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Spotlight on world issues

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Dave Sulz

A theme for this year’s Lethbridge International Film Festival initially eluded organizers. But then it all came together: “Falling Apart?”
“We try to put films together around a theme,” said Trevor Page, president of the LIFF board, adding that desired films sometimes aren’t available or are priced beyond the organization’s reach.
Page noted last year’s festival had a theme of “Issues of Our Times,” with films focusing on such issues as climate change, mass migration and North Korea.
“These issues are still with us,” he added.
When the committee met to plan the lineup for this year’s festival, “One of the members said, ‘The world is falling apart,’” Page explained, pointing to “the way things are unravelling in various different spheres,” among them the environment, politics and the economy.
The film lineup for the 34th annual edition of the festival, with the umbrella theme of “Falling Apart?,” will touch on some current areas of concern. The festival will run March 4-9 at the Lethbridge Public Library (Main Branch) Theatre Gallery. Films start at 6:30 p.m. the first five days of the festival, with a 2 p.m. matinee on the final day, and feature free admission (though donations are gratefully received to help the organization continue to present future festivals.
“All our films we’re showing this year are award-winning films,” said Page, noting the majority have appeared at major film festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.
As in previous Lethbridge festivals, each film will be followed by an audience discussion led by a community member who often has an expertise in or connection to the film topic.
This year’s lineup includes:
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (87 min)
Official selection 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
Date: Monday, March 4, 6:30 p.m.
Directors: Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier
Discussant: TBA
Language: English
A mesmerizing look at how we are exploiting and degrading the natural world. Four years in the making and shot in 20 countries on six continents, this disturbing beautiful documentary presents stunning images and minimal commentary of how we are tipping the balance of Planet Earth. It is not accusatory but grounded in humility and open-mindedness. Nevertheless, the visuals are wakeup call that we need to change direction.

Alt Right: Age of Rage (104 min)
Official selection 2018 SXSW Film Festival.
Date: Tuesday, March 5, 6:30 p.m.
Director: Adam Bhala Lough
Discussant: TBA
Language: English
In the first year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an Antifa activist, combats the rise of the alt-right movement, while Richard Spencer, an alt-right leader, fights to gain ground, culminating in a tragic showdown in Charlottesville.

River Blue (95 min)
Date: Wednesday, March 6, 6:30 p.m.
Directors: Roger Williams & David McIlvride
Discussant: Curtis Goodman
Language: English, Other
Can fashion save the planet? Following international river conservationist, Mark Angelo, RIVERBLUE spans the globe to infiltrate one of the world’s most pollutive industries, fashion. Narrated by clean water supporter Jason Priestley, this ground-breaking documentary examines the destruction of our rivers, its effect on humanity, and the solutions that inspire hope for a sustainable future.

First Reformed (108 min)
Official selection Toronto, Telluride, New York and Venice Film Festivals.
Date: Thursday, March 7, 6:30 p.m.
Director: Paul Schrader
Discussant: Rev. Terry Shillington
Language: English
From writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver; American Gigolo; Affliction) comes a gripping thriller about a crisis of faith that is at once personal, political, and planetary. Reverend Ernst Toller (Ethan Hawke) is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. When a pregnant parishioner (Amanda Seyfried) asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption.

Fahrenheit 11/9 (128 min)
World Premiere at 2018 Toronto International Film Festival.
Date: Friday, March 8, 6:30 p.m.
Director: Michael Moore
Language: English
Hailed as “Michael Moore’s most powerful film yet” (Sophia A. McClennen, Salon), Fahrenheit 11/9 is a provocative and comedic look at the times in which we live.
It explores the two most important questions of the Trump Era: How did we get here, and how do we get out?

Sea Wolves of British Columbia (30 min)
Date: Saturday, March 9, 2 p.m. matinee
Director: Rick Andrews
Discussant: Rick Andrews
Language: English
The coastal or sea wolves of British Columbia are a genetically distinct subspecies of grey wolf that inhabit the windswept coast and coastal inlands of northwest British Columbia. Deriving as much as 75% of their diet directly from the sea, these wolves are truly unique and are found nowhere else on earth. In the summer of 2018, local wildlife photographer and filmmaker Rick Andrews filmed a family of sea wolves which he will share in two short documentary films.

The festival’s origins date back to Lethbridge’s former World Citizen Centre, whose mandate included educating the public about the developing world. The local festival remains popular, so much so that sometimes there are more people wanting to attend than the library has room for.
“We’re crammed to the rafters,” said Page, noting organizers had to turn away about 50 people at last year’s festival.
While a larger venue would be nice, it would come with a cost, and that would involve charging attendees, something the festival board would prefer not to do in order to ensure the festival is accessible to everyone.
For more information about the Lethbridge International Film Festival, visit the website at http://www.liffs.org.

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