Doc(k) Day connects audience over documentaries
By Sue Tiffin
Published March 28, 2019
In previous years at Doc(k) Day, audience members have left the ballroom of the Pinestone connected in some way after having viewed a documentary. Some have gone solo and end up discussing what they’ve seen with fellow film goers next to them, while others have made a “girls night” of the occasion and chat after the film with their friends on the way to lunch.
So it’s fitting that an event that brings friends, family, neighbours and strangers together to connect over documentary films is celebrating a theme of “connections” in the documentary choices this year.
The eighth annual Doc(k) Day, an all-day documentary film festival held at the Pinestone, features screenings of four films on April 6 with the first starting at 10 a.m. and the last screening at 7:30 p.m. Presented by Those Other Movies, the committee chooses the “gems,” according to organizer Tammy Rea, from all the films they watch in the year, opting for documentaries that are moving, touching and thought-provoking for their audiences. This year’s line-up includes Three Identical Strangers, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch and You Are Here.
“We want you to walk out of there at the end of the day with some new friends, people you’ve connected to through the screen, and a slightly better person,” she said. “You know something more, you do something more, and it might just change the way you see the world a little bit.”
Although guests can pick and choose which documentaries they watch, Rea said most guests end up “cocooning” themselves at the Pinestone, chatting over lunch and dinner between the thoughtfully scheduled movies.
“The conversation just starts from the minute you get there and just evolves throughout the whole day,” she said.
Three Identical Strangers (10 a.m.) offers what Rea called a “biological connection.” The film tells the true story of three strangers who are unaware they were born as identical triplets, but are incredibly reunited by coincidence as adults. According to the film summary, “[t]heir jaw-dropping, feel-good story instantly becomes a global sensation complete with fame and celebrity, however, the fairy-tale reunion sets in motion a series of events that unearth an unimaginable secret – a secret with radical repercussions for us all.”
The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (1 p.m.) tells the story of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg, the world’s first “giraffologist,” who in 1956 became a groundbreaking scientist who was to giraffes as Jane Goodall later was to chimpanzees. She wrote what is still today considered the “giraffe bible,” according to Rea, but faced discrimination from the University of Guelph and a stifled career when she returned to Canada.
Director Alison Reid, who will attend the screening and a Q and A alongside Dr. Dagg, heard about Dagg’s work through a CBC radio show and after reading her memoir, asked to go with Dagg when she returned to Africa after half a century. The result is The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, a documentary which caused University of Guelph to issue a public apology to Dagg, and create a scholarship in the scientist’s name for a female biology student.
“Anne is a really warm person and you fall in love with her in the film,” said Reid. “You fall in love with giraffes with her if you don’t already love giraffes, and you connect with her suffering, with what she went through with her career. That speaks to many people as well. We’ve had women get up and they’re just damn angry.” Rea said Dagg’s attendance will be a “huge moment.”
“We seem to get standing ovations every time when she’s there,” said Reid.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (3:30 p.m.) is described in its film summary as a “cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive re-engineering of the planet” and offers, according to Rea, an environmental connection. She said it’s not just a documentary, but a “whole project, a whole movement,” with exhibitions showing at the Art Gallery of Ontario and in Ottawa museums.
Invited to the screening is Barr Gilmore, who designed the titling in the movie as well as the interactive book, members of Environment Haliburton and Paul MacInnes, who will speak to the local natural shoreline project.
“It again leaves you going, ‘oh, what is man doing to the planet, but the whole beautiful thing about the filmmakers is that they said, we feel that if man can do this, then man will be able to think of something to undo this,” said Rea, explaining this documentary is different than what she hears audiences don’t want to be left with: a depressing film that doesn’t also move them to action.
The last movie of the day is called You Are Here: A Come From Away Story (7:30 p.m.) and Rea said it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen Come From Away or not, because You Are Here tells the story from the perspective of the Gander, Nfld. residents who generously accepted and supported almost 7,000 unexpected guests landing at their airport, rerouted after the American terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Producer Peter Gentile will be in attendance to introduce the movie and discuss its contents.
“Then connections to each other, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about,” said Rea.
Doc(k) Day will be held April 6 at the Pinestone Resort and Conference Centre. Tickets are available for $10 per movie, $5 for student passes, or $30 for a VIP pass that includes entrance to all four documentaries. A wrap party begins at 9 p.m. Visit Haliburton-Movies.com, call 705-286-3696 or follow HIFF Haliburton International Film Festival & Dock Day on Facebook for more information or to buy tickets in advance.