The 10th Annual Wakefield Doc Fest

Wakefield Doc Fest (WDF) organizers are in a celebratory mood this year. It’s been 10 years since the debut festival, upstairs at Molos Café in Wakefield, a small room that could barely accommodate 40. All those years and fantastic films later, all those talkbacks and Q&As and panel discussions and, yes, parties later, here’s a stellar and extraordinary 10th anniversary lineup for all film and documentary buffs.

And this remarkable lineup celebrates many new voices. Fully five of the films are first feature-length films for their directors, and all have been recognized and awarded at Canadian and international film festivals. As always, there’s a selection of the very best current Québec, Canadian and international documentary films. There are also a couple of Canadian Premières: AMONG WOLVES and THE ANCIENT WOODS. The fest takes place February 2 – 24, 2019 at the Centre Wakefield La Pêche in beautiful downtown Wakefield. Tickets are available at wakefielddocfest.ca and at the door.

METAMORPHOSIS    panel discussion Feb 3

Velcrow Ripper & Nova Ami  (Canada, 2018) 85 min  English

Saturday February 2, 7:30pm (with Opening Gala party after) & Sunday February 3, 1pm

METAMORPHOSIS records a moment of profound change: the loss of one world, and the birth of another. Forest fires consume communities, species vanish, and entire ecosystems collapse. Economic growth, tied to speed of resource extraction, has created a machine with the capacity to destroy all life. But this is also a transformative opportunity. METAMORPHOSIS carves a path from the present to the future, offers a bold new vision, and provides some visually stunning artistry along the way. Architects design vertical forests, urban towers covered with trees that give new life. Swimming pools are repurposed into self-sustaining gardens. Installing solar panels in underserved neighbourhoods provides cleaner energy to families. There is hope!

THE ANCIENT WOODS     Canadian Premiere    ★talkback with filmmaker by Skype Feb 2★

Mindaugas Survila  (Lithuania/Estonia/Germany, 2018) 87 min

Saturday February 2, 4pm & Sunday February 3, 4pm

Filmed in one of the last patches of old growth forest in Lithuania, THE ANCIENT WOODS is a place where time melts and nothing withers nor ages but ‘grows into’ eternity. This poetic, mesmerizing and atypical nature film takes its viewers on an endless journey – from forest thickets to wolves’ caves and a black stork’s nest, then deep into water to the underwater forest, returning afterwards to the human inhabiting the woodland’s edge. No commentary, no narrative, no music, only deep, rich forest sounds and seemingly magical situations. The result? Almost a fantasy tale in wild wood, which gently erases the line separating human and other lives. Incredible sound and cinematography.

Premiered at IDFA; many awards for best documentary, best sound, and cinematography.

AMONG WOLVES       Canadian Premiere    talkback with filmmaker by Skype Feb 9 & 10

Shawn Convey  (USA/Germany/Bosnia & Herzegovina, 2017)  94 min  Croatian w English s.t.

Saturday February 9, 7:30pm & Sunday February 10, 1pm

AMONG WOLVES is an immersive, vérité doc about an exceptional motorcycle club in Bosnia Herzegovina. Since the brutal civil war, this gang, led by a multi-ethnic group of veterans, has increasingly done impressive and inspiring work to help themselves and those around them heal—including caring for and guarding the threatened herd of wild horses with which they identify. This ‘gang’ of horses make up the metaphorical heart of the film – and live in the hills of the former front line of the war. Awards at Chicago IFF, DOC LA, Anchorage IFF and others.

★★★★ (out of 4) “Not your garden-variety documentary… blooms into a revelation of character and depth of emotion that are completely unexpected.” – Winston-Salem Journal

ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS   panel discussion Feb 10

Gabrielle Brady  (Australia/Germany/UK, 2018)  94 min  English; Farsi, French, Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese w English s.t.

Saturday February 9, 4pm & Sunday February 10, 4pm

An atmospheric and mysterious film, ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS simultaneously presents three situations on the Australian territory of Christmas Island: The extraordinary migration of millions of crabs; Poh Lin Lee’s life as a ‘trauma therapist,’ serving inmates at the hidden prison camp at the centre of the island which houses asylum seekers sent there by the Australian government; and, all the while, local islanders carry out their ‘hungry ghost’ rituals for people who have died on the island without a burial. In therapy sessions, as Lee listens to growing despair in those she counsels, creeping dystopia enters her own life.

