Edmonton’s innovative Northwestfest has announced its lineup of documentary films. Like a gigantic magazine in sight and sound, topics range from Donald Trump’s golf courses, a Saskatchewan spelling bee, obsessive Tokyo Idol fans, chronic fatigue syndrome, the supposed failings of George Lucas, Scientology and legendary motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. For starters.
Opening night of the 10-day international film fest running May 5-14 will be the premiere of Victor Walk, with special guest Theoren Fleury. Proceeds go to the Breaking Free Foundation for survivors of trauma.
Film festival director Guy Lavallee beams about conservation film The Last Animals (7 p.m., May 9, Metro Cinema), directed by Kate Brooks, who will be in attendance.
“It goes Tribeca to Hot Docs to here. She’s a crazy, award-winning photojournalist. This is the first film she’s done about animals, specifically about elephants and rhinos and their impending extinction.
Lavallee notes: “At this moment in history right now, documentaries and especially journalistic-style docs that are telling real stories, are more important than ever. Reporting that doesn’t agree with the mob’s preconceptions isn’t fake — it’s actually crucial.”
Besides the political films, a number of biopics are rolling through. May 6 will be the Canadian premiere of May it Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers, directed by Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio. Local producer Adam Scorgie (Ice Guardians) returns to the fest, revving up with Chasing Evel: The Robbie Knievel Story — premiering at Metro Cinema on May 12. And closing night will be the documentary Hired Gun, exploring the up-and-down lives of session musicians who have provided support on some of rock and roll’s most iconic albums.
Other film topics include urban studies author Jane Jacobs, nuclear fusion and a biography of groundbreaking gay storyteller Amistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City. Bee Nation is the spelling bee film, and the fest features a Trump Triple Bill as well as a documentary shorts series downtown at Matrix Hotel.
“Shorts packages work better in a smaller, more intimate setting,” says Lavallee. “They can get a little bit lost in the Garneau’s 500 seats. Sure enough, Matrix has this great room that already has a screen, and they can arrange it cabaret-style, bring a drink over from the lounge. There’ll be a little concessions stand with popcorn.
“We’re doing more stuff with The Needle, too, so you almost walk a diagonal from The Needle to the Matrix to the Metro.”
Passes, six-packs and single-admission tickets to Canada’s longest-running documentary film festival are available now at www.northwestfest.ca, and can be picked up in person at Tix on the Square. Early bird passes are $89; individual screenings run $12 unless otherwise noted.
Full information and tickets at northwestfest.ca. See you there!
Where: Metro Cinema (8712 108 St.), Matrix Hotel (10640 100 Ave.), The Needle (10524 Jasper Ave.)
When: May 5-14
Admission: $12 individual screenings; $89 early bird pass