Manitoba

Gimme Some Truth film festival tells no lies

Winnipeg’s annual documentary film festival, Gimme Some Truth, offers four days of films that address urgent issues and ideas.
Picture of Light (Thursday, March 20, 7:00 pm) attempts to capture the ineffable Aurora Borealis, though the film crew’s travails up in Churchill become almost as poetic and strange as the lights themselves. (Courtesy Gimme Some Truth Festival)

Got truth? Winnipeg’s annual documentary film festival, Gimme Some Truth, offers four days of films that address urgent issues and ideas.

This year's fest includes several works dealing with Canada’s North, along with world docs, new Winnipeg features, a program of shorts by young aboriginal filmmakers, and lots of discussion and debate. Some films to look out for:

*Toronto-based Peter Mettler—who will be here to introduce his work—makes films about things that seem impossible to put on film. Picture of Light (Thursday, March 20, 7 p.m.) attempts to capture the ineffable Aurora Borealis, though the film crew’s travails up in Churchill become almost as poetic and strange as the lights themselves. The End of Time (Friday, March 21, 9 p.m.) explores our experience of time.

Also showing is a condensed version of Mettler’s film Petropolis, in which aerial footage of the Fort McMurray oil sands project gives some sense of the unfathomable scale of what is happening there. The results are disturbing—and sometimes disturbingly beautiful.

Arctic Defenders presents the mythology of Canada as a northern nation, yet the vast expanse of Canada’s arctic remains a mystery to most southerners. (Courtesy Gimme Some Truth Film Festival)
*As acclaimed filmmaker John Walker points out in the opening of Arctic Defenders (Friday, March 21, 7 p.m.), we have a mythology of Canada as a northern nation, but the vast expanse of Canada’s Arctic remains a mystery to most southerners.

As a young man visiting the North, Walker was haunted by stories about Inuit families shipped hundreds of miles from their homes to act as “human flagpoles” for Canadian sovereignty. In this slow, quietly fascinating film, he returns to investigate the little known story of the largest land claim in the history of western civilization. This peaceful, patient political movement was started in the 1970s by a small group of young Inuit and resulted in the formation of Nunavut.

*On the Trail of the Far Fur Country (Sunday, March 23, 7 p.m.), by Winnipeg filmmaker Kevin Nikkel, begins with the discovery of a silent film, commissioned by the Hudson’s Bay Company, about the fur trade in Canada’s North. Released in 1920, The Romance of the Far Fur Country was viewed as thrillingly exotic.

Retracing the original filmmakers’ journey, Nikkel shows the original footage to people who live in these communities now. Suddenly, the material comes alive, becoming much more personal and much more complex, as we get indigenous perspectives on the complicated legacy of the fur trade and the HBC in the North.

Alice and Kevin is a film from the NSI Aboriginal Documentary Program - about a mother's determination to make a better world for her son who has cerebral palsy. (Chris Read)
*The NSI Aboriginal Documentary Program (Friday, March 21, 5 p.m.) features works by young aboriginal filmmakers, while Stories From Our Land is a series of shorts from Nunavut.  If You Want To Get Married...You Have To Learn How To Build an Igloo is a perfect five-minute film from Alan Auksaq. Riffing on an old NFB short, it shows a guy, a knife, some snow, and one built-before-our-eyes igloo. Cool.  

*John Greyson makes experimental short films about human rights issues, from Moscow to Sarajevo to Gaza to Toronto. Greyson, who will be in Winnipeg to introduce his work (Saturday, March 22, 7 p.m.), talks the talk and also walks the walk: His most recent short film, Prison Arabic, comes out of his 50-day detention in an Egyptian prison. 

The Gimme Some Truth Documentary Festival is produced by the Winnipeg Film Group and runs from March 20 - 23 at Cinematheque.