KDocsFF 2021 virtual opening night a ‘seamless’ success, festival to run until March 21

Festival director Janice Morris shares what she’s excited about for the rest of the 10-day event

Janice Morris, Founder/Director of KDocsFF. (submitted)

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s esteemed social justice film festival, KDocsFF, kicked off March 12 with And Then They Came for Us, a documentary about the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1942.

At 8:00 pm, film subjects George Takei and Satsuki Ina, director Abby Ginzberg, and Diana Morita Cole discussed the increased hate against Asian communities during the pandemic, what the festival’s tagline “Resistance. Freedom. Justice.” means to them, and answered audience questions.

“This is my first attempt at a virtual film festival. And, of course, as the planner, you’re always worried about all the things that can go wrong,” says Janice Morris, founder and festival director of KDocsFF.

“I thought it was pretty seamless.… I’m very pleased.”

In Ginzberg and Ken Schneider’s documentary, Japanese American activists talk about their own and their families’ experiences being held in camps without cause or legitimate charges for years. The film showcases these voices and the haunting, stunning photographs that were taken by different photographers during that time.

The documentary also connects this “profound violation of constitutional rights” to the Muslim registry and travel ban put in place by Donald Trump, writes the film’s description, and follows Japanese Americans speaking out against the policy.

The film festival’s main goal is to bring awareness and education about issues that people otherwise may not have known much about. Morris stresses that this is only a beginning step of making a real difference.

“Then action must follow.… It’s not easy to step outside the lines and stand up. And yet, here are these individuals [in the films] who have the most to lose, who are already in the crosshairs, and doing the heaviest lifting — and that has to change,” she says.

People who are not experiencing oppression firsthand, who are in these positions of privilege, should be working and fighting harder to bring attention to important issues, she says.

As for the rest of the festival, Morris says to keep an eye out for the inspirational radical young girls from We Are the Radical Monarchs, the discourse on disinformation in A Thousand Cuts and Influence, and the “environmentalism with a side of espionage” in Wood.

“[It is] a very different feeling than an in-person festival, which is just physically exhausting … Those four days are just non-stop. Fifteen hour days of not sitting down and running around with your head cut off,” says Morris.

“I’m actually thinking about going for a walk this afternoon before tonight’s event, which is just lunacy in a face-to-face festival. In a face-to-face festival, I’m lucky if I go to the bathroom in four days,” she laughs.

To watch any of the festival’s documentaries, tickets are available online for $5 per film or $40 for a festival pass.

Morris says to keep an eye on KDocsFF’s YouTube channel, where they plan to post the keynote and panel conversations for viewing.