“Poetic profile of the forgotten asylum seekers detained on Christmas Island… (with a)… lyrical approach, the film … gently reveals the absurd cruelty at the heart of much of human behaviour.” Screen Daily

Numerous awards, including Best Documentary, Tribeca; Human Rights Award, IDFA.

YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN  talkback with filmmaker by Skype(not confirmed)

Pietra Brettkelly  (New Zealand, 2018) 97 min  English; French & Mandarin w English s.t.

Saturday February 16, 7:30pm & Sunday February 17, 1pm

No matter what you think of high fashion, this is a terrific story. The diminutive and daring designer Guo Pei, a woman who learned her craft at the Number 2 Light Industrial School after the reign of Mao Tse Tung, now launches internationally in Paris. Her aim: to be invited into the most exclusive club in the world – that of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Givenchy, Lagerfeld, Chanel: twenty one members, mostly men, European. YELLOW IS FORBIDDEN reveals Guo Pei’s inspired magic; her creations and her drive are extraordinary. An engaging, modern-day Cinderella story. New Zealand’s Oscar entry.

“Compelling and stimulating… finds just the right sweet spot between pie-eyed flattery and sober appraisal” Hollywood Reporter

Here’s the story of the extraordinary yellow dress that started it all.

BECOMING WHO I WAS

Moon Chang-Yong & Jin Jeon (South Korea, 2018) 94 min  Ladhaki, Tibetan, Hindi w Eng s.t.

Saturday February 16, 4pm & Sunday February 17, 4pm

In northern India’s sparsely populated and mountainous Ladakh region, an impoverished young boy is discovered to be the reincarnation of an esteemed, high-ranking Tibetan monk. Born displaced from his monastery, the boy must wait for devotees to come and fetch him. Amid growing doubts and expectations in their community, the boy and his elderly godfather embark on a gruelling, improbable trek to return the young monk to his rightful monastery before it’s too late. Stirring, awe-inspiring and serene, but there is also great lightness and playfulness here – a remarkable, warm story of love and duty. It’s also incredibly beautiful.

Winner of numerous awards, including a Best Feature Film award at Berlinale.

SEA OF LIFE    talkback with filmmaker Feb 23 & 24 in person

Julia Barnes  (Canada, 2018)  88 min  English

Saturday February 23, 7:30pm & Sunday February 24, 1pm

Filmmaker Barnes was 16 when she saw the late Rob Stewart’s film, REVOLUTION, in 2013. She learned for the first time that the world’s coral reefs, rainforests and fisheries are expected to disappear within her lifetime. As she says, “Action became a necessity.” She bought a couple of cameras, learned to dive, and set out on a mission to expose the biggest threats facing the ocean. Filmed over three years in seven countries, SEA OF LIFE dives into some of the most spectacular ecosystems on the planet, exposing both the destruction in the ocean and the efforts underway to stop it. New hope from an important new voice.

A DELICATE BALANCE   talkback with filmmaker Feb 23 in person(not confirmed)

Christine Chevarie-Lessard  (Canada (Québec), 2018)  76 min;  French w English s.t.

Saturday February 23, 4pm & Sunday February 24, 4pm

They may be ambitious, determined perfectionists, but the remarkable kids in A DELICATE BALANCE are also incredibly endearing, and not the least bit averse to laughing at themselves. These adrenalin-fuelled 10-, 12-, and 14-year-olds are already striving to attain the highest performance standards in ballet. Filmed from the perspective of four students in École supérieure de ballet du Québec, A DELICATE BALANCE takes an introspective look at lives of young people on the cusp of adolescence—that critical time in one’s life when childhood fantasies begin to collide with realities of being an adult: a mirror for anyone, old or young.

Tickets for films in Wakefield Doc Fest’s 10th Annual fest are $15 (inc tax). Weekend passes which admit a person to each of the two films offered in a weekend and include a coupon for 10% discount at participating restaurants are $25 (inc tax). Festival passes are $100. WDF takes place at the Centre Wakefield La Pêche, 38, chemin de la vallée de Wakefield, Wakefield. More information and tickets available online at wakefielddocfest.ca.

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