Social Justice Film Festival 2023 [Hybrid]

In-Person: Oct. 11–15
Virtual: Oct. 16–22

Please note: This page lists only programs that are screening in person at NWFF. There are several other venues for SJFF 2023, including Pacific Tower, University Heights, and the Internet! Read all about them on the festival’s official website.

Individual In-Person Tickets:

General Admission | $5 with optional additional donation

Individual Virtual Tickets:

General Admission | $5

Festival Passes:

In-Person Full Fest Pass | $100
In-Person Day Pass (Friday or Saturday) | $20
5-Ticket Bundle | $25
10-Ticket Bundle | $50


Through strategic partnerships with Pacific Northwest organizations working on issues of social justice, the Social Justice Film Festival features short and feature-length documentaries and narrative films related to social justice.

As a movement, social justice promotes a global culture where equality is achieved on all levels. This includes issues pertaining to incarceration, the environment and sustainability, oppression, race and racism, the arts, animal rights, alternative currency and lifestyles, corruption within the system, and so much more. The festival will showcase works that challenge society structures in the world on a local and global level.


⚠️ NWFF COVID-19 Policies ⚠️

NWFF patrons will be required to wear masks that cover both nose and mouth while in the building. Disposable masks are available at the door for those who need them. We are not currently checking vaccination cards. Recent variants of COVID-19 readily infect and spread between individuals regardless of vaccination status.

Read more about NWFF’s policies regarding cleaning, masks, and capacity limitations here.

Festival Locations

Oct. 11 | Opening Night! – Northwest Film Forum
Oct. 12 | Northwest Film Forum
Oct. 13 | University Heights
Oct. 14 | University Heights
Oct. 15 | Closing Day – Pacific Tower
Oct. 16–22 | Streaming Online

And where are those places?

Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

University Heights Center
5031 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

Pacific Tower
1200 12th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

The following programs take place at NWFF; visit SJFF's festival homepage for the full program!

Oct. 11

6:30pm | Opening Night: Beyond Walls Shorts Program


  • 6pm doors
  • 6:30pm opening remarks + introductions
  • 6:50pm film screening
  • 8:05pm panel discussion + Q&A

The Social Justice Film Festival opens at Northwest Film Forum, a nonprofit film and arts center that incites public dialogue and creative action through collective cinematic experiences.

Our featured event is Beyond Walls, a series of documentary films and panel discussion presentation that defines and amplifies what prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition means, while inspiring people to imagine and take action toward a world without policing. Beyond the goal of simply changing hearts and minds, these five short films show actions that can be taken to help create a world without police and prisons.

In partnership with Working Films.

What These Walls Won’t Hold
(Adamu Chan, US, 27 min)
The COVID-19 crisis inside California prisons has claimed the lives of over 200 incarcerated people and infected tens of thousands more. This film tracks the origins of COVID-19 inside the California state prison system and a newly formed coalition, led by currently and formerly incarcerated people, that brought forward an abolitionist framework to a life-or-death situation. What These Walls Won’t Hold explores how relationships, built on trust, shared liberatory struggle, and connections across broader abolitionist organizing work, can unfold into sites of resistance and radical change.

Defund the Police
(US, 4 min)
Our ideas about policing are shaped by our race, gender, class, and parents. The dominant culture, and mass media, sell us the image of “Officer Friendly.” But whose lived experience is that based on?

I’m Free Now You Are Free
(Ash Goh Hua, US, 15 min)
A short documentary about the reunion and repair between Mike Africa Jr. and his mother Debbie—a formerly incarcerated political prisoner of the MOVE. In 1978, Debbie, then 8 months pregnant, and many other MOVE family members were arrested after an attack by the Philadelphia Police Department; born in a prison cell, Mike Africa Jr. spent just three days with his mother before guards wrenched him away, and they spent the next 40 years struggling for freedom and each other. In 2018, Mike Africa Jr. successfully organized to have his parents released on parole. “I realized that I had never seen her feet before,” was a remark he made when he reflected on Debbie’s homecoming. This film meditates on Black family preservation as resistance against the brutal legacies of state-sanctioned family separation.

Practical Abolition
(Erik Ruin, US, 2 min)
Sending people armed with guns to respond to mental health crises and public nuisance complaints is dangerous. It is often counterproductive and sometimes fatal. But what could take the place of policing? And in response to an epidemic of homicide, what are ways that we can keep our communities safer? In collaboration with artist Erik Ruin, Amistad Law Project staked out a creative path in lifting alternatives to policing. This video highlights the need to mobilize emergency resources for communities hardest hit by gun violence. We need to harness our creative energies to imagine the policies and programs that can replace policing and make us safer. We need to harness our creativity to communicate those ideas too.

