Edmonton’s Justice 4 Reel film festival tackles many forms of inequity regarding Canadians
Edmonton’s social justice film festival, Justice 4 Reel, will be running for its second year next week, and it promises to touch on some sensitive topics.
Starting in August of last year by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, the Justice 4 Reel film fest aims to explore different social justice issues, human rights, and grassroots activism through mediums such as film while highlighting the talents of young aspiring filmmakers.
“This exciting artistic showcase will tackle important topics that affect young people in groundbreaking new ways and will positively impact our diverse community by creating opportunities for social change through artistic expression and community dialogue,” says David N.O., one of the festival organizers.
This year’s films cover topics like the staggering number of missing and murdered indigenous women, the proposed legalization of cannabis in Canada, and the stereotypic views of Arab immigrants, to name a few.
The film Warpaint, created by Jack Belhumeur, an Edmontonian filmmaker now residing in Thunder Bay, Ontario, deals with two boys’ artistic “war” to bring awareness to the population of missing and murdered indigenous women.
“Ultimately it’s about using art against injustice. So, using art as a weapon,” Belhumeur says. “The two boys in the film are artists and they use painting for healing as well as to get a message across in their community.”
Belhumeur, who stars as one of the boys in the film along with his cousin Austin Chimko, shot Warpaint in Edmonton during fall of last year. He then moved to Thunder Bay and edited the film.
“I don’t know if you know the situation in Thunder Bay, but there’s a lot of racial tension here in the districts,” Belhumeur says. “I was kind of forced to move here just to see what was going on.”
Belhumeur has also been personally affected by the situation surrounding missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. His niece, Serena Kentner, is the daughter of Barbara Kentner, a 34-year-old Anishinaabe woman who died after being struck by a trailer hitch thrown out of a moving car.
“It’s a big deal here. It really showed the horrific situation of racism here,” Belhumeur says. “I kind of channeled my anger towards the hate crimes here and used it as motivation to finish Warpaint.”
Blazing The Trail: A Cannabis Documentary is a film proposed to make its debut next year, but Justice 4 Reel viewers will get to view a sneak peek of the film’s early stages.
“We’re still in the process of making the documentary. The summer was the jumping off point for us,” co-creator Katherine Bessette says. “So the footage at Justice 4 Reel will be a glimpse of what we’ve been doing.”
The film will talk about what legalization of cannabis will mean for Canada from an industry, community, and political standpoint.
“We also want to break down the stereotypes and stigmas towards cannabis,” co-creator Katelin Popiel says.
Bessette and Popiel hope to release the film in June of next year, the proposed date of cannabis legalization.
“People want legalization. The people of Canada are ready and we want this film to empower people,” Bessette says. “Of course, the government’s date could get pushed back so we do have a film contingency plan for that.”
Wed., Aug. 23 (5:30 pm)
Justice 4 Reel
Art Gallery of Alberta (Ledcor Theatre)
Admission by donation