Photo by Beatrice Schuler


Once the domain of passionate young filmmakers hoisting around heavy camera equipment, documentaries have come of age.

Earlier this month the Lunenburg Doc Fest (LDF) group released another documentary produced by 11 seniors filming on their smart phones.

Their documentary, Wave Upon Wave, a Lunenburg Hodge Podge, is now appearing on the festival’s website and You Tube.

The LDF’s executive director, Pamela Segger, explains that when the LDF was applying for funding for the project through the federal government’s New Horizons for Seniors program, “we wanted to choose something that was provocative, timely and also very pertinent to our local area. ”

She notes that Lunenburg has a rich history of immigration and the recent number of Syrians moving into the area are helping to contribute to that.

The LDF’s website describes the 51-minute documentary as “the untold story of a complex community, forever caught between cultures and time, shaped by the Atlantic Ocean and the waves of peoples who have come to Lunenburg in search of a better life.”

It is the second project stemming from the LDF’s Seniors Workshops that were launched at the Doc Fest in 2016.

“[The first workshop] was a huge hit for the participants. And the resulting short films were very well received from quite a robust audience at the 2016 festival,” says Segger.

“We thought we should do a follow up. And we wanted to boost the challenge a little bit, so we came up with the idea of making the second seniors workshop project focus on a feature length documentary.”

As in 2016, the seniors workshop centered around the art of the interview. However, the 2017 film had an underlying theme – immigration.

Coming from a variety of backgrounds, including teachers and musicians, the 11 seniors aged 55 and over who participated in the free, multi-week workshop received instruction from two professional documentary mentors.

Yvonne Mosley, one of the mentors, is a veteran of multi-media and special event production with more than 40-years’ experience in film, television, stage and print, notes the LDF on its website.

“Using a variety of mediums from music to video much of Yvonne’s work of the past 20 years has focused on telling the often untold human stories specific to Maritime Canada, Canada’s Veterans, First Nations and French Canada.”

The other mentor, Dawn Harwood-Jones, worked as a CBC television producer for 20 years and co-founded Pink Dog Productions, which has produced videos for provincial and federal governments, business’, charities, and arts organizations.

“Recently Dawn has started teaching video production to people of all ages using smart phones,” notes the LDF’s website.

The workshop program, which received $20,000 in funding from the government, taught participants about the foundations of a good interview, said Segger.

“Not only conversationally, but technically. How do you light an interview? How do you use sound? How do you frame the person in the picture, so to speak? So you’re getting the interview from all angles.”

The seniors were advised how to use smart phones and related applications to film and process.

While the underlining theme was immigration, “the group brainstormed the story outline,” reports Segger.

“They came up with all kinds of subjects and people that they could focus on in this film. And they enhanced that by bringing in local experts.”

Among the interviewees are Peter Zwicker, a descendent of early German settlers, Alan Creaser, the operations director of Bluenose II whose family arrived in 1753, and Syrian refugees Omar and Aram Almutaq.

The documentary can be accessed on the Lunenburg Doc Fest website, or through this link: