Wakefield, Quebec film fest full of wonderful, intelligent, fabulous films


by admin on March 2, 2011

The Editor,

The Wakefield International Film Festival (WIFF) is a jewel in the crown of local presentations! All of the films have been outstanding. How is it that each documentary brings greater awareness and understanding for struggles and social/environmental concerns yet still manages to be thoroughly engaging and entertaining? I did wonder how Brazilian “garbage pickers” in the largest dump and landfill in the world could be anything but depressing.

These movies have a “human” factor that is heartwarming. Family, social interaction, core values and compassion have leading roles in these seemingly diverse films. I have witnessed more human kindness and genuine concern for the planet, in spite of the backdrops of struggle, going against social norms and abject poverty. There is a richness of Life, a caring towards each other and sensitivity towards Nature that could be learned from.

When I asked who was responsible for the WIFF, people pointed out “the Rooneys.” I wanted to personally thank Brenda and Robert for the efforts they make to enable us to see such inspiring works. I had rarely viewed such elements of strength, commitment and empowerment.

A “trailer” short film, produced by Algonquin College film students is featured, showcasing local, new talent with careful attention to “matching” themes. Another great attraction is having either the filmmaker or affiliated person available to field questions, bringing to light little known aspects of the film.

What do these films have in common? What does a Quebec beekeeping family in La Reine Malade have in common with the garbage recyclers of Wasteland or the family in This Way of Life, which is not just a “hard-done-by” story about eking out a meagre living?

If you can look past the apparent poverty and struggle, there are different perspectives: questions concerning ownership of land or resources; the value of “money” and how it is earned; families, ancestral ties and a more traditional way of life; the notion of giving back to society and whether the environment can continue to be ignored in favor of industry.

When I left my judgments behind, I saw the sensitivity and compassion Vik Muniz displayed to create art with people considered to be “end of the line,” or how the film-maker in Gasland is determined to explore and expose “fracking,” a very real danger in the future of Quebec, contaminating water and land (a subject already in the foreground for the Wakefield and Chelsea area residents).

Having attended numerous repertoire theatres and presentations given by the Canadian Film Institute, I must say that this is a wonderful opportunity to experience some really profound film offerings and not merely another Sunday activity to combat the long, winter doldrums.

Olga Zuyderhoff

Chelsea, Quebec

Ed. note: See www.rooneyproductions.com for the writer’s full WIFF review.