Photo of Steven Hunt by Susan Murdock
“I have never really thought of doing a narrative film until my son Dylan asked me to help him on one of his high school projects. He wrote a script about a fictional town called Redemption where nothing was sacred except blood, money and religion. What eventually emerged was a complete and complex world of a fictional town,” replies filmmaker Steven Hunt. Ottawa Indie Fest spoke to Hunt at his home about his web series Past Redemption.
Steven Hunt, a seasoned director and producer, has worked in Latin America and Africa on numerous broadcast and communications projects. His documentaries on various social issues have appeared on Canadian, European and New Zealand television.
Past Redemption is a 9-part character-driven web series about survival in a small impoverished town, where you can be law abiding and live in poverty, or be involved in petty crime where prospects improve dramatically. It is also the historical birthplace of a major crime family – the Wesley’s.
The web series will have a special premiere screening at the Mayfair Theatre on May 19th at 7pm. It will also appear on line, as nine separate episodes released every second Thursday starting June 2, 2016.
Photo of Mar Y Sol by Jesse Mckinnon
“This film for me has a lot of meaning. My first thought about it is how does one come to terms with their past. If Sayachapis was able to heal himself from his suffering, if he found the strength to get help and heal himself, anybody can do it”, filmmaker Mar Y Sol tells Ottawa Indie Fest when we spoke to her about her award winning documentary film Sayachapis which screens at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26, 2015.
Named “52” for ten years, Sayachapis now lives alone on Indian Island, a small island off grid off the coast of Vancouver Island. A residential school survivor, he remembers vividly the hard labor, starvation, rape, broken bones and unimaginable horrors from the years gone by. “I am still alive, I am still ok.”
Update: Ma Y Sol’s Sayachapis was awarded Best Documentary Short at the 26th annual One World Film Festival in Ottawa on September 26, 2015. Photos
Photo of Howard Adler by Ed Kucerak
“Yes making this film was a challenge, but I think to a much lesser extent then the challenge that the five indigenous artists faced in designing a heritage marker. I really did want to do justice to their story though, and to show how much hard work and struggle the artists put into creating the commemorative marker”, replies filmmaker Howard Adler when we asked him about his documentary An Object that has Spirit which has its World Premiere at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26, 2015.
An Object that has Spirit tells the story of five indigenous artists who came together from across Canada to create a heritage marker to honour Indian Residential School Survivors and entrust their experiences to public memory. Faced with an enormous task, the artists rise to the challenge, transforming what was originally conceived of as a heritage plaque into an object imbued with spirit.
How did you get involved in the making of this film?
I was basically approached by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), on the recommendations of an advisory committee, which was actually composed of some seriously talented and well known Indigenous Artists. I believe their role was to also make recommendations for artists that could be chosen to create the Commemorative Marker, and I was very honoured that they recommended me for this project.
My job was to document the Commemorative Marker Workshop, a week long gathering in which 5 artists had to conceive and design an object that would commemorate the legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada, and to create a short film about the creative process.
Photo of Jennifer Robbins by Robin Canfield
“I think there is something really powerful about caring about something so much that you would do anything to keep it alive. Meeting the members of Chajil Ch’upup, it really makes you wonder about your own life. Is there something you would get up every morning at the crack of dawn to fight for?”, filmmaker Jennifer Robbins tells Ottawa Indie Fest during a recent interview about her documentary Chajil Ch’upup which screens at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26. 2015.
The film Chajil Ch’upup (Guardians of the Tule) explores the world of Juan, an Tz’utujil Mayan whose family has fished Lake Atitlan (Guatemala) for generations. His generation especially, however, has been subject to major trials created by nature, and also by man. The members of the local fishing cooperative – Chajil Ch’upup – have banded together to work towards a solution and a better life.
How did you get involved in the making of your film?
I was finishing my final year of Humber College where I was studying Film and Television Production and one of my teachers introduced an opportunity to complete the internship by traveling abroad to work on a documentary project. I remember being so excited and running home to research Actuality Media and Guatemala. I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of the project, I applied to be director and a few weeks later after an interview process, I got in.
In 1919, a film crew set out on an epic journey across Canada’s North. Over the course of six months, their expedition traveled by icebreaker, canoe, and dog sled, capturing the Canadian fur trade in a silent feature documentary. The Romance of the Far Fur Country was released in 1920, two years before the legendary film Nanook of the North.
Rediscovering the documentary in a British archive, filmmaker Kevin Nikkel began a journey to resurrect the lost film, taking it to the communities where the film was originally shot. The result is the award winning feature documentary On the Trail of the Far Fur Country.
The film captures the descendants of the First Nations communities depicted in the 1919 footage watching the archival footage as they recognize faces, landscapes and lost traditions.
Ottawa Indie Fest recently spoke to Kevin Nikkel about the making of his film which screens at the ByTowne Cinema on May 24 at 6:25pm as part of the Lost Dominion Screening Collective’s series of film screenings.
How did you get involved in the making of this film?
As a filmmaker based in Winnipeg, I’ve done a series of documentaries for a local broadcaster on local history topics. I wanted to expand my scope to something national, and figured that approaching the topic of the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) was a good place to start.
“Almost everything we eat these days is spiked with sugar, in one form or another. It’s disguised with many, many different names. We are talking about an international multi-billion dollar industry that has refined a lot more than sugar. It’s refined it’s messaging and its ‘pitch’ to the public, one spoonful at a time,” the Emmy-nominated and Gemini Award-winning filmmaker Michèle Hozer (Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould, Shake Hands with The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire), tells Ottawa Indie Fest during a recent interview about her feature documentary Sugar Coated.
Sugar Coated takes a hard look at the sugar industry and the tactics that has health experts calling sugar the new tobacco. As obesity rates skyrocket and doctors treat the first generation of children suffering from fatty liver disease, this compelling investigative doc, which screens at Ottawa’s independent Mayfair Theatre on May 21st at 6:30pm, exposes the sugar industry’s systematic hijacking of scientific study to bury evidence that sugar is, in fact, toxic.
For over 40 years, Big Sugar has deflected threats to its multi-billion dollar empire through creative PR and tactics strikingly similar to the way the tobacco industry disguised its products are addictive and cause fatal illnesses. The film features rare archival footage, secret documents and interviews with health crusaders Gary Taubes, Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, Dr. Cristin Kearns and Stanton Glantz, working together to reverse the trend threatening the health and economy of the nation.
The harmful effects of sugar have been know for some time. What attracted you to make a film about sugar at this time?