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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Recovered film opens festival

News: Stratford Beacon Herald

Sept. 22, 2010
A recently discovered colour film of the construction of the Festival Theatre and a documentary revealing less known aspects of the life of pianist extraordinaire Glenn Gould will kick off this year's DocFest Stratford.

DocFest artistic director Craig Thompson announced the third annual roster of films Monday, noting that the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is stepping up its involvement in the film festival.

A significant change this year is a change in venue.

Several screenings, including the opening films for the Oct. 14-17 festival, will be at the Tom Patterson Theatre. Stratford Central secondary school will be the other venue, leaving City Hall Auditorium out of the picture.

There's a municipal election on the way and there were space problems for some shows last year at city hall, Thompson explained. As well, having equipment already in place at the theatre makes things more manageable.

DocFest 2010 will be launched with the Festival Theatre construction film shot by Dr. William (Mac) Gilmore who was a radiologist here when the theatre was being built.

The "lost film" was recently discovered during a reorganizing of the Festival's archives under the direction of new archivist Francesca Marini.

The 30-minute reel was found by audiovisual archivist and international film historian Rick Schmidlin who was helping out with the reorganizing project.

Gilmore's daughter, Betsy Gilmore, later informed the archivists that her father had recorded audio complementary to the film.

That too has been located.

"We thought we had a silent film" said Schmidlin, who will be synchronizing the sound with the visual footage.

Opening night will be shared with Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, a film that includes interviews with Gould's friends and lovers.

It will be introduced by director Peter Raymont.

Four other screenings will he at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

The musical theme will continue at DocFest Friday with Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a film which explores the phenomenon behind what may be the world's largest cult band.

The other offering for the Friday is the National Film Board documentary Life with Murder by director and Emmy award winner John Kastner that tells the story of a mother and father from Chatham whose lives are ripped apart when their son is accused of murdering their daughter.

The filmmaker is scheduled to attend the screening of the film he produced over a 10-year period. The mother of the child who died is also expected to be present.

Academy Award winning director Brigitte Berman will be on hand at the theatre Oct. 16 to screen her documentary Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel about the founder of the Playboy empire.

"It's sure to be a sell out," said Thompson.

Paired with that is Last Train Home by the Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan.

Fan's project looks into the fractured lives of a migrant family caught up in a desperate annual migration of Chinese city workers back to their rural villages for holidays.

The daytime program on the Saturday and a full-day of screenings on Sunday will take place in the auditorium at Stratford Central.

"Last year was our make or break year and I think it proved there is lots of demand for these type of films," Thompson said.

The documentary film festival will again include a hands-on educational component.

No Boundaries is a two-day filmmaking workshop for high school students that's presented in association with Fanshawe College.

The wrap-up show for the festival will be a screening of A Life in Stages profiling the extraordinary career of Stratford Shakespeare Festival artistic director Des McAnuff.

Other documentaries in the line-up include: Winnebago Man, a cult documentary which reveals the story of Jack Rebney, an unlikely folk hero whose funny outbursts were caught on tape during the making of a Winnebago sales video in 1988.

Girls on Top is about the eight lovely and talented women in the Soulpepper Theatre production of Top Girls; The Big Wait documents the frustration of foreign- trained doctors in Ontario, a film that Thompson suggests has current relevance to the possible loss of emergency services at St. Marys Memorial Hospital.

Sweetgrass is described as a modern-day cowboy film which follows shepherds as they move their flocks of sheep up into Montana's breathtaking and dangerous mountains for summer pasture.

In a news conference yesterday, Thompson and the Stratford Festival's Marini gave every indication the DocFest connection with the theatre would continue.

The theatre has a storehouse of audiovisual material that tells the story of Stratford and of the Festival.

The theatre views the film festival as complementary to what it does, said Thompson.

"We think we will have many years of content for the film festival."

The full DocFest program is available at
Tickets go on sale next week and will be available in person at Anything Grows on St. Patrick St. and at Fanfare Books on Ontario St.

Tickets can also be purchased online at and are available at the door.

Opening night tickets are $20. General admission to all other screenings is $15.

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