A first look at some of the acclaimed documentaries coming to the 2023 ReFrame Film Festival

Exclusive opening night in-person screening takes place at Peterborough's Showplace Performance Centre, with full program for virtual festival to be released in early January

The 2023 ReFrame Film Festival opens on Thursday, January 26 with an exclusive in-person screening at Showplace Performance Centre in downtown Peterborough of the documentary "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," which follows the American photographer and activist Nan Goldin (pictured) and the downfall of the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty that was greatly responsible for the opioid epidemic's unfathomable death toll. Goldin became addicted to OxyContin soon after being prescribed the drug and her dependency lasted several years. (Photo supplied by ReFrame Film Festival)
The 2023 ReFrame Film Festival opens on Thursday, January 26 with an exclusive in-person screening at Showplace Performance Centre in downtown Peterborough of the documentary "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed," which follows the American photographer and activist Nan Goldin (pictured) and the downfall of the Sackler family, the pharmaceutical dynasty that was greatly responsible for the opioid epidemic's unfathomable death toll. Goldin became addicted to OxyContin soon after being prescribed the drug and her dependency lasted several years. (Photo supplied by ReFrame Film Festival)

Peterborough’s ReFrame Film Festival has announced a few highlights of the upcoming 19th annual documentary film festival, with tickets now available for the opening night event and exclusive screening at Showplace Performance Centre in downtown Peterborough on January 26.

More than 50 films will be screened during the virtual festival, which runs from Thursday, January 26th to Friday, February 3rd and is available to audiences across Canada. While the full program will be released in early January, organizers have shared a first look at some of the films, including one that’s exclusive to the opening night event — which, for the first time since 2020, will take place in person at Showplace.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, is an epic story about internationally renowned artist and activist Nan Goldin as told through her slideshows, intimate interviews, ground-breaking photography, and rare footage of her personal fight to hold the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, manufacturer of OxyContin, accountable for the overdose crisis.

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VIDEO: “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” trailer

Directed by filmmaker Laura Poitras (whose 2014 film Citizenfour about Edward Snowden won the Academy award for best documentary feature), All the Beauty and the Bloodshed interweaves Goldin’s past and present with the deeply personal and urgently political.

For Goldin, the crusade is deeply personal because she became addicted to OxyContin soon after being prescribed the drug. Her dependency lasted several years, and she narrowly escaped being one of the half million Americans who have died from opioid overdoses. It’s doubly personal because Purdue’s owners, the Sackler family, have long whitewashed their billions by donating to art museums — including those that collect Goldin’s work.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed will be screened exclusively at ReFrame’s in-person opening night event at Showplace — it will not be available as part of the virtual festival. The film has a content advisory for accident trauma, scenes of surgery, drug use, mature themes, sexual content, violence against women, nudity, and coarse language.

Opening night tickets are $20 or pay what you can, available at reframefilmfestival.ca, and are sold separately (they are not included in the purchase of a virtual festival pass). For the in-person screening, masks will be mandatory and will be available on-site.

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Canadian documentaries screening at the virtual festival include:

Eternal Spring – Jason Loftus (2022)

From director Jason Loftus, this Mandarin and English language animated documentary tells the story of members of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong who executed a bold and perilous plan to hack into the state broadcaster’s television signal, exposing government disinformation and repression levied against them. The film features the animation of Chinese illustrator Daxiong, who took part in the events of the film.

Eternal Spring, which won the top audience award for best Canadian feature and the audience award when it screened at the 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, has been selected as Canada’s best international feature film entry for the upcoming 95th Academy Awards.

VIDEO: “Eternal Spring” trailer

 

Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence – Ali Kazimi (2022)

Ali Kazimi’s film documents three decades of Indigenous struggle by the Sinixt people, whose traditional territories are in Southwest British Columbia and the USA, divided by the border. It weaves together observational footage, contemporary interviews, oral histories, survival stories told by matriarchs, and personal as well as public archives to tell a story never told before.

Through generations, the documentary traces how the Indian Act, colonialism, residential schools, and borders led the Canadian government to declare the Sinixt people “extinct.” Filmmaker Ali Kazimi’s journey began in 1995, when he was invited and granted intimate access to the community-building work of the autonomous Sinixt peoples. This film follows the journey of matriarchs Marilyn James (appointed the official spokesperson of the Sinixt in 1992, Eva Orr, and Alvina Lum and the communities supporting them over a 25-year period as they repatriated the remains of ancestors held in museums, fought against logging in their traditional territories, revived ceremonies, conveyed oral histories, and fought against erasure by the Canadian state.

VIDEO: “Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence” trailer

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Okay! (The ASD Band Film) – Mark Bone (2022)

Filmmaker Mark Bone profiles the Toronto-based ASD Band, whose four members are on the autism spectrum: piano prodigy Ron, lead singer Rawan, drummer Spenser, and guitarist Jackson. After their love of music brings them together to form a garage band and release a number of covers, they embark on the challenging journey of writing their first album of original music.

With the guidance of Maury, their musical director, the band’s garage sessions move to the recording studio, where each member shares their own compositions for the first time. Will they be able to complete the album and celebrate with their first-ever public show?

The film premiered at the 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, where it was named the second-place winner of the audience award.

VIDEO: “Okay! (The ASD Band Film)” trailer

 

Framing Agnes – Chase Joynt (2022)

The pseudonymous Agnes was a pioneering transgender woman who participated in an infamous gender health study conducted at UCLA in the 1960s. Her clever use of the study to gain access to gender-affirming healthcare led to her status as a fascinating and celebrated figure in trans history.

In this innovative cinematic exercise that blends fiction and nonfiction, director Chase Joynt uses Agnes’s story, along with others unearthed in long-shelved case files, to widen the frame through which trans history is viewed. Through a collaborative practice of reimagination, an all-star cast of trans performers, artists, and thinkers take on vividly rendered, impeccably vintage reenactments, bringing to life groundbreaking artifacts of trans history.

The film premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, where Joynt won both the audience award and the innovator prize in the NEXT program.

VIDEO: “Framing Agnes” trailer

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As well as these acclaimed Canadian films, the ReFrame Film Festival — as always — will shine the spotlight on local filmmakers.

Along with Fault Lines: People, Work, and the COVID-19 Pandemic, a film by Natasha Luckhardt and Rob Viscardis, the festival will screen Bob Romerein’s film Choices, which features the Peterborough group Old Men Dancing exploring life’s defining choices from the perspective of aging.

There’s also Our Glorious Bodies, a short film by Frankie Mcgee, which celebrates disability through poetry by joining one disabled voice with community-sourced images of, and by, disabled artists.

You can purchase opening night tickets, single and household virtual festival passes, and festival five-pack, eight-pack, or 10-pack of tickets (allowing you to stream five, eight, or 10 virtual films of your choice) at reframefilmfestival.ca.

Opening night tickets are $20 or pay what you can, a single pass is $100, a household pass is $120, a five-pack is $45, an eight-pack is $65, and a 10-pack is $80. Pay-what-you-can tickets for single films will be released in January.

 

kawarthaNOW is proud to be an official media partner and sponsor of the 2023 ReFrame Film Festival.