Doc Highlights at Kingston Canadian Film Festival

This Mountain Life

By Pat Mullen

The Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF) returns this week on Thursday, Feb. 28 and runs through March 3, bringing audiences the world’s largest showcase devoted exclusively to Canadian film. As always, there is a strong documentary front at KCFF, including an opening night celebration of an eco hero, an extraordinary ride through the Canadian wilderness, and stories of local heroes.

Here are some of the many documentary highlights at this year’s Kingston Canadian Film Festival:

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes
Dir. Alison Reid | Thurs, Feb. 28

This year’s festival kicks off with Alison Reid’s The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, which tells the amazing story of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg, a pioneering zoologist who delivered ground-breaking research on giraffes at a time when no scientist—man or woman—was studying animals in the wild. It’s a touching and empowering story of a woman who blazed trails before Jane Goodall turned heads with her research on primates, but with her touching fusion of past and present, Reid finds an inspiring redemption story in Dr. Dagg’s journey back to Africa and back into the spotlight for which she’s long overdue. (Read more about The Woman Who Loves Giraffes in the feature Smitten by Giraffes.)

This Mountain Life
Dir. Grant Baldwin | Fri, Mar. 1; Sun, Mar. 3

POV is proud to support the festival by co-presenting the screenings of Grant Baldwin’s outdoor adventure This Mountain Life. The film is the thrilling account of people fuelled and inspired by the call of the wild, including mother-daughter duo Tania and Martina Halik as they trek BC’s Coastal Mountains. While audiences might be a bit tired of the snow by now, This Mountain Life will remind them of the wonders of Canadian winter as the doc offers breathtaking views of the beauty and dangers of the mountains, as told by Canucks who thrive in the outdoors. Read more about This Mountain Life in the feature The Call of the Wild.

Hugh Hefner’s After Dark: Speaking Out in America
Dir. Brigitte Berman (in attendance) | Fri, Mar. 1; Sat, Mar. 2

Queen’s grad and Academy Award winner Brigitte Berman (Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, Gordon Pinsent: The River of My Dreams) returns to the Playboy empire following her 2009 hit Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel with Hugh Hefner’s After Dark: Speaking Out in America. The doc, which won the audience award for Best Canadian Feature at the Whistler Film Festival in December, chronicles an overlooked aspect of Hef’s legacy as Berman turns her eye towards his groundbreaking late night talk shows. The film offers an objective look at Hefner’s ability to engage audiences with topical conversations about American culture and politics while making notable headway by reflecting diversity onscreen at a time when broadcasters were shy to look beyond portraits of white suburban families. Read the POV review of Hugh Hefner’s After Dark here.

What is Democracy?
Dir. Astra Taylor | Thurs, Feb. 28

Green Book’s victory at this week’s Oscars proves that democracy is a flawed system. However, it might be the best worst idea (to paraphrase another Oscar winner) and Astra Taylor’s What is Democracy? engages with a wide-ranging sample of the world’s citizens to understand the political process. What ensues is a fascinating and thought-provoking film as Taylor puts intellectuals on level playing fields with average citizens, asking questions and listening intently to the ways in which they perceive the democratic process. Democracy might be flawed, but Taylor’s doc shows us that the first step towards fixing a broken system is interrogating it. Read more in our review of the film and the profile Who is Astra Taylor?.

Affairs of the Heart: The Life and Music of Marjan Mozetich
Dir. Jamie Day Fleck | Fri, Mar. 1

Festivalgoers can find a story of local interest in Jamie Day Fleck’s profile of acclaimed composer and Queen’s University’s professor Marjan Mozetich. The doc looks at how Mozetich blends modern and contemporary musical styles to create timeless pieces across a variety of lengths and art forms. His body of work includes orchestras, film scores, chamber pieces, ensemble music, solo acts, theatre, and dance. Moreover, Mozetich has influenced a generation of Canadian musician through his work in the music department at Queen’s. The doc is an intimate glimpse into the life of an artist whose reach is both local and global. Other local docs include Go Boy! Memories of a Life Behind Bars (dir. Rob Lindsay) and the collaborative anthology Who is Bruce Kaufman?.

Get the full line-up here. Tickets are now on sale!

Want to see a documentary with a friend at KCFF? Email and let us know which one! First come, first served.