The Canadian Labour International Film Festival (CLiFF) is celebrating its 10th anniversary in November with a continued recognition and celebration of films documenting labour and worker’s stories in conjunction with issues including inequality, exploitation, and migration.
CLiFF was founded in 2007 by labour and social activist Frank Saptel to amplify worker’s rights and those seeking justice for their conditions within the workplace, as well as bringing into discussion the notion of unpaid labour. The festival accepts submissions in any variety of film pertaining to labour or workers, thus, anything from animation shorts to documentaries have been submitted for selection.
In its first year, CLiFF had over 40 Canadian locations participating with numbers growing due to their “Festival-In-A-Box” (FIAB) format that allows for interested groups and individuals to host their own screenings with a pre-selected program of films and materials, which CLiFF mails out. Directed at labour allies and those concerned with social issues, CLiFF provides independent filmmakers with more exposure to Canadian and limited American audiences.
Currently, the six members of the festival’s board of directors are busy at work selecting the films for the upcoming festival, which takes place on November 23 and 24 at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto. Admission is free.
To help raise money for the cause, CLiFF is co-hosting a movie night fundraiser tonight, Wednesday, June 27, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Carlton Cinema, in collaboration with the Society of United Professionals’ (SUP) Pride & Solidarity Committee. The film, Pride (2014), is a comedy based on the true story of British LGBTQ activists that helped miners and their families during a strike in the 1980s. Admission is pay what you can.
CLiFF seeks to provide workers with examples of what is being done to change working conditions presently and other challenges faced.
“Work is what we do for such a large majority of our lives and such a fundamental aspect of many of our identities… we really wanted to create a festival that highlights worker’s personal stories and the labour movement of course is such a key role of improving worker’s conditions and celebrating victories of struggles that we won,” says Navjeet Sidhu, a CLiFF board member and organizer.
The fight is far from over and CLiFF provides a space for both young workers to reflect on the history of labour along with exposing the struggles of the present to establish justice for the working class.
“We’re constantly fighting back against austerity, neoliberal policies, anti-worker rights, and capturing those stories is really important to the movement. I think we [CLiFF] provide the venue and vehicle to get those stories out in our Toronto festival but also in our Festival-in-a-Box events where people can organize their own events in their community with just a projector and screen. We want people to come together and talk about the films they’ve seen so we can learn more about each other and grow as a movement,” adds Sidhu.
During the main festival, there are also four cash awards, including The Best-In-Festival Award based on audience votes, The Miguel Cifuentes Radical Change Award honouring a late board member of CLiFF, The Best Canadian Film, and a new 10thanniversary award to support emerging women, Indigenous, LGBTQ, and racialized filmmakers.
Come to the movie fundraiser and look out for more upcoming details on CLiFF’s 10th anniversary event as well as if a city near you will be hosting a CLiFF screening by following their Facebook page.
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