For immediate release:
September 30, 2021

8th Lunenburg Doc Fest Wraps and Announces Award Winners

Lunenburg, NS
    Lunenburg Doc Fest presented a seven-day hybrid program with all films available online plus select in-person events from September 23 to 29. The festival included 21 feature films, seven short documentary programs, livestream filmmaker Q&As, onsite events, and a growing industry market. 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), a longstanding champion of Canadian creatives, joined the festival as presenting partner for the 8th edition and to launch an opening night social celebration on the town’s waterfront.

The festival introduced its first-ever ‘Docs on the Dock’ open-air screening on the harbour at Lunenburg’s Zwicker Wharf. A range of interactive and in-person screening events showcasing short documentaries by Atlantic Canadian filmmakers as well as non-English content were offered as free community events in the heart of UNESCO Lunenburg. 

Apenas El Sol (Nothing But The Sun) won the juried $1000 Best Feature Documentary Award. The film follows Mateo Sobode Chiqueno who has been recording stories, songs, and testimonies of his Ayoreo people since the seventies in an attempt to preserve fragments of a disappearing culture.

The jury remarked, “Firmly rooted in the moment but with a sense of both history and the future, Nothing But the Sun offers a window into the slow, seemingly inexorable assimilation of the Ayoreo people and their culture. This masterfully assembled film allows the viewer a rare inside perspective that reverberates long after the film has ended.”

Director Arami Ullón stated: “I received news of the award win while in Paraguay, during a very special time, when we are getting ready to bring the film to the Ayoreo Communities of the Paraguayan Chaco. It is a moment of encounter, a moment of celebration, a moment of tribute to the Ayoreo people. Thanks to Lunenburg Doc Fest;, thanks to the Jury. I am very humbled.” 

With Drawn Arms won the $1000 Audience Award. Directed by Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi, the feature-length documentary focuses on the 1968 Olympics and American former athlete Tommie Smith, who raised his fist during the medal ceremony — Adopted by generations of civil rights activists in the fight for social justice, the defiant gesture has reverberated ever since.

The award for Best Atlantic Filmmaker went to director Cody Westman whose feature-length documentary Hell Or Clean Water portrays what appears to be an impossible task and the Newfoundland diver, Shawn Bath, who has devoted himself to cleaning up the ocean floor one rotting tire at a time. 

The jury remarked, “Hell or Clean Water is beautiful and inspiring. The director Cody Westman takes us under the sea in a David and Goliath struggle against one of the major issues of the climate catastrophe, the pollution of the oceans. The jury is grateful for getting to know the central character Shawn Bath and is inspired by his story and the idea that by our actions we can each make a difference.” The Best Atlantic Filmmaker award is sponsored by DOC Atlantic and William F. Whites. 

Feelings of Invisibility, a short documentary by director Charmaine Kachibaia screened as part of the REFRAMED: The Ability In Disability program and won Best Short Film. Honourable mention goes to Haeberli, a German production by director Moritz Mueller-Preisser about one man’s right to self-will in his own town, his own house and his very own head. 

Feelings of Invisibility is an intimate portrait of Anne K. Abbott who was born with Cerebral Palsy and leads a life that will shake loose the assumptions and limitations we impose upon others. The jury stated, “Feelings of Invisibility is first-rate cinema storytelling. We meet Anne Abbott, a strong creative woman who defies harmful misconceptions of disability. The filmmaker Charmaine Kachibaia offers a unique vision with sophisticated imagery and narrative structure to take us on an intimate and compelling journey.” 

“I am endlessly grateful to Lunenburg Doc Fest for the opportunity to share Anne’s story with the world, and we are all so honoured to be recognized with this award!” remarked director Charmaine Kachibaia. “Thank you for continuing to prioritize film and art during this difficult time, it truly makes all the difference.”

The 2021 Lunenburg Doc Fest Awards jury included Francesco Capuano, Marcia Connolly, Caroline Christie, Bryan Glick, Leon Lee, Chris Metzler, and Darrell Varga.

With an expanded slate of industry events offered during The Dock Market, September 23-27, Doc Fest played online host to international filmmakers and thirty-five industry experts including decision-makers from Bell Media, CBC Docs, Canadian Media Fund, Corus Entertainment, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, RBC, Sheffield Doc Fest, Sundance Film Festival, Super Channel, Taskovski Films, Telefilm, and more. 

Executive director Pamela Segger stated, “Lunenburg Doc Fest was thrilled to spotlight an international selection of documentaries from a record number of submissions this year and to share those films with audiences across North America. We thank the many talented filmmakers, generous sponsors, industry partners, and local community for making the eighth Doc Fest a great success.”

Lunenburg Doc Fest looks forward to returning for its ninth edition in September 2022.

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Lunenburg Doc Fest showcases documentary films that entertain, educate, and inspire, creating a cultural experience and place of connection between filmmakers and film enthusiasts in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. 

The festival is presented with generous support from Canadian Heritage, The Government of Canada, Telefilm Canada, and Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage, and festival partners 2K, Bluenose100, CBC, Eastlink, HB Studios, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival, Narrative Research, Outpost East, and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). 

For more information contact Nancy MacDonald at:

Phone:        902-523-3456
Mail:             Box 1497, Lunenburg, NS  B0J 2C0  Canada
Twitter:       @LunenburgDocFes
Instagram: @LunenburgDocFest