Local and global stories about water ‘a huge theme’ at this year’s ReFrame Film Festival

Festival creative director Amy Siegel highlights environmental documentaries screening during the virtual festival

Water is a recurring motif in many films featured in ReFrame 2021. "The River Guards" is a U.S. documentary about a Massachusetts community on the Housatonic River where activists have been fighting for three decades against pollution from a GE plant. ReFrame 2021 will host a discussion featuring those activists and Peterborough activists also fighting against GE pollution. (Photo courtesy of ReFrame)
Water is a recurring motif in many films featured in ReFrame 2021. "The River Guards" is a U.S. documentary about a Massachusetts community on the Housatonic River where activists have been fighting for three decades against pollution from a GE plant. ReFrame 2021 will host a discussion featuring those activists and Peterborough activists also fighting against GE pollution. (Photo courtesy of ReFrame)

From January 22 to 29, the first-ever virtual ReFrame Film Festival will connect the community when we need it most.

Tickets and passes can be purchased at reframefilmfestival.ca, where you’ll also find a helpful list of answers to frequently asked questions about the online-only format.

Whether you are a loyal participant in ReFrame, or a relative newcomer, I know you will miss the chance to connect with the ReFrame team, volunteers, and community members in person this year.

With that in mind, I’m going to hand the rest of this column off to Amy Siegel, creative director of the ReFrame Film Festival. I enjoyed the gift of a Zoom chat with Siegel, and I wish nothing more than to pass that gift on to you as directly as possible.

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“I am happy to offer ReFrame at the same time of year it has been for the past 17 years,” Siegel said. “ReFrame brightens up the depths of winter each year, and this year that matters even more. We are looking forward to the conversations and actions that result from watching these films together.

“I am pleasantly surprised by how the online festival can connect us even more directly than face to face. I hope people make the connection between art and activism in these films and all the online festival has to offer.

“Those are the two things — art and activism — that ReFrame brings together. Not only is Peterborough home to great artists who care a lot about their work, but these artists are also passionate activists who care about their community. I love these relationships.

“These relationships are one of the best things about Peterborough and ReFrame. Those people who connect their art and expertise with how much they care about their community — those people help create an artistic and activist community.”

Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Abbott's film, The Magnitude of All Things, explores parallels between personal and planetary loss. Abbott reflects on her grieving the death of her sister to cancer (here she scatters her sister's ashes) and the losses of climate change. (Photo courtesy of ReFrame Film Festival)
Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Abbott’s film, The Magnitude of All Things, explores parallels between personal and planetary loss. Abbott reflects on her grieving the death of her sister to cancer (here she scatters her sister’s ashes) and the losses of climate change. (Photo courtesy of ReFrame Film Festival)

“A huge theme at ReFrame this year is water — water stories from around the world and close to home,” Siegel said. “I think it is imperative that we continue talking about water right now. ”

“I was actively interested in generating more conversation about water issues locally. I am always so excited by the local film projects at ReFrame. They locate the festival in community and connect the big issues to the local issues. I am excited by how these connections have emerged in the program.

“The opening address to the festival this year will be by Drew Hayden Taylor,” says Siegel, referring to the award-winning Canadian playwright, author, columnist, and filmmaker. He is also originally a resident of Curve Lake First Nation, one of several First Nation communities across Canada without clean drinking water.”

The opening address for ReFrame 2021 will be given by Drew Hayden Taylor, an award-winning Canadian playwright, author, columnist, and filmmaker. He is also originally a resident of Curve Lake First Nation, one of several First Nation communities across Canada without clean drinking water. ReFrame will be screening Taylor's documentary "Cottagers and Indians", which examines the conflict between Indigenous people and local home owners over large-scale changes in the Trent-Severn Waterway.  (Photo courtesy of ReFrame)
The opening address for ReFrame 2021 will be given by Drew Hayden Taylor, an award-winning Canadian playwright, author, columnist, and filmmaker. He is also originally a resident of Curve Lake First Nation, one of several First Nation communities across Canada without clean drinking water. ReFrame will be screening Taylor’s documentary “Cottagers and Indians”, which examines the conflict between Indigenous people and local home owners over large-scale changes in the Trent-Severn Waterway. (Photo courtesy of ReFrame)

Siegel said Drew Hayden Taylor’s address will focus on the role of storytelling across different disciplines and media. His documentary Cottagers and Indians, which will screen during the festival, is based on the same topic as Taylor’s stage play by the same name.

In the documentary, Taylor examines issues of food sovereignty, property rights, racism, privilege, contract law, and Indigenous poverty in the conflict between Indigenous people and local home owners over large-scale changes in the Trent-Severn Waterway.