Calls From Home
(Sylvia Ryerson, US, 26 min)
In an intimate portrait of rural prison expansion, Calls from Home, documents WMMT-FM’s longstanding radio show that sends messages over the public airwaves to reach those incarcerated in Central Appalachia. For many, the show provides a lifeline to the world outside. Sharing the stories of the family and friends who call in, and those who listen in from prison, the film portrays the many forms of distance that rural prison building creates—and the ceaseless search to end this system of mass incarceration and family separation.

Discussion Participants:

  • Moderator: John Trafton, PhD
    Professor, Film and Media Studies, Seattle University
  • Adamu Chan
    Filmmaker, What These Walls Won’t Hold
  • Sylvia Ryerson
    Filmmaker, Calls From Home
  • Mara Henderson
    Impact Coordinator, Working Films
  • Jasmine Vail
    Communications Coordinator, Restorative Community Pathways
  • Tyiesha Rushing
    Community Navigator, Restorative Community Pathways

Oct. 12

3pm | Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence & I am Kānaka

Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence
(Ali Kazimi, Canada, 102 min)
Beyond Extinction traces Indigenous matriarchs who revive traditions and fight to save an ancient burial ground in Slocan Valley, British Columbia. Declared “extinct” by the Indian Act, the film documents their intimate living histories and their decades-long struggle for recognition.

I am Kānaka
(Genevieve Sulway, US & UK, 15 min)
Eight million American tourists visit Hawaii every year and from the outside, it may look like paradise, but few know it’s dark history. Today, only 5% speak the native Hawaiian language and 10% live in poverty. There is a real danger of losing customs and traditions forever. I am Kānaka gives a glimpse into ex-teacher Kaina Makua and his after-school education program on the island of Kauai in Hawai’i. Originally trained as a Teacher, Kaina became disillusioned with the conventional public education system, so he set up his non-profit organization Kumano I Ke Ala to support and teach Hawaiian language, sustainability, and life skills to disadvantaged local kids aged 5-20. Does Hawaii have a future? It will depend on people like Kaina.

Restoration Nation
(Charles Atkinson & Jeff Ostenson, US, 7 min)
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe keeps the health of natural resources in mind when approaching sustainable development projects that benefit both the tribe and the surrounding community.

6pm | On These Grounds & Case Notes

On These Grounds
(Garrett Zevgetis, US, 101 min)
A video goes viral, showing a white police officer in South Carolina pulling a Black teenager from her school desk and throwing her across the floor. Healer-Activist Vivian Anderson uproots her life to support the girl and dismantle the system behind the assault at Spring Valley, including facing the police officer. Adding context, geographer Janae Davis treks the surrounding swamps and encounters the homes of formerly enslaved people of African descent, connecting the past to the present. Against the backdrop of a racial reckoning and its deep historical roots, one incident illuminates how Black girls, with the support of organizers, are creating a more just and equitable future for themselves and our entire education system.

Case Notes
(Sebastian Rogers, US, 4 min)
Labeled at a young age by a system quick to write off people of color, Tony hopes to spare others the unnecessary obstacles he faced. An animated short about the power that narrative holds to oppress or liberate.

8:30pm | Sew to Say & Atomic Bamboozle

Sew to Say
(Rakel Aguirre, UK & Spain, 69 min)
Thalia is an artist and banner maker who, in the early ’80s, joined Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp to stand against nuclear weapons through non-violent action. 42 years ago, in the summer of 1981, a group of 36 women left their homes and marched from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, to Greenham Common near London to protest the American Cruise missiles that were going to be deployed in the UK as part of the Cold War response. In fear of nuclear war, the group decided to stay and started a peace camp to protest the storage of nuclear weapons at the base. The peace camp became women-only and soon transformed into a public space for women’s voices attracting thousands of women over two decades. Thalia, one of the original marchers and activists at the camp, shares the untold story of the longest feminist protest in British history and reflects on how collective action changed the lives of women and inspired several generations.

Atomic Bamboozle
(Jan Haaken, US, 46 min)
As political pressure mounts in the US to meet net zero carbon goals, the nuclear power industry makes its case for a nuclear “renaissance.” In place of the highly costly nuclear towers that have been shut down across many regions of the country, investors began in the early 21st century to promote small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs). Atomic Bamboozle follows anti-nuclear activists and attorneys from the Columbia River region as they draw lessons from the decades-long fight to shut down the Trojan Nuclear Power plant in Oregon and reflect on current promotional campaigns by the nuclear industry and the US Department of Energy. The film includes commentary by physicist and professor M. V. Ramana, a global leader and recognized scholar on nuclear power. He traces the history of nuclear power generation from the 1950s to the present and takes up the four main areas of concern and controversy: costs, accidents, waste, and proliferation.

Sunflower Field
(Polina Buchak, US & Ukraine, 2022, 5 min, in Ukrainian with English subtitles)
A young girl in Ukraine awaits a call from her father. The day turns into night, and she sinks into various dreamscapes from which she must find her way home.

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Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave,

Seattle, WA 98122

206 329 2629

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