Doc fest moves to Lunenburg Opera House


by Evan Bower (LighthouseNOW)

The best view of Bluenose II has always been the Lunenburg waterfront, but an historic theatre a few blocks uphill is about to give it a run for its money.

“Bluenose: The Legend Lives,” a documentary on the schooner featuring musical performances by homegrown talent such as Joel Plaskett, is one of the featured films at this year’s Lunenburg Doc Fest.

Pamela Segger, executive director of the festival, says the film will be a fitting celebration of the town paired with their new venue, the recently restored Lunenburg Opera House.

“We’re very excited to screen a new documentary about Nova Scotia’s most iconic vessel, and it’s going to be fabulous on the big screen,” said Segger. “And it’s extra special because, of course, we’re her home port.”

The festival will take place from September 22 to 25.

The closing of the Pearl Theatre over the winter initially left the festival searching for a new home. Organizers originally planned to move into the Lunenburg Community Centre, but the Opera House offered a smoother transition into a theatre setting.

“I think it’s a really special venue, because it does have that rich heritage and rich culture behind it,” said Segger. “It’s obviously a theatre setting, the only one available to community organizations, and along with that it does have that great ambiance.”

Rounding out the lineup is “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” a documentary about the prolific poet, singer and activist, “Bluefin,” a study of the effect sustainable fishing is having on the tuna population in North Lake, P.E.I., and “Obit,” a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most underrated journalists around, obituary writers.

On Sunday afternoon, films made by the festival’s youth and seniors’ workshops will see their debut.

The final featured films of the festival are still being announced.

Hot Docs, the organization behind North America’s largest documentary film festival, is also heading to town to take part in the festival.

Program director Elizabeth Radshaw will present “When Did Docs Get So Hot?” on the afternoon of September 24, a TEDx style talk that explores people’s connection to film.

She’ll be joined by people from the CBC and the National Film Board earlier that day for The Doc Market, a free event where they’ll offer one-on-one to advice to local filmmakers.

The festival will be Hot Docs’ first visit to the Atlantic provinces in about five years, says Segger, and helps round out the industry-based activities in the festival that have grown each year.

“Starting off, we didn’t intend to offer an industry component, but we had such great feedback and attendance by local filmmakers that it incited us to explore that avenue as well,” said Segger.

The closing of the Pearl Theatre was a blow to festival planners, but it was also an opportunity for a fresh start.

With a number of Atlantic films in the lineup, a new venue and an extra day in the schedule, Segger says this year’s festival is about harnessing that new energy in its move to Old Town.

“It’s just a great spot, to be in the heart of Lunenburg, where everyone can walk about between screenings … go out for a meal or go for a sail or do something,” said Segger. “It’s really a great location.”

FRI, Sept 23 @ 9pm
Lunenburg Opera House