The 18th Annual ReFrame Film Festival Debuts in Homes Across Canada

The ReFrame film festival kicked off across the country, from January 27 to February 4.

The festival, which is based in Peterborough, Ontario, went virtual this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, but creative director Amy Siegel said that means they can reach an even wider audience. .

“There are over 70 social justice documentaries at the festival this year and we’re streaming across Canada, which is really exciting,” Siegel said.

“The program features amazing short film programs as well as feature films from around the world.”

This is the second time the festival has gone live, but the first time the event is open to a national audience.

“We sold tickets in every province and territory,” Siegel said.

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“There’s an amazing group of environmental documentaries this year, there’s a lot of films about refugee stories as well as food justice and feminist issues. There really is something for everyone and it’s something we try to make happen every year.

Peterborough filmmaker Shahed Khaito has two shorts at the festival.

“One of them is called The hands that feed us, she said. “It’s about migrant farm workers in Canada and in particular in Millbrook, so it’s about the lives of migrant workers, how they are doing.”

Shahed’s second documentary is titled The magic of beginnings.

“He’s a local ESL teacher,” Khaito said. “She learned Arabic to make her students feel at home in her ESL class and I was one of her students.”

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It was in 2019 when Khaito, a Syrian refugee, arrived in Peterborough via Lebanon. Now, Khaito said, she tells her story through film, focusing on immigrant and refugee stories.

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“Being a refugee just opened my eyes to a lot of things in the world,” she said. “I think storytelling is also my way of speaking, expressing myself and healing.”

Khaito said she planned to watch all 70 films on offer at the festival, but said she was particularly excited for one in particular.

“I can’t wait to see the movie The perfect picture because the director was my old film teacher in Lebanon,” she said. “From Lebanon and now we meet at a festival (virtually) in Peterborough.”

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Siegel said people can still buy festival passes. The all-access pass allows viewing of all films, but pay-per-view pricing is also available for individual selections.

She said there are also live aspects that provide opportunities with the filmmakers as well as recorded Q&As.

“These documentaries give us a way to learn and connect and experience things outside of ourselves and I think right now we really crave that sense of connection,” Siegel said.

Khaito agreed, adding that she noticed that more and more people were getting inspiration from documentaries.

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“Now I’m so connected to people through movies. From isolation, we see people challenging themselves to make movies and watch movies as well.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the ReFrame Film Festival website.

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Darcy J. Skinner