Not everyone in the world is able to enjoy the same.

“SOCDOCS’ mission statement is to spread the word of social justice,” he added. “You can do that with your films.”

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