The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) is launching a new Feminist Youth Ambassador program at their 28th annual Festival this October.

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Crosbie will be travelling with her family from Pasadena to St. John’s for the Festival’s glitzy Opening Night Gala. The Festival will be covering their travel and accommodations and providing them with Festival passes.

“I am so looking forward to seeing all of the films and meeting the amazing women behind them!” Crosbie said.

Earlier this year, Crosbie chose SJIWFF as the topic for her Heritage Fair school project. After scouring the Festival’s website she got in touch with Festival Director Jenn Brown. In her email, Crosbie described herself as a proud feminist and said she hoped to be able to attend the Festival someday.

Brown was excited by Crosbie’s enthusiasm, and immediately knew she had to find a way to get the young woman to SJIWFF28.

“To have that boldness and confidence, I don’t know if I would have done that at her age, and I found it really inspiring. I really admire that she reached out like that,” Brown said.

The Festival has been facilitating youth outreach programs in rural areas since its inception, but this is the first time it is bringing a youth into St. John’s for the Festival. Brown hopes to be able to continue the Youth Ambassador Program in years to come with focus on getting young people from small communities in Newfoundland and Labrador to the Festival, regardless of their financial means.

“It’s totally new, it’s a pilot, and in the future we’ll be looking for support and resources and ideas about how to make sure we can maintain it,” Brown said. “We’re going to look at how to make it so the young women involved really own the program and the communities they come from own it and benefit from it.”

On Opening Night, Crosbie will be attending an invite-only reception for local and visiting directors as well as featured guests of the Festival. Brown is thrilled to be able to include Crosbie in the event, where she’ll be celebrated as a community leader.

“She’ll have that special opening night experience and then also get to pick and choose what films she wants to see in the following days. Films from here and all around the world, films about a lot of different things, in many different styles,” Brown said.

Over the course of the past year, the Festival has been thinking about new ways to do community outreach and connect with young people. It’s important to Brown that the Festival creates an environment where a thriving, intergenerational community of feminist film lovers can come together.

“It’s really important to give well-earned credit to the young women who are standing behind feminist activism and might be looking at things differently than us. There’s a lot of ways mentorship can foster that while also giving young people a platform so we can learn from them too,” Brown said.