Last year, the Center for Biological Diversity's Population and Sustainability Program introduced the Food Justice Film Festival. Scroll down to watch the speaker panel interviews from last year to learn more about the films we featured, the organizers who tirelessly work towards a more just food system and why we created this Film Fest and why it's so important to the work we do at the Center.
Sanjay Rawal (Director)
Twila Cassadore (San Carlos Apache Tribal Activist)
Samuel Gensaw, III (Director of the Ancestral Guard)
Sanjay is the director of “Gather” and director and producer of award-winning filmslike “Food Chains,” “3100, Run and Become,” and “Challenging Impossibility.” “Food Chains” (executive produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser) chronicled the battle of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a small group of Oaxacan and Chiapan indigenous farmworkers in Florida, against the largest agribusiness conglomerates in the world. Sanjay is also the founder of a strategic advisory firm Illumine Group. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.
Twila is a San Carlos Apache tribal activist. She has been working tirelessly to restore native food sovereignty with the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache and Yavapai peoples for 25 years. Twila teaches younger generations about the ancient foodways she knows. Her work also includes conducting interviews with elders to bring information back into the community to address health and social problems. It emphasizes the importance of foods like grass seeds and acorn seeds to the diets of Apaches before people were moved onto reservations and became reliant on rations and later commodities. Find her on Instagram.
Sammy Gensaw is a Yurok native, director of the Ancestral Guard, artist, musician, mediator, activist, youth leader and fishermanfeatured in the film Gather. Sammy grew up on the Klamath River and resides at Terwer Riffle in the Glen at Klamath, CA on the Yurok reservation. The Ancestral Guard is a community organizing network developed to encourage an Indigenous mindset and engage people in ancestral territories to restore the natural balance between people and the environment. Find him on Instagram.
Jasmine Leyva (Director)
lauren Ornelas (Founder & Director, Food Empowerment Project)
Kat Lopez (Veggie Mijas, Activistas de la Tierra)
lauren is the founder and director of the Food Empowerment Project and is an activist based in the Bay Area. She was campaigns director for the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition from 2007-2013, gave a TedX talk about the power of food choices in 2013, and has appeared in films like “Invisible Vegan” and “Cowspiracy.”lauren campaigns against chocolate produced by labor of West African slavesand has written on the connections between women, animals and social justice. FEP has sister sites including VeganMexicanFood.com.
Kat is an organizer with Veggie Mijas (Activistas de la Tierra), a women of color/non-binary folx of color/femmes of color collective that highlights intersections of race, gender identity, class, and sexuality with environmental, food, health and animal justice. Kat is a first generation Xicana based in Austin, a birthworker and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. Food access and community knowledge drive her activism, along with wellness work. She strives to help open plant-based spaces for people of color, build safe community and exchange resources. Find her on Instagram.
Dolores Huerta (Legendary Activist)
Nezahualcoyotl Xiuhtecutli (Farmworker Association of Florida)
Alfonso Chavez (Food Justice Advocate)
Dolores is one of the most influential labor leader and civil rights activists of the 20th centuries and is featured in the documentary “Dolores.” With Cesar Chavez, she cofounded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in California and was the lead negotiator in the workers' contract that was created after the strike. Dolores has received numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers', immigrants' and women's rights, including the Eugene V. Debs Foundation Outstanding American Award, the United States Presidential Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first Latina inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame, in 1993. She is the originator of the phrase, "Sí, se puede." In California, April 10 is Dolores Huerta Day. Find her on Twitter.
Neza is a research coordinator with Farmworker Association of Florida. He is a researcher, organizer, farmworker advocate, archaeologist, anthropologist and activist and a graduate student at Tulane University, studying MesoAmerican archeology. A native of Mexico, he’s an energetic advocatefor farmworkers, even against some of the largest food companies in the world, and policiesthat have been failing workers. Find him on Twitter.
Fonz is an artist and a community warrior and food justice advocatebased in Tucson, Arizona. He was formerly an art crew coordinator with Flowers and Bullets, which links art, murals, and hip hop with sustainable food projects helping to feed the community in areas like Barrio Centro, which face a lack of healthy and accessible food options. Find him on Instagram.
Jacqui Patterson (NAACP Environmental & Climate Justice Program)
JoVonna Johnson-Cooke (Maitu Foods)
Eugene Cooke (Grow Where You Are)
Jacqui Patterson is the director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program. Since 2007 Patterson has served as coordinator and cofounder of Women of Color United. Jacqui Patterson has worked as a researcher, program manager, coordinator, advocate and activist for women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV and AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice. Patterson served as an outreach project associate for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and as a research coordinator for Johns Hopkins University. She also served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, West Indies. Her publications include “Climate Change is a Civil Rights Issue,” “And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership in the Movement Towards a Sustainable Planet” and a book chapter, “Equity in Disasters: Civil and Human Rights Challenges in the Context of Emergency Events” in Building Community Resilience Post-Disaster. Find her on Twitter.
JoVonna Johnson-Cooke is a vegan chef and food justice advocate working in Atlanta. She established MaituFoods in 2008 in response to the need for healthy lunch options at the local school. JoVonna also cofounded Grow Where You Are, an Atlanta-based growers’ collective, with her husband, Eugene Cooke. They work together on their five-acre wooded retreat, farm and indigenous Native African homestead called Awali. Check out MaituFoods on Instagram and Twitter.