Stories From Our Venues

A Video From Meaningful Movies Intern, Fernando Betancourt!

Our fabulous MMP intern, Fernando Betancourt, is an aspiring filmmaker who has a passion for the film industry. He has recently been accepted into the Seattle Film School and is looking forward to creating his own meaningful movies! Fernando has been MMP’s social media expert and he is also a co-leader at the Renton Library Meaningful Movies Venue.

Fernando has said that one of the reasons he loves being involved with the Meaningful Movies Project is that he has had the opportunity to connect directly with filmmakers, activists and organizers who are working on issues that he deeply cares about. Fernando is incredibly talented, hardworking and dedicated and we, at the Meaningful Movies Project, know he is destined for great things! We want to publicly thank Fernando for putting together the video (linked below) for our 2020 Awards Celebration week.

Fernando – we think you are wonderful! Thank you for everything you do to support peace and justice and Meaningful Movies

Click here to view the film.

And… A Message From One of Our Community Members

“Month after month, in local community spaces across Washington State and across the country, Meaningful Movies brings people together with no other agenda than to listen, share each other’s company and ideas, and, as our hearts may lead us, grow in our understanding and our sense of connection. Through the work of independent filmmakers, we hear real life stories told by people across the globe and locally. Speakers from local organizations often participate in the discussions that follow, connecting the national or global issues addressed in the film to what’s happening in our own communities. There’s always an action item to follow up for anyone who’s interested.

As a librarian and an activist – and as a person who struggles, as many of us do, with managing a sense of emotional and informational overload in this complicated world, I think a lot about the magic of stories in bringing people together and transforming confusion into connection and wholeness. Stories – in works of fiction, in documentaries, or wherever we find them – help us make sense of the world. In a world that can feel bewilderingly complex, they simplify, unify, and empower.

I participate with Mount Baker Meaningful Movies Project and have witnessed, as the Covid 19 emergency has closed in-person gatherings, how that local team pulled together to bring screenings and discussions online. This was a big undertaking that has positioned the organization for even greater future impact. Most recently, in early April, we viewed the film Activize, which details the experiences of people who surprised themselves by becoming activists. Then about 25 of us – including the film’s producer and director – joined in an online discussion.

All of us who… I think, share a yearning for peace and justice and healing for the natural world. Among our most pressing needs are building relationships and understanding across our many different cause-related communities, and connecting with our own sense of hope, possibility, and empowerment to bring our shared dreams of justice into reality. Meaningful Movies is a place to gather. It’s an accessible, welcoming, and empowering community where we can take a breath and connect with our neighbors – both local and global. Its gatherings, whether online or in person, support independent filmmakers, our local organizations, and all of us who take part.  Thank you for considering a contribution to us. And please join in with us some time.”

~Noemie Maxwell, Mt. Baker Meaningful Movies


An example of how we have pivoted to online events: Virtual Discussion of “Activized”

On Thursday, April 9th, Mt. Baker Meaningful Movies hosted a virtual discussion of the film Activized. The film is about seven ordinary Americans who, for the first time in their lives, have left their comfort zones and become involved in gun violence prevention, voting rights and immigrants’ rights. The director and producer Eric Stange and producer Marga Varea joined the discussion and talked about their experiences collecting the activists’ stories and making the film. The discussion served as a beautiful antidote to the disconnect many are feeling right now. We had 25 (?) participants join the meeting. One of the benefits of online events is that people from all over can join. We had folks join from Seattle, SeaTac, Tacoma, Spokane, and the filmmaker and producer from Boston, MA! It was a lovely night of talking about a powerful film and connecting with each other.

Meaningful Movies Project is partnering with Sky Pond Productions and the film Activized. They have offered the screenings rights for any Meaningful Movies venue that is interested. Contact for more information.

An example of an event from before the pandemic: Meaningful Movies Honors Japanese Americans Fighting For Justice for All

On November 15, 2019, Meaningful Movies in Kirkland screened “Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story.” During WWII, Fred Korematsu, at  age 22, defied government orders to live in an internment camp and challenged the federal policy of internment of Japanese Americans in court.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson attended and spoke about his recent accomplishments protecting the civil rights of Washingtonians. He spoke specifically about his opposition to several immigrant travel bans enacted by Presidential Executive Order. Attorney General Ferguson reminded the crowd of the lessons learned from brave Japanese Americans such as Fred Korematsu who resisted unjust internment during  World War II.

Members of the audience learned that the children of Japanese Americans who were interned continue to fight for the rights of our immigrant neighbors. In 2017 Jay Hirabayashi, Holly Yasui, and Karen Korematsu joined in an amicus brief by Seattle University’s Korematsu Center and several other legal advocacy groups.  According to Heidi Groover writing for The Stranger, “The center is named for camp Fred Korematsu, who along with  Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui, refused to follow government-imposed curfews or register at internment camps. All three became symbols of the movement against internment as they took their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld their convictions.” 

Attorney General Ferguson is currently working with State Senator Bob Hasegawa and State Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos to pass a state law that creating an annual day of remembrance on Jan. 30 to honor Japanese Americans who fought against Japanese Internment. These pioneering civil rights leaders left a legacy that stands for the enduring importance of fundamental human rights. 


On November 21, 2019, The Mt Baker Meaningful Movies Team presented their 2019 Mt Baker Social Justice Documentary of the Year Award to  “Never Give Up ” which  reveals  the story of Minoru Yasui, his family, and  his  resistance  to the unjust imprisonment of Japanese American families during World War 2. The Mt Baker leaders recognized this film  “because of its power and impact, the continued relevance of the topic, and the current activism of the filmmakers and other Japanese Americans”.

 “Never Give Up” was screened at Mt Baker venue on July 25, 2019. After the film, guest speakers, Stan Shikuma, Min’s brother, Homer Yasui, and niece Barbara Yasui led a conversation about the current injustice of our immigration system and the internment and separation of immigrant families. The filmmakers encouraged attendees to support the group, Tsuru for Solidarity, a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates who are working to end immigrant detention sites and to support front-line communities.  They say they stand on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered great injustices in U.S. concentration camps during WWII. 

 The  Mt Baker Meaningful Movies Team expressed gratitude to the Japanese American descendants who are speaking up and saying “Stop Repeating History”! The Yasui’s and other members of Tsuru ask that Meaningful Movies leaders, friends and attendees join them in a National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps on June 5-7, 2020.  You can learn more at