Eight documentaries to see at the 2018 ReFrame Film Festival

14th annual film festival returns to downtown Peterborough with 65 documentaries from January 25 to 28

Tom Hanks in a scene from the award-winning documentary film "California Typewriter", an ode to the typewriter that opens the 2018 Reframe Film Festival. Typewriters will be set up at all venues during the festival so attendees can contribute to a community art project being created by Peterborough mixed-media artist Jeffrey Macklin. (Photo: American Buffalo Pictures)
Tom Hanks in a scene from the award-winning documentary film "California Typewriter", an ode to the typewriter that opens the 2018 Reframe Film Festival. Typewriters will be set up at all venues during the festival so attendees can contribute to a community art project being created by Peterborough mixed-media artist Jeffrey Macklin. (Photo: American Buffalo Pictures)

ReFrame, Peterborough’s acclaimed documentary film festival, returns for its 14th year from Thursday, January 25th to Sunday, January 28th. This year’s festival will screen 65 documentary films, including 11 by filmmakers from the Peterborough area and three Oscar-nominated films.

The films will be shown at four venues in downtown Peterborough: Galaxy Cinemas (320 Water Street), Market Hall Performing Arts Centre (140 Charlotte Street), Showplace Performance Centre (290 George Street North), and The Venue (290 George Street North).

In addition to the films, ReFrame is offering two filmmaker panels on Saturday, January 27th at The Venue: “Directors and Editors: The Magic of Documentary Storytelling” at 11:30 a.m. followed by “Indigenous, Impressive, Intimate: A Panel Discussion on Relationships Revitalized” at 12:30 p.m. There will also be art installations at Evans Contemporary (2 Bankers Common), Market Hall, and Showplace, as well as local food and drink vendors at the film venues.

Printed schedules of the 2018 ReFrame Film Festival are available at the GreenUP Store in Peterborough and Happenstance Books and Yarn in Lakefield, or visit reframefilmfestival.ca. (Graphic: ReFrame Film Festival)
Printed schedules of the 2018 ReFrame Film Festival are available at the GreenUP Store in Peterborough and Happenstance Books and Yarn in Lakefield, or visit reframefilmfestival.ca. (Graphic: ReFrame Film Festival)

Social events include “ReFrame Film Fête” on January 25th at 9:30 p.m. at Evans Contemporary (by invitation only), “Meet and Mingle” with live music by Chester Babcock on January 26th at 9:30 p.m. at Showplace Nexicom Studio, “Unscripted: Makers and Shakers” on January 27th at 6 p.m. at The Sapphire Room (137 Hunter Street West), and “Saturday Late Night” featuring live music by Pat Temple & the HiLo Players on January 27th at 9:30 p.m. at Brio Gusto (182 Charlotte Street).

Daytime passes for the festival are $30 for adults or $20 for students or or the un(der)waged, and are valid all weekend long for films before 7:30 p.m.

Tickets for evening feature films must be purchased separately for $10 with a daytime pass, or $15 without. Rush tickets may be purchased at the door, if available, for $10 for daytime films or $15 for evening features.

You can buy passes and tickets in advance online at the Reframe website (link below), or at Showplace during the festival.

For the complete schedule of films and events and to get your tickets, visit reframefilmfestival.ca. You can also pick up a printed schedule at the GreenUP Store (378 Aylmer St., Peterborough) or Happenstance Books and Yarn (44 Queen St., Lakefield).

With 65 films ranging from shorts to feature-length documentaries, there’s a lot to choose from at this year’s festival. Here are eight documentaries, including five with a local connection, we think you should be sure to check out:


California Typewriter – Thursday, January 25th at 7:30 p.m. at Galaxy Cinemas

Ken Alexander of California Typewriter, one of the one of the last typewriter repair shops in America and the namesake for the documentary profiling artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter. (Photo: California Typewriter)
Ken Alexander of California Typewriter, one of the one of the last typewriter repair shops in America and the namesake for the documentary profiling artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter. (Photo: California Typewriter)

The festival opens with California Typewriter, a 103-minute ode to the typewriter directed by Doug Nichol that took home the “Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking Directing” award from the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival.

