Annual Lunenburg Doc Fest kicks-off Sept. 22


  • <p>FILE PHOTO</p><p>The ninth annual Lunenburg Doc Fest, featuring 80 documentaries, will be held Sept. 22-28.</p>

LUNENBURG – The ninth annual Lunenburg Doc Fest (Sept. 22-28) will kick-off Thursday (Sept. 22) with the opening night gala.

This year's theme of the gala will be, black and white. It will be held both inside and outside at the United Church Hall. The event will kick-off at 7 p.m. with the showing of the documentary, Buffy Saint-Marie: Carry It On. This will be followed by the gala itself that will feature dries, hors d'oeuvres, jazz music and some great conversation.

For tickets and for more information on the Doc Fest, go to www.lunenburgdocfest.com. A variety of ticket packages are available for this year's festival: festival pass (onsite and online); film pass; online pass and single tickets.

This year's Doc Fest, for the first time, is being held over seven days (previously it was just four), showing 80 documentaries. As last year, it will be a hybrid version with most films being able to be accessed online.


Thirty-five of the documentaries are feature length and come from across the globe. Pamela Segger, executive director and lead programmer of the event, said this year, there were 600 submissions to choose from.

A team of eight people go through every film, beginning in January, to choose what will be included in the event.

She says they always want to include a good representation of feature films and shorts from the Atlantic provinces. Other films that are chosen will cover a wide variety of topics such as arts, music, environmental, political and social issues.

She said there are not themes to the festivals, but they use one key word that unifies the programming, diversity, in all its forms.

Most of the films at the festival are making their debut in Atlantic Canada. As the festival is a hybrid version this year, Segger said that all documentaries, with the exception of four, will be available both online and in-person.


The Lunenburg Doc Fest is not only the largest documentary festival in Atlantic Canada, but it also hosts the largest documentary forum.

"In conjunction with the festival, we run a five-day conference and business market for film makers and screen industry decision makers," said Segger. "There's a whole professional side and a whole business meeting side to the event that takes place at a separate venue in town."

She adds that it's a key opportunity to meet potential production partners, sales distributors or to discover opportunities to collaborate.

Pre-registration for this event is required. The seventh annual event will take place online Sept. 22, 23 and 26 and on-site Sept. 24 and 25.


In late May, Doc Fest organizers introduced, The Launch: Documentary Development and Pitch Contest.

The initiative was funded by the Nova Scotia Creative Industries Fund. The winner will receive $20,000 in cash and in-kind film-making services and mentorship. They will make their documentary over the next year and will be shown at the 2023 edition, the 10th anniversary, of Doc Fest.

A committee has selected five contestants that have participated in two workshops last month to work on their story development and pitch preparation.

The contestants will then do their pitch on the afternoon of Sept. 24 in front of a live audience and jury of screen industry decision makers.

"The audience will have a chance to choose their own favourite as well and have a chance to win a prize package that will include a pass for next year's event," said Segger.

Winners will be announced later that evening.


Each year, the festival sells out of its 300 available passes. Over four days, at past events, about 4,500 people attend with the core audience coming from the South Shore.

Segger said that area residents make up about 75 per cent of the total audience. About 13 per cent coming from the Halifax Regional Municipality. The remaining 12 per cent come from outside of the province.

As well, there will be at least 15 directors, from across the globe, attending with their films being showcased at the event. They will be involved in question-and-answer periods after their films and the Dock Market as well.


A Meet the Filmmaker night will be held Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. at Lightship Brewery. The evening will give the audience a chance to meet the film makers and everyone is invited to this free event. The winner of the Launch competition will also be announced at this time.

As well, there will be a special musical performance happening Friday night, however, Segger said she would not reveal the performer.


The festival pays the screening fees for the films and awards available to be won are for: International Feature Documentary; Canadian Feature Documentary; Audience Award; Short Film Award and Atlantic Filmmaker Award.

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