2023 Festival Lineup

A More Radiant Sphere | 44min | Canada
Directed by Sara Wylie
A mid-length hybrid documentary about Joe Wallace: Canadian Communist poet, political prisoner, and the filmmaker’’s long lost family member. Shot on 16mm and digital, featuring original songs by award-winning musician Fiver/Simone Schmidt.

Awakening – as told by Roman Toi | 5min | Canada
Directed by Kalli Paakspuu
Alongside 20th Century visionaries like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley, Maestro Roman Toi advocated social justice and peaceful resistance through music and became a celebrated conductor and composer in Estonia’s Singing Revolution.

Bayou Cirque | 6min | United States
Directed by Wesley Shrum
Inspired by poet Emily Dickinson, Bayou Cirque is an ethnography of practice where performers seek the original spirit of the circus: to do what others cannot do.

Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace
82min | New Zealand
Directed by John Nicolas Chrisstoffels

In 1952 a New Zealand Farmer makes an unthinkable journey to Communist China in one of the hottest moments of the Cold War. A champion for freedom of speech, Bill Youren captures a vision of peace on his 8mm film camera, revealing a unique political perspective from this era. Building bridges through understanding culture and art became his life-long mission to safeguard the world from war. 

Calle K | 53min | Ecuador
Directed by Titus Fossgard-Moser

Calle K is a documentary film that looks at the evolution over time of an illegal squatter settlement. In 1978 Titus Fossgard-Moser lived with his brother and filmmaker/anthropologist parents in the Indio Guayas community in what was then the outskirts of Guayaquil, Ecuador. In May 2018, forty years later, Titus returned to Indio Guayas. The resulting film ‘Calle K’ provides a unique visual narrative, cross-cutting footage from the ‘People of the Barrio’ with present day material to show the physical transformation of the barrio, alongside recounting the remarkable inter-generational stories of three of the original families. 

DOWN RIVER | 29min | United States
Directed by Flynn Donovan

“My films always touch on the working man. In this particular instance I chose a fishing crew in the Peruvian Amazon. What unfolds is a richly textured human drama.”

Equestrian Mid-South | 27min | United States
Directed by David Goodman

Equestrian Mid-South is a documentary about the community of horse specialists in and around Memphis, Tennessee. The specialists in the film include a horse trainer, riders, a farrier, a veterinarian, a barn manager, and a polo enthusiast. Moving from Spring to Fall, Equestrian Mid-South traces the shared perspectives and passions of this small group of horse men and women who have made lives for themselves that are inseparable from the animals that inspire them.

Ethnic Kitchen | 71min | Lithuania
Directed by Aiste Ptakauske

Ethnic Kitchen is a documentary about five women that immigrated to post-Soviet independent Lithuania from different countries (Uruguay, Jamaica, Chechnya, USA, a Roma settlement) and for different reasons (political persecution, love, career opportunities), but with the same goal – to find a home away from home.

Front Line | 8min | United States
Directed by Gino Canella
Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, were on strike in 2021 for more than 300 days. At the center of the strike is the concern about staffing, specifically the high patient-to-nurse ratios that nurses say make it difficult to provide adequate care for patients. Front Line examines the historic strike from the perspectives of the nurses, using an observational style that places viewers on the picket line in Worcester.

Hands of Ours | 11min | Croatia
Directed by Aida Vidan

In a respectful homage to the craftsmanship of a self-sufficient lifestyle, we watch the hands of an elderly couple as they toil in the earth, harvest, bake, cook, wash, sew, build, and even braid the hair of a grandchild. Accompanied by wistful traditional music, it is a testament to the continued strength of ways of living long forgotten by modern society.

Home: A Himalayan Portrait | 8min | Australia
Directed by Jane Dyson & Ross Harrison

In the twilight months before her inevitable arranged marriage, Munni contemplates her home in the Indian Himalayas. She reflects on her ties to family and the land, her ambivalent pursuit for an education outside the village and the delicate dance between continuity and social change. Based on ethnographic research in the village over two decades, ‘Home’ is an intimate portrait of love and loyalty, and of simmering unease for what might lie ahead.

Journey to Our Homeland | 24min | Canada
Directed by Adrien Harpelle

In September 2019, Nibinamik First Nation Elders Tommy Yellowhead and Stephen Neshinapaise, both born at PinnaeMootang, were accompanied by a small group of youth and a Shebafilms crew as they traveled an historic canoe route to their birthplace. They paddled southward from Nibinamik First Nation to their old village site, with the journey and experiences captured for the film ‘Journey to Our Homelands.’

JUMPING-OFF PLACE | 30min | Russian Federation
Directed by Svetlana Stasenko
People believe in God. But some rulers try to replace God with themselves. For this purpose, press secretaries and PR managers come up with strange, absurd and very expensive projects. A huge icon «The Savior Not Made by Hands”, created “at the personal expense of the President of the Russian Federation” travels to all military units of Russia, and soldiers are forced to pray near it and to kiss it.

