Creating social change through documentary film

Tonight in Calgary, the Marda Loop Justice Film Festival is screening Bitter Seeds, a documentary film that highlights the plight of Indian farmers who are pressured to buy genetically modified cotton seeds each year. This creates a vicious circle of debt, dependence and even suicide — “An epidemic of farmer suicides, one every 30 minutes,” according to the film’s synopsis.

Bitter Seeds Trailer from Micha X. Peled on Vimeo.

Though the film focuses on global issues, Jenny Krabbe, the festival’s creator, says it’s meant to spring Calgarians into action in a local way.

“Our mandate is not just awareness,” Krabbe says. ”We encourage action through conversation by bringing in someone local who can speak to the issue.”

Ken Larsen, the guest speaker for Bitter Seeds, runs a commercial-scale farm in Alberta. As a longtime farm activist he will speak to the global, as well as local effects of farming policies.

This, says Krabbe, is one of the many things that makes the festival so unique. Specialists and professionals engage and take questions from audience members to further engage them and allow for change-making dialogue.

The event aims to harvest the intellect of Calgary’s skilled and aware population and leverage that to make change both at home and abroad.

Bitter Seeds plays at 7 p.m. at the River Park Church tonight (May 14). The event is free.

The Marda Loop Justice Film Film Festival screens films year-round, and holds its annual festival in November with a line-up of thought-provoking and action-driven documentary films that highlight global issues.

—Jodi Egan is a marketing and communications intern at United Way of Calgary and Area.