Reel Stories moves to a new date this year with expanded programming. The mid-winter mini film festival features 10 documentaries and/or dramas inspired by true events and real people.
BFF director Claudine Benoit said the biggest challenge for the programming committee was choosing which films to feature.
“We all love documentaries so the challenge is narrowing it down,” she said. “Reel Stories is documentary fact-based films and the majority are going to be documentaries but we will have two feature films based on true stories.”
Many of the films are already multi-award winners and that includes two feature films. Stan and Ollie tells the true story of Laurel and Hardy, Hollywood’s greatest comedy duo of the early 1950s and The Silent Revolution, a German film, is about a group of Grade 6 students who decide to show their solidarity with the victims of the 1956 Hungarian uprising by staging a minute’s silence during lessons.
The 10 films represent six countries: Australia, Canada, USA, Germany, United Kingdom, and Israel. Themes range from dedication to exploration, passion, bravery, family, and social justice. Some are thought-provoking and inspiring while others tug at the heart.
One of the most popular films is expected to be Free Solo (USA). It’s already a hit, as one of four top documentaries at the box office in 2018. It’s also won 10 awards including the People’s Choice (audience award) for Best Documentary 2018 at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Free Solo follows Alex Honnold as he becomes the first person ever to climb Yosemite’s 3,000ft high El Capitan Wall without any ropes or safety gear.
Two documentaries are sure to tug the heart. Pick of the Litter follows lab puppies over a two year period as they train to become Guide Dogs for the Blind while Muhi – Generally Temporary centers on a Palestinian boy, confined to an Israeli hospital with a life-threatening immune disorder and he is unable to return home.
“You’ll fall in love with this little boy and his grandfather who stays with him and the people in the hospital – it’s an incredible story,” said Benoit.
Two additional films set in the 1950s are My Mother’s Letters (letters the filmmaker’s mother wrote in the 1950s) and The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (Anne Innis Dagg, at 23 years old made her unprecedented solo journey to South Africa in 1956).
In one of the more unique films of the festival, The World Before Your Feet, Matt Green has been walking every block of every street in New York City, more than 8,000 miles. Even he can’t explain why but it becomes an unexpected journey of discovery, humanity, and wonder.
Australia’s Gurrumul is a portrait of an indigenous, multi-instrumentalist singer who was born blind and achieved international acclaim before he died at the age of 46.
Bathtubs Over Broadway is an audience favourite about Late Night comedy writer Steve Young, who, while gathering material for the show, stumbled on some vintage record albums that changed his life.
Reel Stories runs February 21-24, 2019 at the Uptown Theatre, 55 Dunlop St. W., downtown Barrie. Tickets are $10 each. For more see https://barriefilmfestival.ca/festivals/reel-stories.
Photo credit: Free Solo: Alex Honnold making the first free solo ascent of El Capitan’s Freerider in Yosemite National Park, CA. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)