Siegel also provided details of some of the other local water-related films screening at this year’s festival.

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“The film Sing them Home is a collaboration between filmmaker Cara Mumford and dancer Jenn Cole. This film is a personal essay about the waterways in our area and incorporates the words of local Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

Rematriate: Passing the Seeds is a short film by Shelby Lisk, a filmmaker, artist, and writer from Kenhté:ke (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory). The film follows the creation of a wampum belt as a treaty between the nuns who have been holding these seeds and who then give the seeds back to the Kenhté:ke Seed Sanctuary. It succinctly shows what can happen when you take the time and care to properly respect relations.

“This year’s festival will feature a Sacred Water Teaching by Elder Dorothy Taylor (Gichitwaa Nibi – Sacred Water), and Elder Doug Williams is also featured in a short film (On Treaties with Elder Doug Williams) about how Indigenous people were prevented from buying land that is now privately owned.”

Local films are always a highlight at ReFrame. "Headwaters to Hearts", a short film by GreenUP, will tell the story of students and teachers from St. Anne's Catholic Elementary School as they transform their relationship with water and protect the local watershed. In this photo (from before the March 2020 lockdown), students learn from Elder Dorothy Taylor of the Curve Lake First Nation as she performs an Anishinaabe Water Ceremony. (Photo: Leif Einarson)
Local films are always a highlight at ReFrame. “Headwaters to Hearts”, a short film by GreenUP, will tell the story of students and teachers from St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School as they transform their relationship with water and protect the local watershed. In this photo (from before the March 2020 lockdown), students learn from Elder Dorothy Taylor of the Curve Lake First Nation as she performs an Anishinaabe Water Ceremony. (Photo: Leif Einarson)

“These local films are the things I’m really proud to present in ReFrame 2021,” Siegel said. “They connect global issues to local ones. The Sacred Water Teaching by Elder Dorothy Taylor was filmed as part of a GreenUP project. A film called Headwaters to Hearts: Education in Action, which will also be featured in the festival.”

“So many great people are doing amazing work to protect water in our community. I’m grateful that ReFrame can amplify those voices.

“ReFrame 2021 is also going to host an online trans-national dialogue by bringing together activists from Peterborough and other communities around the world.

The River Guards is a documentary from the USA about a community on the Housatonic River. Activists there have been fighting for three decades against pollution from a GE plant.”

VIDEO: “The River Guards” trailer

“Following the screening of The River Guards, ReFrame will host an online conversation between activists who will talk about their respective fights in Peterborough and the USA for access to clean water and all the ramifications of living in a town polluted by a GE plant,” Siegel adds.

“Several of the films at ReFrame this year explore that global-local connection by focusing on the big players, how they are staying in control of industries, and how that affects communities on the ground.

The New Corporation is a sequel to The Corporation, a 2003 exposé about how multinational corporations have taken over as unregulated global entities.

VIDEO: “The New Corporation” trailer

“The 2020 sequel looks at trends in rebranding and greenwashing that cover up underlying destructive and capitalist actions. This documentary asks how democracy plays into this.

“Because The New Corporation just came out this year, it ties in to the pandemic, the protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, and how dependent many people are on Amazon.”

The Story of Plastic traces not only how plastic is made but also how it has evolved within our society over time. The film does an excellent job of examining exactly how the plastic industry is inseparable from the fossil fuel industry.

VIDEO: “The Story of Plastic” trailer

The Magnitude of All Things is about climate grief. This film explores parallels between Abbott’s own experience of losing her sister to cancer and the grief of the entire planet as we live through climate breakdown. It is a heartbreaking and beautiful examination of grief.”

“The Magnitude of All Things is by Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Abbott, who is also one of the filmmakers behind The New Corporation.”

VIDEO: “The Magnitude of All Things” trailer

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The complete film guide for the 2021 ReFrame Film Festival is available online at my.reframefilmfestival.ca/films.

ReFrame films are geoblocked, meaning that you will need to be in Ontario to watch the films. Selected screenings include prerecorded filmmaker Q&As and extended discussions. A full schedule of events, including filmmaker Q&As, will be released on Monday, January 18th.

 

kawarthaNOW is proud to be a sponsor of the 2021 ReFrame Film Festival.

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GreenUP
For more than 20 years, GreenUP has been central and eastern Ontario's leading organization focused on issues of environmental education, sustainability, and stewardship. GreenUP is a non-profit charity and an active community organization that offers dozens of programs and services to those living in the Peterborough & Kawartha Lakes region of Ontario. GreenUP's programs focus on facilitating positive action and provide the tools to make small changes in the home or cottage that can create a large and lasting impact on our environment. You can follow GreenUP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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