A well-crafted documentary can stick with a person for a long time. It is why Mandy Leith fell in love with the medium.
“One of the first documentaries made in the 1920s was Man With A Movie Camera. I was studying film in the UK and it had a great impact on me,” said Leith, who has been in the filmmaking business for 30 years. “The cameraman turns the camera back on himself showing what is happening in the Russian city he was in. In a lot ways that documentary is haunting. It was one of the first documentaries I saw that made me think how powerful a tool it is to use cinema to tell real stories.”
Leith is hosting a masterclass on using social media to share stories at the annual We Love Documentary weekend held at the Shatford Centre on Oct. 17 to 19, featuring six films and two workshops.
Leith is the founder of opencinema.ca and is a media educator. Following her 2013 cross-Canada documentary pilgrimage Get on the Doc Bus, she is now developing an innovative multi-city hybrid cinema format called Connect the Docs. Through her company, Media Rising, she works as an impact producer and social media strategist with businesses, non-profits and creators of all kinds.
“Documentary takes the viewer into a real in-depth story of a person or an issue or situation and it is one of things we have less and less of in our 140-character world,” said Leith. “It really takes you into a persons life in an in-depth way. It is a deep experience about learning about an ordinary person doing something extra-ordinary and creates a shared journey for the viewer. One of the things I love about documentaries is that journey continues with questions, discussions and sometimes further action. Essentially it is using the format to engage and build community.”
Co-organizer Pepita Ferrari has worked as an independent writer, director and producer in the documentary field for over 20 years and for another 10 years before that in animation. She is best known for the National Film Board production Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary. She is also a documentary consultant, specializing in projects from emerging filmmakers and is a high in demand workshop presenter. She just accepted a second mandate as National Chairperson of the Documentary Organization of Canada.
The weekend opens with a 7 p.m. showing of Alive Inside. This explores the uniquely human connection to music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short. The film is a 2014 winner of the Sundance Audience Award.
On Oct. 18, at 1 p.m., Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story will be shown. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food tossed out each year in North America, two filmmakers decide to quite grocery shopping and survive on discarded food. What they discover is shocking. This is a winner of the 2014 Hot Docs Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award.
From Nothing, Something, will be shown at 3 p.m. This documentary is a thoughtful, intimate and often funny look at the creative process. At 5 p.m. Ferrari will host a masterclass about storytelling in the age of information overlaid. This will be followed by the screening of 112 Weddings at 7:30 p.m. For two decades Doug Block supplemented his income shooting weddings. The film includes candid present-day interviews with the subjects of his original wedding videos while exploring the themes of love and marital commitment.
On Oct. 19 the day starts at 1 p.m. with Cyber Seniors, a humorous and heartwarming documentary about a group of colourful seniors discovering the world of the internet through the guidance of teenage mentors.
The weekend finishes with Walking The Camino: Six Ways To Santiago showing at 4 p.m. The film draws the audience into a life-changing journey that lures people from all over the world to spend a month or more walking the 500 miles of Spain’s Camino de Santiago trail with nothing more than a backpack and a pair of boots.
The annual We Love Documentary takes place Oct. 17 to 19 at the Shatford Centre.
Tickets are $10 per film or masterclass. Weekend passes are $45 or $40 for OSA members. Tickets are on sale at the Shatford Centre and The Book Shop.