Activism & Documentary Cinema Panel Discussion


Moderated by RANDALL KING, Winnipeg Free Press.

Leading up to GFF 2020, the world saw some of the most sustained mass protests of the modern era. What is documentary cinema’s role during this time? Can non-fiction filmmaking truly be a force for change, and what does journalism look like in the era of COVID-19. In the turbulent times we find ourselves in documentary film can be a lens to both explore and amplify activism. By bearing witness to struggle, documentaries help sow the seeds for change. In the ACTIVISM & DOCUMENTARY CINEMA panel discussion, we will look at past and present documentary films that have been featured at GFF that include a strong focus on activism.  Join us for a conversation about this and so much more with Sam Soko (Softie), Brett Story (The Hottest August) and more!

BRETT STORY, Panelist, Director of The Hottest Augustbrett 2020 headshot

Brett Story is a filmmaker and writer based in Toronto. Her films have screened internationally at festivals such as CPH-DOX, the Viennale, SXSW, True/False, and Sheffield Doc/Fest. Her 2016 feature documentary, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Hot Docs Documentary Festival and was a nominee for Best Feature Documentary at the Canadian Screen Awards. Brett is the author of the book, Prison Land: Mapping Carceral Power across Neoliberal America, and co-editor of the book, Digital Life in the Global City. Brett has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Sundance Documentary Institute and was named one of Variety’s 10 Documentary Filmmakers to Watch in 2019. She is an assistant professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University, and her most recent award-winning feature documentary, The Hottest August, continues to screen around the world.

SAM SOKO, Panelist, Director of Softie

Sam Soko is a film director and producer based in Nairobi who seeks out stories that enable him to engage in socio-political spaces. His work on civic literacy projects in music, non-fiction and fiction has allowed him to connect with artists around the world. He is co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that service produced the 2018 Oscar nominated short fiction film “Watu Wote”. Soko’s first documentary feature film SOFTIE premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020.

ERIKA MACPHERSON, Panelist, Director of 6 Tons of Steel: Building Bloody Saturday

Erika MacPherson makes films at the intersection of social and environmental justice, resilience and kindness. Her recent work includes following ironworkers building the monument to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike for the CBC doc, 6 Tons of Steel: Building Bloody Saturday (2019, director/cowriter, Prairie Boys Productions); editing, Freedom Road with the community of Shoal Lake 40, Treaty 3 (2019, National Film Board); going on a genealogical goose chase through the Canadian prairies to the remote Icelandic highland to untangle her settler roots in, Heimþrá (In Thrall to Home) (2018); accompanying Drag the Red volunteers for, this river which won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for best short documentary (2017, codirector/cowriter/editor, National Film Board). Erika currently works as a filmmaker for the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg, helping make local sense of the global issue of climate crisis. She lives and gardens in the territories of Treaties 1 and 2.