Docs to See at Canadian Film Fest

This is North Preston closes this year’s Canadian Film Festival


By Pat Mullen

The Canadian Film Festival is in full swing offering Toronto’s biggest event dedicated exclusively to Canadian content. The CFF kicked off earlier this week on Tuesday with the Toronto premiere of Shane Belcourt’s Red Rover starring Kristian
Bruun and Cara Gee as a scientist/musician duo on an eclectic one-way trip to Mars. Belcourt previously co-directed Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier with Lisa Jackson. The film was named best documentary at 2017’s imagineNATIVE Film + Video Festival.

While this POV writer completely had his release dates/festival dates scrambled this week, there are still some docs to catch at the fest! Here’s what’s still playing on the doc front at the Canadian Film Festival:

Wolves Unleashed – Against All Odds
Dir. Andrew Simpson
Thurs, March 22 @ 7:00 PM | Cineplex Scotiabank

Director Andrew Simpsons continues the Wolves Unleashed series with Against All Odds. Shot in the picturesque fields of Mongolia, Against All Odds follows the multi-award winning Siberia in chronicling the beauty and resilience of wolves around the world. This doc offers an especially personal point of view as Simpson reflects on his experience with wolves: raising them, training then, and educating people about their misperceptions about the animals. The film draws upon the beauty of Mongolian landscape as Simpson reflects on the wild character of the wolves and charts their journey in adapting and surviving to a changing world. As a bonus, fans of film-on-film documentaries will be interested to see Simpson’s way with the animals given that his wolves were trained for Jean-Jacques Annaud’s international blockbuster Wolf Totem.


Wolves Unleashed | Against All Odds Trailer from Wolves Unleashed on Vimeo.

This is North Preston
Dir. Jaren Hayman
Sat, March 23 @ 8:00 PM | Cineplex Scotiabank

CFF celebrates the non-fiction scene with the Closing Night Selection of This is North Preston to round out this year’s festival. The hard-hitting doc takes audiences to the community of North Preston, Nova Scotia, the site of Black settlement during several waves of migration throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. The community has a population that ranges only 4,000 people, but North Preston has the highest concentration of Black Canadians in the country, making the doc a timely and relevant study of representation and inequity. Offering interviews with rappers, gangsters, pimps, sex workers, and everyday people who hope to see the community thrive, the film gives voice to the community as it tries to make sense of its past, present, and future. Jaren Hayman’s verité-style doc confronts the changes over time that have led North Preston to become a notorious site for pimping, prostitution, violence, and crime. It’s an eye-opening look at the long-lasting effects of systemic racism, but ultimately a hopeful call to action.

The Canadian Film Festival runs through March 23. All screenings are at Cineplex Scotiabank. Get the complete line-up here.