Keelepäästja (To Save a Language/Sauver une
langue) | 74min | Estonia
Directed by Liivo Niglas

The documentary “To Save a Language” tells the story of the endeavor to save an endangered Plains Indian language with the help of a language program led by an Estonian linguist. The film follows the protagonist in his efforts to revive the language, including the difficult decisions he has to make along the way. It also highlights the role of language in shaping one’s identity.

La Oreja (The Ear) | 39min | Puerto Rico
Directed by Nelson Varas-Díaz

This documentary film follows a grass-roots group of auricular acupuncturists who provide free of charge services for local communities in Puerto Rico, where only licensed physicians are legally allowed to do so. In a country where the health care system has collapsed, and physician migration to the United States seems uncontrollable, the “Acupuncture for the People” project stands as a bastion of resistance, inspiration, and hope.

Letters to prison: windows inside walls | 56min | Spain
Directed by Neus Ràfols & Adolfo Estrada
In 2019, nine Catalan independence activists and politicians were jailed for organizing a self-determination referendum. In 2021, the Spanish Government pardoned them, however, dozens of court cases are still open to other political figures and activists. During the more than 3 years in prison they served, they received thousands of letters. Letters that were “windows inside walls”.

Love in the Time of Fentanyl* | 80min | USA
Directed by Colin Askey
Set in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, LOVE IN THE TIME OF FENTANYL is an intimate, observational look beyond the stigma of injection drug users, revealing the courage of those facing terrible tragedy in a neighbourhood often referred to as ground zero of the overdose crisis.
*Only available for viewing in Canada

Maasai Remix | 67min | Tanzania/USA
Directed by Ron Mulvihill & Kelly Askew

Maasai Remix follows three Maasai individuals who—in the United Nations, a Tanzanian village, an American university—confront challenges to their community by drawing strength from traditions, modifying them when necessary, and melding them with new resources. Adam advocates in international political spheres while Evalyne pursues a college education in the USA and Frank promotes education at home. Sharing a goal of Maasai self-determination, Adam, Evalyne and Frank innovate while maintaining an abiding respect and love for their culture.

Manatee Rescue: The Last Stand of a Florida
Treasure | 6min | United States
Directed by Shannon Malone-deBenedictis
The Riverside Conservancy is on a mission. Its team of experts and partners are united to save the Indian River Lagoon and its most famous resident: the manatee. Their scientists, conservationists and committed volunteers work to rescue ailing manatees, map locations of concern, engage local and state officials on action items and restore the estuary to what it once was.

Molecular Chirality: A Scientific Documentary
14min | United Kingdom
Directed by Robert Cameron

“Molecular Chirality: A Scientific Documentary” is all about the distinction between left- and right at the molecular scale and its importance. A wealth of topics are covered, ranging from the thalidomide tragedy to the search for life on other worlds.

Neither a Girl Nor a Woman | 61min | India
Directed by Anjali Patil

Neither a Girl Nor a Woman is a feature length documentary which contemplates, observes and plays along with ideas of what it means to be a girl or a woman in contemporary times. This documentary observes the spectrum of womanhood via three female artists on three levels.
A formal space of interview, an intimate space of poetry and a collective space of choreographic gestures.
These contemplations are gentle whispering questions.
Because questioning is important for evolution.

On my own two feet: destination 3000m (Sur mes deux jambes: objectif 3000 m) | 32min | France
Directed by Oliver Lambert

For the first time in their lives, Jérôme, Sarah, Christophe, Luca and Michel will climb a 3000m peak in the Alps. Physically prepared or not, they know that their willpower will be stronger than the pain: they are determined to prove that all amputees can walk, run and hike on their own two feet again, thanks to a project of affordable blade developed by young engineers.

People Like Us | 11min | United Kingdom
Directed by Tina Gharavi

Since DNA evidence has come into play, approximately 300 people have been released from death row after tests showed they had been wrongfully convicted. Many exonerees are released from their cells without fanfare, apologies or anywhere to go.  
People Like Us is a lyrical and intensely emotional film; using documented voices of exonerees, interviews, archival footage and experimental drama, to ask: how to square those years of being locked up with being released an exonerated man. 

IPerfect Strangers | 69min | USA
Directed by Jan Krawitz

Perfect Strangers raises questions about what motivates an individual towards an extreme act of compassion. The film tells the story of two unique and engaging characters. Ellie embarks on an unpredictable journey of twists and turns, determined to give away one of her kidneys. Five hundred miles away, Kathy endures nightly dialysis and loses hope of receiving a transplant until Ellie reads her profile on an online website. Both women face unexpected challenges as their parallel stories unfold over the course of four years. Through the prism of one kidney’s journey, Perfect Strangers confronts thorny philosophical questions about acts of compassion, altruism, and ultimately, who deserves a second chance at life and at what cost.

Rebel Angel | 87 min | Canada
Directed by Chris Lowry

Seven years in the making, Rebel Angel paints a portrait of the evanescent cultural figure Ross Woodman (1922-2014), Jungian author Marion Woodman, and their extraordinary marriage. Rebel Angel is a film about identity, love, dysfunctional families, despair, the redemptive power of art, and the long, relentless reach of mentorship.

