Chasing Ice hot flick at Doc Fest
When the inaugural New West Doc Fest wrapped up last October organizers were excited about the audience response.
They collected more than 35 surveys and nobody ranked the festival lower than four out of five, and most ticked the 5-box. This year they've raised the bar on the films, thanks to a connection to the Toronto Film Festival, with the hopes of raising attendance.
"There were lots of challenges," said Andrew Murray, a festival organizer, of the 2011 edition. "There was a high degree of satisfaction with the quality of the event. Attendance for a first year event was OK, but we certainly need an uptick this year. We're pretty confident we're going to get that."
New Westminster Environmental Partners, along with the Green Ideas Network and Douglas College got together to create the festival. This year's New West Doc Fest will run Oct. 19-20 at the Laura Muir Theatre on the college's New Westminster campus.
"Documentaries for the last 20 years have been getting a lot more attention, they're running in first-run theatres, and people have been discovering documentaries are an entertaining way to spend an evening," said Murray.
This year, the Arts Council of New Westminster hooked up organizers with the Toronto Film Festival to acquire high-level films, and not just ones with an environmental bent.
"If you want to grow your audience numbers we feel you need to offer a more diverse group of films, and we think we've accomplished that," Murray said.
This year's marquee showing, however, is about the environment. Chasing Ice has recently been screened at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto as well as Tribecca in New York and Sundance in Utah. It has yet to be released for major distribution, said Murray.
It's about a National Geographic photographer who journeys to a remote part of Greenland to set up time-lapse cameras for the winter to demonstrate the rapid melting of the ice cap. When he returns the next year he finds the computer systems in the cameras have failed. So the next winter he makes the difficult trip all over again, even though he's suffering from a knee injury. This time they work.
"The photography is amazing. It's the story of one man's quest to prove climate change is very real, it's happening and the evidence he gathers provides the impetus to kick start action on it, especially in this country," Murray said.
Chasing Ice will be shown on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m., and will be followed by Simon Fraser University sustainable energy economist Mark Jaccard, a New Westminster resident, leading a discussion on climate change.
The feature films in the second day lineup start with The World Before Her (1 p.m.), which is about what 20 young women from India go through while competing for the Miss India contest, and the controversies surrounding it.
That's followed by White Water Black Gold (3 p.m.), which looks into the Alberta Tarsands. Filmmaker David Lavalee will be at the screening.
Indie Game – The Movie (5 p.m.), features video game developers in their pursuit of getting their product, which they have put in many hours, sweat and tears into, to market.
"It's very tense and emotional for them," said Murray.
The festival wraps with Big Boys Gone Bananas (7 p.m.) which documents "the incredible efforts" the Dole Corporation went to in order to suppress a previous documentary about the pesticide poisoning of farm workers, said Murray.
Speaking at the final screening will be Burnaby-Edmonds NDP MLA Raj Chouhan, former head of the Canadian Farmworkers Union.
Murray said for the last 10 months the festival has been doing a lot of networking within the college to increase its visibility, and also worked out a deal with the student union to provide free admission to Douglas students.
Passes for the festival, which also includes music, visual and performing arts, are $20. Individual showings cost $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. For more information: www.newwestdocfest.ca.