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OttawaStart.com - Money, Power and the Road Less Taken - Wakefield International Film Festival Hits all the Right Notes, Feb 19 - Apr 1 by Melanie

February 8, 2012

(Wakefield, QC) Organizers of the Wakefield International Film Festival (WIFF) are pleased to announce yet another stellar program of the best in current documentary film. Beginning Sunday, February 19th and playing every Sunday until the finale on April 1st, the Festival offers its patrons current feature documentaries of the highest order – this year in the brand new Great Hall at the Wakefield LaPêche Community Centre.

Perhaps more than any other narrative form, the documentary film reflects the world and its concerns. This is starkly evident in the WIFF 2012 program selection chosen by Artistic Director Robert Rooney. In these strange times of increasingly disparate factions, as we humans struggle to find footing and justice - economically, politically and environmentally - doc makers sift through and reveal what we're facing.

From the power games of Putin's Russia to the bald-faced aggression of Donald Trump’s extreme wealth; from the battle to get an electric car on the road to Margaret Atwood's examination of systems of wealth, justice and reparation, the films in the 2012 WIFF lineup are a brilliant mirror of where we are today. Also included in the lineup, appropriately, is the life story of a man who has always acted according to his conscience, Harry Belafonte, and two stories of artists living on the road less taken – always a vital role.

As in the past, WIFF organizers are dedicated to enriching the filmgoing experience by providing 'value-added' programming in the form of talks with filmmakers, panel discussions, and the like. Some of this programming is still being confirmed, but a number of events are already in place.

Here is the lineup in brief:

February 19 - Carnets d’un grand détour (Notes on a Road Less Taken) (Canada, 2011) French & English w English Subtitles; Director - Catherine Hébert

With a book-laden donkey, Marc Roger walks from St. Malo in Brittany to Bamako, Mali, giving public readings along the way. Every day, thousands of Africans trek northward seeking a better life, as Roger heads south. Québec filmmaker Catherine Hébert accompanies him, creating a deeply personal portrait of this part of Africa and its people. An engrossing chronicle of an extraordinary adventure.

extra added attraction: Director Catherine Hébert will join WIFF after the screening via Skype for a Q & A.

February 26 - Putin’s Kiss (Denmark, 2011) Russian w English subtitles; Director - Lise Birk Pedersen

Screening at WIFF just the week before the Russian elections (with Vladimir Putin running yet again for President) Putin's Kiss tells the story of Masha, an ambitious teenager once seduced by the energy of the Putin-supportive Russian youth organization, Nashi. She becomes the protégé of Russia's Minister of Youth and debates opponents on television, but starts to doubt her path when “unknown perpetrators” attack Oleg Khashin, a journalist with questions about Putin and his regime.

extra added attraction:

Panel Discussion - Associate Professor Jeff Sahadeo from Carleton University's Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (EURUS) chairs a discussion with members of the Institute.

March 4 – Sing Your Song (USA, 2011)  English; Director – Susanne Rostock

Sing Your Song charts the rich life of Harry Belafonte, one of the truly heroic (and humble) cultural and political figures of the past 60 years. From his discovery of the magic of performing, through his emergence as a star and his development as champion for worldwide human rights; from the jazz and folk clubs of Harlem and Greenwich Village to Mississippi to Africa and South Central Los Angeles, Sing Your Song takes us through Belafonte’s life, work and, most of all, reveals his inspirational conscience.

March 11 – You Have Been Trumped (UK, 2011) English; Director – Anthony Baxter

Billionaire Donald Trump has bought up hundreds of acres of an environmentally sensitive coastline in NE Scotland to build the world’s greatest golf course. Opposing him, a handful of local residents who refuse to sell. It begins as an amusing clash of world views but grows increasingly bitter and disturbing – including the arrest of director Baxter and his producer, Richard Phinney. For the tycoon, a possible billion dollar payoff; for the locals, the destruction of a unique landscape – the milieu of their lives.

extra added attraction:  Producer Richard Phinney will attend for a post-screening discussion.

March 18 – Revenge of the Electric Car (USA, 2011) English w French subtitles; Director – Chris Paine

For three years, director Chris Paine (Who Killed the Electric Car?) was granted unprecedented access to electric car R & D programs on condition that he release no footage until 2011. Tesla CEO Elon Musk puts his personal fortune on the line. Bob Lutz, GM's Vice Chair, stakes the GM brand on the very technology it once tried to kill. Nissan's CEO, Carlos Ghosn, bets the farm on a car few believe can happen. And Greg 'Gadget' Abbott wants to do it himself. The prize is the reinvention of the car without gasoline.

extra added attraction:  Wakefield Mill's Bob Milling (who has put in a charging station at the Mill) and electric car infrastructure champion Eric Leclair will host a discussion about electric cars and infrastructure, at a reception sponsored by the Wakefield Mill.

March 25 – West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson (Canada, 2011) English; Directors – Peter Raymont & Michèle Hozer

How did an illustrator, whose favourite pastime was fishing, find within himself the passion and confidence to portray Ontario’s lakes, rivers, trees and skies with glorious colour and energy as no one had before? Tom Thomson’s life, art and death that haunt us still - thousands each year visit his cairn at Canoe Lake – and his little oil sketches are in the stratosphere of the Canadian art market?  Shot in Algonquin Park, Georgian Bay, Seattle and Toronto, and featuring never-before-seen paintings by this iconic Canadian artist.

extra added attraction: National Gallery of Canada Curator Charles Hill will attend for a post-screening discussion.

April 1 – Payback (Canada, 2012) English w French subtitles; Director – Jennifer Baichwal

Fresh from Sundance Film Festival. Jennifer Baichwal (Act of God, WIFF 2010) undertakes the ambitious task of cinematizing Payback, Margaret Atwood’s visionary book of essays about systems of wealth, justice, and reparation. From feuding clans in Albania to migrant tomato pickers in Florida, Baichwal’s astonishing juxtapositions stimulate provocative associations with Atwood’s ideas. Payback plunges us into the reconsideration of social inequity, what we value, and debt’s profound role as an organizing principle in our lives—one that shapes relationships, society, and the fate of the planet.

Single WIFF tickets are $10 and are available online at www.wakefieldfilmfestival.ca or at the door. A limited number of Festival Passes ($60 – 7 tickets for the price of 6) may also be purchased online, or at Café Molo in Wakefield. All films begin at 5:30pm at the Great Hall, Wakefield LaPêche Community Centre, 38 Valley Road, Wakefield, QC. Wakefield is a lovely riverside village offering the visitor many opportunities for quality dining, a scenic 20-minute drive from downtown Ottawa.

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