ReFrame Film Festival: 20 Years of Docs

Madeleine, Raquel Sancinetti

The Role of Artmaking in Sparking Positive Change

The acclaimed social and environmental justice documentary film fest ReFrame celebrates 20 years January 25 – February 4, 2024 with over 60 films for its first-ever fully hybrid festival. The in-person component of ReFrame 2024 will be hosted in downtown Nogojiwanong/Peterborough, ON from January 25 – 28. Immediately following the in-person experience, a selection of the program will screen on-demand during the Virtual Festival, January 29 – February 4, and will once again be available from coast-to-coast-to-coast for a full week. ReFrame is committed to keeping the festival accessible, and has a PWYC option for every film. ReFrame ’24 celebrates the significance of the things we make by championing creative filmmaking and featuring documentaries that foreground the role of artmaking in sparking positive change.

Some films focus on the role of art objects in marking and connecting us to our histories. In Alive in Bronze, Sculptor Dana King’s hands and activist Fredrika Newton’s memories come together to build a new monument—a bust of Black Panther Party leader Huey P. Newton for the Oakland community that he loved and shaped. As the sculpture takes form, more than just a face is revealed. In Homecoming, filmmaker Suvi West seeks a connection with ancestors through old museum objects, eventually arriving at the collective pain points of the Sámi people.

The power of communicating through artmaking is further explored in Sew to Say, in which artist and banner-maker Thalia shares the untold story of the longest feminist protest in British history. In Dear Ani, a playful exploration of communication through artwork, follows Keith Wasserman who, for 25 years, made and delivered elaborate art mail packages – all in the hopes of befriending his muse.

Sew to Say, Rakel Aguirre

ReFrame also features several films that make use of animation and puppetry techniques in the crafting of compelling documentary art. These techniques allow artists to bring to life events lost to time, memories, dreams, abstract concepts and visceral experiences.

Documentaries like Feeling the Apocalypse use visual artistic language to explore and communicate complex emotional realities. The shadow puppetry of Shitty Little puts deforestation in stark terms while the felted stop-motion puppetry of Madeleine plays with the fuzzy lines of fantasy. The aesthetics of these material engagements are core to the visual storytelling of these films.

Aesthetics become even more significant in explorations of representation and identity. Closing night feature Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make Believe explores the significance of representation in children’s programming in a variety of ways, and pays special attention to Casey, brought to life by puppeteer Judith Lawrence. Casey became a gender-expansive icon for many young people over four decades.

Passes on Sale Now

Be sure to check out the 20th anniversary edition of ReFrame Film Festival! Festival-goers can purchase 3 types of passes this year: The In-Person Pass for $100, Virtual Festival Pass for $50 (a reduced selection of the films shown in person), and Hybrid Pass (full access to both), for $125. Pay-What-You-Can tickets for individual virtual films are available now, and will be available on a rush basis at Festival venues for in-person screenings. For more information and to purchase passes visit: reframefilmfestival.ca/festival/

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