At age 22, Lindsey discovered she had breast cancer and endured a double mastectomy. Her boyfriend left her, and for four years she barely left her parents’ home. But the community she experienced in the canyon with other cancer survivors began an attitude change.

“Now I love my scars,” Lindsey said at one point in the film “To the Stranger Who Has Loved You,” part of yesterday’s APHA Film Festival session ‘Building Communities: Resiliency in the Face of Trauma.’ “It shows me that I survived.”

The film follows young adults with cancer and how a trek together helped them develop resilience. The cancer survivors signed up for True North Treks, which took them on a days-long guided adventure on a canyon river in the West. Participants talk of their loss of identity, body betrayal, confronting mortality and relationship problems.

Also part of yesterday’s Film Festival session, a film called “Gather” explored a movement among American Indians to reclaim food sovereignty.

The filmmakers visit White Mountain Nation, a food desert in Arizona, where they follow efforts of Apaches to grow their own food, prepare it in traditional ways and open Gozhoo Café, which serves traditional dishes. A woman spoke of the joy of collecting greens from the land for dishes, and how it has helped her come to terms with hardships.

“I learned to heal from harvesting our traditional food,” she said.

The low-caloric, highly nutritious meals are an alternative to the fattening meals consumed by many in the White Mountain Nation, where obesity is a health concern.

“Gather” filmmakers also spotlighted a young scientist of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation in South Dakota working to bring bison back to the area, and the efforts of the Yurok Tribe in northern California to retain their traditional food dish of salmon. Despite pushback from state wildlife officials, Yurok men continue to fish on the Klamath River.

“Town of Widows,” also shown yesterday, explores the chronic ailments and early deaths of many retired workers of a General Electric plant in Peterborough, Ontario. Studies associate the deaths with plant toxins, yet compensation to survivors has been slow and inconsistent. Former workers speak of toxins such as asbestos traveling through the plant’s ventilation system.

“It was a dirty job most of the time, but he had no idea it was making him sick,” a widow said of her deceased husband.

All Film Festival offerings, including those shown during “Building Communities,” are available on-demand now or in coming days.

The film festival continues today with session FFO2, featuring the virtual showing of “The Way Home,” a documentary series on people who are homeless in California. This afternoon, session FFO3 will feature screenings focused on people facing mental health challenges. Check out the full Film Festival schedule on the APHA 2021 online platform.