Wakefield, Quebec filmfest reels in top notch docs again

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by admin on February 3, 2011

Brenda and Robert Rooney are ready for WIFF's second go-around.

Brenda and Robert Rooney are ready for WIFF's second go-around.

Time for Wakefielders to roll out the red carpet and don their designer shoes. Well, not quite.

Though it lacks the glamour and paparazzi typical of huge international extravaganzas, the second annual Wakefield International Film Festival (WIFF) will bring award-winning documentaries to the village Feb. 6 to March 18. There will even be a few directors on the scene.

“In terms of film choices, it’s at the top,” said co-organizer Brenda Rooney of this year’s  cinematic lineup. “The choices are really stunning.”

Cafe Molo will play host to the screenings, among them two Oscar-nominated films -  Gasland and Waste Land – every Sunday.

The other films include: a Quebecois documentary, La reine malade (The Ailing Queen); an Ottawa-directed film, Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr; Cannes contender Nostalgia de la Luz; New Zealand-based This Way of Life; and the grand finale, Music from the Big House.

One wonders, how does fellow filmfest organizer Robert Rooney attract such top-notch documentary filmmakers.

“You should hear him talking to these people to convince them to send their films to this little town,” said Brenda Rooney, who also makes documentaries with Robert.

She says most documentary filmmakers want to spread the word on an issue.

“We haven’t been turned down,” she said.

Some of the directors will be present at the screenings, either in person or via Skype.

It will be part of the “enhancement” as Rooney calls it – something extra included in the screening such as a reception or a panel discussion. For example, La reine malade will include a panel discussion about the bee-keeping industry with Wakefield beekeeper Tijs Bellaar-Spruyt, director Pascal Sanchez and a few characters from the film.

The finale will constitute the biggest event – the screening of Music from the Big House, at the Black Sheep Inn. The film, about award-winning recording artist Rita Chiarelli, documents her travels to Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary, where she records with inmates serving life sentences for rape and murder.

Chiarelli will perform a live show after the screening.

Local sponsors include Charles IGA, Caisse Desjardins and Life Without Plastic. The Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa will take in Chiarelli while she’s in town.

Passes are available at Cafe Molo for $50. There are only 20 passes available for the 5 p.m. screenings and 25 for the 7:30 p.m. screenings.

Tickets for individual shows are available online at www.theatrewakefield.ca for $7.50. The finale will cost $20.