By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman For the Lethbridge Herald on June 12, 2021.
The Lethbridge Living Film Festival is underway.
The online festival follows up the city magazine of the same name, which recently ceased publication due to the pandemic.
Lethbridge Living owner Dana Inkster says she was not done telling stories and with a background in filmmaking decided to explore other options.
“A film festival seemed like a really wise way to continue the Lethbridge Living tradition in the community, but in a way that it’s more affordable,” said Dana Inkster, festival director.
Originally the film festival was intended to be a live event at CASA with ticket purchases. But due to COVID-19 and the restrictions in place, it had to be changed to an online version.
“I thought, let’s use the technology available to us and maybe, just maybe, we will reach more people than we would have traditionally,” said Inkster.
Inkster has worked in the film industry in Canada and United States for 20 years, which helped her put together a small sample of films to showcase in the online festival free of charge. Through new partnerships with organizations like the National Film Board of Canada, PBS and independent producers, Lethbridge Living has found a diversified approach to sharing stories.
The Lethbridge Living Film Festival will showcase 14 documentary films about Alberta.
One of them is Arigato the short documentary about the ghost town bus tour led by George Takashima – who passed away in November 2020 – on behalf of the Nikkei Cultural Society of Lethbridge.
Another one worth noting is Life Out Here which is part of The Grassland Project, a project from the National Film Board of Canada to tell stories that were related to the Prairies. Life Out Here is about females running ranches.
“I think The Grasslands Project speaks most directly to our community and the experience of communities like Lethbridge,” said Inkster.
Inkster wanted to honour the culture, identities and contributions made by the Blackfoot community in the Treaty 7 territory and Lethbridge area, so she included two short documentaries that illustrates what our region and community was like 70 years ago, but also allows us to see how far we’ve come in terms of acknowledging the importance of the Blackfoot community.
Inkster said that having Cattle Country and Roundup by Narcisse Blood put side by side, helps us to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we have to go in terms of truth and reconciliation.
Inkster has directed films that appeared at Sundance and Toronto International Film Festival, so she is very familiar with the tradition of film festivals.
“This is just my way to see if I could bring the same knowledge and kind of programming to Lethbridge,” said Inkster.
Inkster hopes to have a hybrid version soon, and perhaps in 2022 have the opportunity to offer an in-person film festival, that involves more sponsors and traditional screenings. But to begin with, they are looking at this film festival to see how many people engage in these stories, to see if it’s a model for moving forward into 2022.
The Lethbridge Living Film Festival will run online until June 20 at https://www.emworkshop.ca/lethbridge-living-film-festival