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Activists make cinema a civics lessonThe Conscientious Projector brings a political edge to the big screen.
"Film festivals traditionally tout the art of filmmaking.But Kitsap Citizen Action Network's first annual film and video festival, opening March 2 at two Bainbridge venues, promotes instant activism.We researched festivals nationwide, said Van Calvez, a film festival organizer. We didn't find another like this. It seems to be unique. At The Conscientious Projector: Films for the People and the Planet, filmgoers have the chance to process the powerful material they view, speaking with representatives of 20 local organizations, signing petitions, joining groups, forming talking circles - or expressing themselves creatively on an art wall. We want to help filmgoers increase their understanding of complex issues and provide them opportunities to respond with specific, positive actions, festival organizer Neva Welton said. The festival is the first major event organized by Kitsap-CAN. The organization grew out of discussions held in the aftermath of the World Trade Organization protests. We were local farmers and activists, energized by the WTO, Welton said. We wanted to continue community-building, to support each other in individual and collective action. According to Welton, the idea for the festival came to her and Calvez as they were tabling on genetically modified food issues at the farmers' market.We were sitting there among the vegetables, trying to think of creative ways to educate the public on issues, Welton said. I really don't know which one of us came up with the idea. Calvez and Welton - with others from Kitsap-CAN - have worked on the festival since September, jurying 50 films to find 25.The films will focus on globalization, ecology, and workers and human rights issues.There are segments of the festival that balance serious films with humor, particularly the Friday night and Saturday night films. Welton said Kitsap-CAN members are walking their talk by holding the film fest to a zero-waste policy. They will offer free van-pooling for Seattle movie-goers. They will also recycle and compost most waste generated by the festival. Any leftovers will be on display. Calvez, who is a human factors engineer using ergonomics to make things easier for people to use, sees an analogy between his work and the film fest. We are portraying hard realities, but we are also looking for creative ways to help people solve problems in our world, Calvez said. The movies are about tough issues, but we focus on positive ways to respond. They are truly inspiring.The festival is co-sponsored by a number of island organizations, including the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and Earth Stewards, among others. Kitsap-CAN's The Conscientious Projector: Films for the People and the Planet, runs 6 p.m. March 2 to 4:30 p.m. March 4 at the Historic Lynwood Theater and Bainbridge High School, LGI room. Call 842-9582 for information. "