The film is a documentary portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse, and features Tom Hanks, John Mayer, David McCullough, Sam Shepard, and others.

It delivers a thought-provoking meditation on the changing dynamic between humans and machines, and encourages us to consider our own relationship with technology, old and new, as the digital age’s emphasis on speed and convenience makes us question whether our machines are serving humans or vice versa.

The film also movingly documents the struggles of California Typewriter, one of the last repair shops in America dedicated to keeping the aging machines clicking, as well as Toronto antiquarian typewriter collector Martin Howard, who over 30 years has collected around 80 vintage typewriters built in the 1880s and 1890s — including the Caligraph 2 from 1881, the first typewriter to hit the market with a full keyboard.

The Caligraph 2 from 1881 was the first typewriter on the market with a full keyboard. Toronto antiquarian typewriter collector Martin Howard, who is one of the subjects of "California Typewriter" and has one in his collection, will be attending the screening. (Photo: Wikipedia)
The Caligraph 2 from 1881 was the first typewriter on the market with a full keyboard. Toronto antiquarian typewriter collector Martin Howard, who is one of the subjects of “California Typewriter” and has one in his collection, will be attending the screening. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Howard, whose antique typewriter collection is said to be the largest in Canada, will attend the screening.

As a tribute to the film, the festival is hosting a community art project called “ReFrame Types”. Manual typewriters will be available all ReFrame venues during the festival, where attendees can type their thoughts about the films, the festival, and what technology means in their life.

The typed sheets will be provided to Peterborough mixed-media artist Jeffrey Macklin, who will be at Market Hall working to create an “art-i-fact” from these messages (and maybe even parts of typewriters) — attendees can contribute to his work, and watch as his creation grows.

VIDEO: “California Typewriter” Trailer

 

ShapeMaker: The Sculptor Don Frost – Friday, January 26th at 3:50 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

Lakefield sculptor Don Frost  polishing one of his pieces from "ShapeMaker:  The Sculptor Don Frost". (Photo: Michael Morritt)
Lakefield sculptor Don Frost polishing one of his pieces from “ShapeMaker: The Sculptor Don Frost”. (Photo: Michael Morritt)

Peterborough filmmaker Michael Morritt and Mary L. Holley, who last collaborated on the 10-minute experimental film SHOW in 2016, have co-directed this 22-minute documentary that explores the work and philosophy of Lakefield sculptor Don Frost.

Frost is best known locally for his 1974 ‘Figures Dancing’ sculpture, a 14-foot-tall steel and fiberglass piece work in the courtyard of Peterborough Square in downtown Peterborough, and the 2010 ‘Resurrection Cross’ 24-foot scuplture outside the Catholic school board office on Lansdowne Street West.

In 1983, he created ‘Equinox’, a 50-foot sculpture inside the Michael Starr Building in Oshawa. In addition, his work graces private collections around the world, including four large sculptures purchased by the Saudi Arabian royal family.

Filmed on location over two years, ShapeMaker: The Sculptor Don Frost premiered in September 2016 at the Canada-China International Film Festival in Montreal where it was nominated for Best Cinematography.

VIDEO: “ShapeMaker: The Sculptor Don Frost” Trailer

 

Fix and Release – Friday, January 26th at 5 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

"Fix and Release" is a documentary about the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre in Peterborough. (Photo: Scott Dobson)
“Fix and Release” is a documentary about the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre in Peterborough. (Photo: Scott Dobson)

Directed and produced by Toronto’s Scott Dobson, the 16-minute documentary explores the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, a non-profit charity in Peterborough that operates a hospital for injured wild turtles.

Canada’s only freshwater turtle trauma centre fights to even the odds for survival that freshwater turtles face in a modern world. Most turtle species in Canada are endangered due to loss of habitat and collisions with cars and boats. Dr. Sue Carstairs leads a team of dedicated staff and volunteers as they develop their own groundbreaking approach to reptile medicine.

