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Chicago Int’l Social Change Film Fest Oct. 5 – 7

Thu, Sep 27, 2012

Co-founder/Co-director of CISCFF Todd Belcore [left] and President of the StreetWise Young Professionals Board Laura Lord

Social change is only possible if people are aware and interested in pursuing it. Co-founders of the Chicago International Social Change Film Festival (CISCFF), Todd Belcore and Emile Cambry, are both aware and interested, and they are doing what they can to make others aware and interested, too. Then, they believe, social change will happen.

CISCFF will make its debut October 5-7 at Showcase Icon Theatre (150 W. Roosevelt Road). The 48-hour festival is built on the creative medium of film, but it will also include a fashion show, art show and live music. Belcore and Cambry envision more of a cultural movement than a film festival, all for the sake of raising public awareness of social injustices all around the world.

“No social change movements really work without the cultural element,” Belcore said. He cited the civil rights movement of the 1960s as a prime example. Without the music, the art and the fashion, the movement wouldn’t have pervaded American culture and made social change popular.

This year’s festival will be the first of what Belcore and Cambry hope will become an annual event. Although they haven’t put on a festival for social change before, both Belcore and Cambry work for social change in their everyday lives. Belcore is an attorney who focuses on helping individuals with criminal records obtain jobs and housing. Cambry works with the 21st Century Youth Project, a program that teaches Chicago high school students entrepreneurial skills and helps them use the technological skills they already have in business.

Belcore and Cambry chose film as the main medium to spread their message of social change in part because film is popular and easy to relate to. “Film is the most efficient way to allow people to envision the struggles of others,” Belcore said.

The festival will showcase films from around the world, exposing the different kinds of struggles of different people. Some of the films submitted came from places such as Iran, Poland, Spain, Italy, France and the U.S. In addition to nationality, the filmmakers are diverse in age and experience. Some are filmmakers by profession, others are students or community organization members who just want to further their cause.

CISCFF has partnered with several community organizations, including StreetWise, to promote their causes and unite them in a single film festival. Other organizations include Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Goodwill and Safer Foundation.

The festival will also feature speakers on social justice issues. Speakers include Gordon Quinn, artistic director and co-founder of Kartemquin Films, who has made been making documentaries for more than 45 years; Qasim Basir, writer and director of the film MOOZ-lum; and Rachel Cook, director of The Microlending Film Project, which will be shown at the festival.

Between the films, lectures, art gallery, fashion show and music, CISCFF is providing a well-rounded platform for social change. Belcore is hoping the festival will give voice to the community organizations that have been working toward social change long before the festival, as well as motivate newcomers to do what they can to further the cause.

“There’s a lot of little things people can do on a daily basis to make a change,” Belcore said. “This festival is a lot of little things.”

Colleen Connolly, StreetWise Intern

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