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Lunenburg Doc Fest ‘all about the films’

Director Alexandra Dean takes questions from the audience after the screening of her film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at the 2017 Lunenburg Doc Fest.  -Beatrice Schuler
Director Alexandra Dean takes questions from the audience after the screening of her film Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story at the 2017 Lunenburg Doc Fest. -Beatrice Schuler - Contributed

The reels will be rolling practically non-stop for the fifth annual Lunenburg Doc Fest, taking place Sept. 20 to 23 at the Lunenburg Opera House, where some 15 documentaries will be shown.

“It’s all about the films,” said Pamela Segger, executive director and lead programmer of Lunenburg Doc Fest. “We have some exciting films and have some guest filmmakers coming for some of the screenings.”

Lunenburg Doc Fest also has a conference side, which is now in its third year. “That is where we host free professional development workshops, round tables, sessions and meetings with key industry decision-makers,” said Segger.

The conference takes place at the Lunenburg Arms Hotel. [The] festival centre is the United Church Hall where the opening night gala will be held on Sept. 20 starting at 8:45 p.m.

Segger said the festival has been “growing consistently”, since it was started, “[Which] means we’re able to offer more films from around the world and complimentary experiences. Hopefully there’s something for everyone. We almost added a second screen this year, but it’s inevitable.”

There are three free screenings at Doc Fest this year, including the just released The Song and the Sorrow.

Produced by the National Film Board and directed by Prince Edward Island filmmaker Millefiore Clarkes, the documentary follows Juno-award winning musician Catherine MacLellan as she journeys to understand her father, Gene MacLellan, and his legacy of music and mental health struggles. It will be shown at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 21.

That evening, live performances will share the stage with the silver screen for Docupoems, a collaborative project between Lunenburg Doc Fest and Art Nova Scotia where professional filmmakers have been paired with poets, and together have created short documentaries which are actually live performances of poetry with a movie image in the background, said Segger.

Scheduled to start at 9 p.m., it is also a free admission event. For the family, Pick of the Litter is being offered as a free screening on Sept. 23 at 10 a.m.

The film follows five puppies from the time they are born, through two years of training to be guide dogs.

Segger said it’s looking like festival passes will sell out again this year.

“Pass sales are happening quicker this year which is fantastic,” she said. “We have a really great loyal audience who are engaged and interactive. We get a lot of returning faces,” she said, adding the Festival attracts people from other areas of Nova Scotia, as well as outside the province. A limited number of individual tickets will be available for screenings during the festival.

The Lunenburg Doc Fest will give out four awards this year, including the new $1,000 Feature Documentary Award, the Short Film Award and the Atlantic Filmmaker Award, all chosen by a jury and the Audience Award, chosen by the festival audience.

Lunenburg Doc Fest is a non-profit organization dedicated to showcasing documentary films that entertain, educate, inspire and enrich the lives of Lunenburg citizens and visitors.

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