This visually beautiful film shows turtles in a way that few have seen before, highlighting their amazing ability to recover from catastrophic injury and hinting that these ancient creatures may be more complex than previously thought. Turtles are vital for healthy wetlands and every saved turtle makes a difference.

As Dr. Carstairs says, “We are saving the world one turtle at a time”.

The documentary won Best In Festival at the 2017 Yorkton Film Festival in Saskatchewan, Best Canadian Short at 2017 NorthWestFest in Alberta, and Best Documentary at the 2017 Scienema Film Festival in Australia.

VIDEO: “Fix and Release” Trailer

 

In From The Cold – Friday, January 26th at 5 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

"In From The Cold" explores how and why Rob Fortin, Susan Newman, John Hoffman, and Curtis Driedger (not pictured) launched the annual "In From The Cold" Christmas concert that has raised  $126,000 for the YES Shelter for Youth and Families since 2000. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW.com)
“In From The Cold” explores how and why Rob Fortin, Susan Newman, John Hoffman, and Curtis Driedger (not pictured) launched the annual “In From The Cold” Christmas concert that has raised $126,000 for the YES Shelter for Youth and Families since 2000. (Photo: Linda McIlwain / kawarthaNOW.com)

Peterborough filmmaker Rodney Fuentes created this 15-minute documentary profiling “In From The Cold”, the annual benefit concert for the YES Shelter for Youth and Families.

In From The Cold was launched in 2000 by John Hoffman, Susan Newman, Rob Fortin and Curtis Driedger, a group of accomplished Peterborough roots musicians who came together to establish a traditional Christmas concert that would be unlike any other.

The concert, which sells out Market Hall for two nights every year, not only celebrates the music of the season but is also an important fundraising event for the YES Shelter for Youth and Families. Since 2000, it has raised $126,000 for the shelter. The revenue generated from the concert has become an important source of income to support homeless youth and families in the Peterborough area.

The documentary explores how a group of Peterborough residents found a way to direct their passion while giving back to their community.

VIDEO: “In From The Cold” Teaser

 

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World – Friday, January 26th at 7:30 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

Fred Lincoln "Link" Wray, a Shawnee Native American, wrote the 1958 instrumental hit "Rumble", the first song to use distortion and feedback on the electric guitar and one which introduced the "power chord" to rock music. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Fred Lincoln “Link” Wray, a Shawnee Native American, wrote the 1958 instrumental hit “Rumble”, the first song to use distortion and feedback on the electric guitar and one which introduced the “power chord” to rock music. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Directed by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, this 102-minute documentary explores the role of Native Americans in popular music history.

The film is named after the 1958 instrumental hit “Rumble” by the late Fred Lincoln “Link” Wray, a Shawnee Native American, which was the first song to use distortion and feedback on the electric guitar. It also introduced and popularized the rock “power chord” — and was one of the very few instrumental singles to be banned from the radio for fear it would incite violence.

Father of the Delta Blues Charley Patton, influential jazz singer Mildred Bailey, metaphysical guitar wizard Jimi Hendrix, and folk heroine Buffy Sainte-Marie are among the many music greats who have Native American heritage and have made their distinctive mark on music history. For the most part, their Indian heritage was unknown.

The documentary explores how the Native American influence is an integral part of music history, despite attempts to ban, censor, and erase Indian culture in the United States. It uses playful re-creations and little-known stories, alongside concert footage, archives. and interviews. The stories of iconic Native musicians are told by some of America’s greatest music legends who knew them, played music with them, and were inspired by them: everyone from Buddy Guy, Quincy Jones, and Tony Bennett to Iggy Pop, Steven Tyler, and Stevie Van Zandt.

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World won the Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary at 2017 HotDocs, the Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the Best Music Documentary award at the 2017 Boulder International Festival, the Audience Choice Award award at the 2017 Biografilm Festival, Best Documentary at the 2017 Albuquerque Film and Music Festival, and the Audience Award at the 2017 Illuminate Film Festival.