Ruffed Grouse | 9min | United States
Directed by Tracy Graziano
& Hal S. Korber
Between 2001 and 2005 the ruffed grouse population suffered a 63% decline in Pennsylvania. No one was sure why but in 2015 and through 2016 Lisa Williams and her team confirmed that the state bird is suffering losses due to West Nile Virus (WNV) infection… By incorporating these findings into habitat management planning, the Game Commission and partners hope to direct habitat management efforts to areas where grouse populations have the best chance of responding.

Severe Brain Injury Recovery; Shooting for the
Stars | 17min | Canada
Directed by Kimberly Smith

This is an unvarnished video portrait of Doug Rafuse and Kelly Leblanc working on recovery from severe brain injuries with the help of Robert Hessian. It is constructed from home videos and family snapshots taken over the past twenty five years. It raises the bar for how people with severe brain injuries can be supported to work every day to move their bodies and live healthy lives no matter what.

Student Hunger: A Silent Crisis | 2min | Australia
Directed by Jane Dyson
Shame. Loneliness. Fatigue. Anxiety. What does it feel like go hungry on campus? Food insecurity is a silent yet critical issue, affecting up to 40% of university students and becoming even more acute in the context of the global cost of living crisis. But the stigma surrounding hunger means students’ experiences remain hidden. This animated portrait draws on ethnographic research conducted by and with food insecure students in Australia. It tells an intimate story of shame and exclusion, individual hustle, and strategies for collective action.

The Eyes of My Love – Os Olhos do meu Amor
75min | Portugal
Directed by Rui Silveira

Every four years, we can find a generous paper flower garden in the arid landscape of Alentejo, Portugal. This strange mirage is made possible thanks to the people of Campo Maior who gather for months to transform their village into the image of their dreams.

The Land Beneath Our Feet
60min | Liberia/United States
Directed by Gregg Mitman & Sarita West (Siegel)

When lost footage from the 1920s depicting a corporate land grab in the early days of globalization arrives back in Liberia, it sparks inquiry into how Liberians lost sovereignty over the very land that sustains them. The Land Beneath Our Feet weaves together rare archival footage from a 1926 Harvard expedition to Liberia with the journey of a young Liberian man, uprooted by war, seeking to understand how the past has shaped land conflicts in his country today.

The last refuge: food stories from Myanmar to Coffs Harbour | 25min | Australia
Directed by Mandy Hughes

More than 400 people from Myanmar have settled in the regional town of Coffs Harbour, Australia. Some of these settlers have spent more than 20 years in refugee camps. They have fled their homeland with little more than their memories and their stories. But these memories allow their traditions to continue. And food can play an important role in reproducing this cultural identity. 

The Terrible: Strongest Man in the World
50min | Canada
Directed by J. Jack Guler
The Terrible documentary film tells the tragic story of the undefeated wrestler Great Youssouf, considered one of the most powerful figures in world history. This strong man started his wrestling career in Ottoman lands, and while returning from America after winning championships in Europe and America, and his career ended with a sinking transatlantic in the Atlantic Ocean.

Trees die standing tall – Los árboles mueren de pie 62min | Mexico/France
Directed by Ronan Kerneur & Fany Fulchiron
In Mexico, the city of Cherán is threatened by wood traffickers who come to loot its forests and terrorize its inhabitants. Villagers disappear, sacred trees are knocked down, and the State remains silent. Cherán, led by a small group of women, decides to start a rebellion. This fight leads them back to their ancestral Purepecha traditions.

What if Babel was just a Myth? | 56min | France
Directed by Sandrine Loncke

Following a young researcher documenting a language isolate in southern Chad, the film goes out to meet villagers and explore their relation to languages. With their testimonies, one discovers a deeply multilingual humanity, made up of a myriad societies, each endlessly using language to encode its knowledge, its culture, and much more: its entire worldview. But for how much longer?

What We’re Hungry For: How Food Pantries Fed Rural Wisconsin During the Pandemic
44min | United States
Directed by Jim Winship

Documenting the response of five local Wisconsin food pantries to the unprecedented needs created by the coronavirus pandemic, this film tells the story of the hard work, ingenuity, and compassion of these organizations while also exploring the complex and longstanding challenges of fighting hunger in rural America.

Wild Honey | 72min | Russia/USA
Directed by Ava Porter & Farhad Akhmetov

A rapturous ethnographic look at traditional folk music, ‘Wild Honey’ presents the ethnic communities of five regions across Russia: the Bashkirs of the Ural Mountains, the Cossacks of the Caucasus, the Molokans of the Southern Steppe, the Ashkenazim and Krymchaks of the Black Sea, and the Altaians of Central Siberia. While on the surface these groups appear to differ, varying in location, religion, and language, they are united through their connection to music — for all of them, song is an expression of everyday life, each note a trace of the ancestral past, each beat a conduit to the future.

Wrought | 19min | Canada
Directed by Joel Penner & Anna Sigrithur

A stunning visual exploration of matter in various states of microbial transformation begs fundamental questions about human cultures’ complicated relationships with other species.