Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie will open the 2023 edition of Edmonton’s NorthwestFest. The festival revealed its line-up yesterday with Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim’s film set to kick off the event on May 4. The film, which is POV’s cover story for our upcoming issue, is a deeply moving portrait of the beloved Canadian actor, his work in film and television, and his life after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“From the moment I sat down for the highly-anticipated screening at SXSW this past March, I knew we had to open this year’s festival with this film, and no other,” said NorthwestFest Festival Director Guy Lavallee in a statement. “Edmontonians have always been very proud of the fact that Michael J. Fox was born here. After seeing this astonishing film, they’ll be prouder than ever. It really is a remarkable – and remarkably creative – piece of work, and we can’t wait for Edmonton audiences to discover it for themselves.”
NorthwestFest also scored a major coup by landing Gumbo Coalition, the latest film from two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (Harlan Country, USA). After screening at DOC NYC at IDFA, the film bypassed other festivals on the Canadian circuit. Gumbo Coalition follows Civil Rights leaders Marc Morial and Janet Murguía as they work to empower African American and Latino American communities through the challenges of the Trump era.
On the Canadian front, NorthwestFest features Sean Horlor and Steve J. Adams’ popular Satan Wants You, which looks at the 1980s’ Satanic panic through the lens of contemporary “fake news” mania. The festival also screens a hometown premiere for director Omar Mouallem’s The Lebanese Burger Mafia. The film unpacks the zany history of Alberta’s beloved and hugely inconsistent Burger Baron chain and the unexpected tale of the Canadian dream contained within its not-so-secret mushroom sauce.
NorthwestFest brings film-on-film tales to doc fans with screenings of Subject and King on Screen. The former, directed by Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall, considers the ethical concerns filmmakers must face when telling the stories of other people. In King on Screen, directed by Daphné Baiwir, 25 filmmakers look back on the pros and cons of adapting Stephen King books.
The festival also makes it gay with the concurrent LGBTQ event, Rainbow Visions. Docs in this strand include Long Live My Happy Head, directed by Austen McCowen and Will Hewitt. The film tells the story of Scottish cartoon artist Gordon Shaw and his adventure chronicling life with brain cancer. Also screening at Rainbow Visions is 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture. Directed by Sharon “Rocky” Roggio, the doc unpacks a turning point in queer history when a translator misinterpreted a single passage of the Bible.
NorthwestFest screens May 4 to 14 with Rainbow Visions running May 12 to 14. Get the full line-up here.