Depolarizing Cinema for a Polarized World

After two years of COVID delays, venue changes, and numerous other transitions, the Common Good International Film Festival is proud to return to Claremont for its 22nd year! Since 2001, CGIFF has celebrated challenging, eye-opening cinema from around the globe that looks to make the world a better place. These films have helped foster important conversations about the nature and value of the common good—a concept that has continued to grow in importance since CGIFF’s inception. Twenty-two years on, we continue to make those conversations more enlightening, inspiring, and life-affirming than ever before.

For our upcoming 2023 festival, we have decided to take on a specific theme: Depolarizing cinema for a polarized world. The last few years have seen our planet rocked with violent international conflicts, a debilitating global pandemic, and an ever-worsening climate crisis. To top it all off, media outlets and political factions are more divided than ever, making it hard to figure out where the problems themselves even come from. It often feels impossible to find goodness in a world where hostility and hatred receive the most clicks, where people are trying to destroy rather than to build.

From February 17-20, CGIFF is offering the chance to rediscover the goodness that persists within us all. We will be screening a handpicked selection of high-quality feature and short films, each of which celebrates human kindness, decency, and dignity. Such films are not always easy. In order to look towards a better future, we must tackle global issues head-on, and the cinema that explores them should be honest about their severity. Our curatorial vision looks for films that take a clear-eyed view of political, social, and environmental issues, and that cultivate a realistic hope of positive transformation.

We must now more than ever look towards visions of unity rather than separation. We must bring depolarizing cinema to our ever-more polarized world. This is the mission of the Common Good: to find those essential sources of common humanity and cooperation, and to use them to foster a better future. 

Jim Fahey is an emerging film critic and curator who works as CGIFF’s Assistant Director. He has spent the past year building his resumé at the University of Edinburgh, where he completed a Master’s program in Film, Exhibition & Curation. During that time he served as a film critic for The Student, the longest-running student newspaper in the UK, and also began Airplane Mode, a film-review blog currently available on Substack.