VIDEO: “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World” Trailer

 

Lovesick – Saturday, January 27th at 4 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

"Lovesick" explores the cost of our love of cottages by exploring the threats facing Lovesick Lake near Burleigh Falls from shoreline and residential development. (Photo: Lauren Bridle)
“Lovesick” explores the cost of our love of cottages by exploring the threats facing Lovesick Lake near Burleigh Falls from shoreline and residential development. (Photo: Lauren Bridle)

Documentary filmmaker Lauren Bridle has been spending summers at her family’s cottage on Lovesick Lake near Burleigh Falls for the past 18 years. After watching the lake change over the years, with fluctuating water levels, invasive plants, and residential development, Bridle was inspired to create this 27-minute documentary.

Once a prosperous region used by Canada’s First Nations peoples for hunting and fishing, Lovesick Lake is now under threat by proposed vacation properties that will increase the population of one of the smallest lakes on the Trent-Severn Waterway by hundreds.

The film poses questions about the land that we all enjoy: What was here before us? How has the water and landscape changed? What are the effects of development? And, most importantly, at what cost do our beloved cottages come at?

Bridle’s thesis film for her Master of Fine Arts at Ryerson University, Lovesick premiered at the Toronto DocNow Festival in June 2017.

VIDEO: “Lovesick” Teaser

 

Shut Up And Say Something – Saturday, January 27th at 7:30 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

"Shut Up And Say Something" follows spoken word artist  Shane Koyczan on an emotional journey to reconnect with his long-estranged father. (Photo: Stranger Productions)
“Shut Up And Say Something” follows spoken word artist Shane Koyczan on an emotional journey to reconnect with his long-estranged father. (Photo: Stranger Productions)

Produced and directed by Melanie Wood, this 82-minute documentary explores the emotional journey of acclaimed spoken word artist Shane Koyczan as he reunites with the father he never knew.

Koyczan is most famous for the anti-bullying poem “To This Day” which has 22 million views on YouTube. His poignant and powerful poems tackle everything from bullying to body image but, behind his larger-than-life stage persona, is a private and awkward man (“I grew up friendless”).

Koyczan allows us to join him on a deeply personal and momentous journey to finally meet his long-estranged father after 39 years. The result is his most significant and most difficult poem yet: an ode to the parent he never, and yet always, had.

Shut Up And Say Something is a powerful and intimate look at how a master wordsmith mines the scars of his past for truth and acceptance — and the most important poem of his life.

The film won Most Popular Canadian Documentary at the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival.

After the screening, there will be a filmmaker question-and-answer session and panel discussion with special guests and spoken word performers Moe Clark and Charlie Petch.

VIDEO: “Shut Up And Say Something” Trailer

 

Birthmark – Sunday, January 28th at 2:30 p.m. at Showplace Performance Centre

In "Birthmark", Lester Alfonso explores his troubled relationship with his own birthmark and interviews other people about their birthmarks. (Photo courtesy of Lester Alfonso)
In “Birthmark”, Lester Alfonso explores his troubled relationship with his own birthmark and interviews other people about their birthmarks. (Photo courtesy of Lester Alfonso)

As a child growing up in the Philippines, Peterborough filmmaker Lester Alfonso was often blamed for his family’s misfortunes because of a Filipino superstition that a birthmark on the buttocks is bad luck.

After realizing as an adult that this cultural attitude was still influencing his self image, Alfonso was inspired to embark on a journey of healing through filmmaking. Birthmark makes its world premiere at the ReFrame Film Festival.

The film is a wry, sensitive, and candidly confessional exercise in creative anthropology.

By soliciting other mark-bearers to add their testimonies to his own, Alfonso documents his journey to find peace and forgiveness and to quiet the voice in his head.

“It’s not only about the marks we are born with, but the marks we imagine for ourselves.”

VIDEO: “Birthmark” Trailer

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