Doc Fest organizers pondering mid-year activities


Filmmakers and film enthusiasts may not have to wait long for another Lunenburg Doc Fest event.

While no decisions have been made yet, the board of directors is considering pulling together an activity that runs well before the next annual festival, which typically is in September.

"What we would love to do, again if we had the support to do it, or could find a way to fund it or cover it, is have a small, little film series," Pamela Segger, the executive director of the festival, told LighthouseNOW. "Perhaps, something, you know, once-a-week film, again online using the same service that we use for our festival."

She suggested a question-and-answer period with the filmmakers could perhaps accompany the films.

"That's something we'd love to do. But again, we are facing a shortfall from last year, so it's on the wish list. And of course we have a timeline to consider as we're already in January," Segger said.

The move follows the tremendous success - participation-wise - of the 2020 Lunenburg Doc Fest from September 24 to 30. The festival was relegated to an entirely online event because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while it fared less well than previous festivals on the financial side it had a record number of viewers participate.

Segger declined to reveal the amount of the shortfall, saying the board had not yet met to discuss it.

Meanwhile, the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage announced in December it was making available $913,526 in spending for 56 projects in the province to help the creative sector go digital during the COVID 19 pandemic. Of that, the Lunenburg Doc Fest is to receive $8,000.

"The impact of the creative sector has been enormous, and this funding is designed to help them continue to produce work, make a living and adapt to a world where much of the cultural sector has moved, at least temporarily, online," Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, the minister of communities, culture and heritage said in a December news release. Lohnes-Croft is also the MLA for Lunenburg.

According to Segger, the board had applied for the funds to help convert the festival "to a 100 per cent online event." Within the application, it also sought support to consider programming something mid-year. "So that we would all have a chance to come gather online again in mid-year, like at the end of February per chance," explained Segger.

While she emphasized it wouldn't be a festival as such, she said there might also be an "industry component," whereby the board hosts a professional development activity for Atlantic Canadian filmmakers.

Segger said the board is interested in doing this for the same reason it organizes the annual Lunenburg Doc Fest.

"Our mission is built around creating a place of connection for filmmakers and film enthusiasts. And also within our mission is to educate, inspire and entertain. And we have the ability, given our platform, to be able to do that. Again, it's about adding value to the community, about creating engagement, socialization in those ways," she said.

As for the future of the Lunenburg Doc Fest given the success and appeal of 2020's online event, which allowed organizers to engage with and showcase more filmmakers than ever, Segger said there have been some "initial discussions."

"Of course, things are still so much up in the air as far as the pandemic and the implications of that going forward," she added.

The organizers have yet to commit to a structure for the next festival, "however we see the value in always having a virtual component. And I can see, from a programming perspective, engagement perspective that that will very likely factor into future events. It opens up a lot of doors. You know, it does create opportunity," said Segger.

But the group is unlikely to abandon its in-person event if it can help it.

"Nothing replaces that in-person interaction. And all those spectacular things that come from that – the conversations, and the networking, and just the community building aspects of that," insisted Segger.

Thank you for printing this article from lighthousenow.ca. Subscribe today for access to all articles, including our archives!