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UWO greets CBC documentaries
By Matt Pearson
Television is coming to life at Western.
Janice Ward, CBC Newsworld's director of special projects, said the station has brought a series of Canadian documentaries to Western for screenings last night and tonight, at Talbot College.
The festival, which has already made appearances at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto and Carleton University in Ottawa, aims to introduce new audiences to contemporary documentaries, Ward said. "It's a great way to show these films to audiences in a new way and also to showcase Canadian filmmakers," she said, adding the tour also makes the films interactive by allowing the audience to converse directly with the makers.
Ward said this is the first time CBC Newsworld has taken its documentaries on the road and in her eyes, it fits into the currently increasing interest in the documentary form. "Documentaries are hot right now," Ward said. "Canadians have a history of being the best documentary makers and it's something we're very proud of."
Filmmaker Leslie Cote, whose documentary about eating disorders, Through Thick and Thin, will be shown tonight at 7 p.m., agreed. But Cote said she was particularly impressed with CBC Newsworld for undertaking the project. "This initiative has been spearheaded by CBC Newsworld to reach out beyond its viewership and go to various venues across the country," she said.
"This was their idea and I couldn't be happier, because I think they're trying to bring [these documentaries] to different communities. There's an intention in developing an interest in Canadian filmmakers," Cote said.
As for the nature of documentaries, Cote said they are an important way to tell stories. "[Documentaries are] a great medium for giving people a voice without creating drama. Documentaries let the drama unfold naturally," she explained, adding the response to her film has been gratifying.
"It's been thrilling. Every audience is so different and the responses have been very impassioned and emotional. I make films to challenge people with the subject matter I'm presenting," she said.
Michael Zryd, a professor in Western's film studies program, said he felt documentaries are sometimes easily marginalized within the film world. "Documentaries tend to get 'ghetto-ized' as an experience you see only on public television and it's usually seen as a painful experience," he said.
Zryd also noted taking the documentaries on tour allows them to be exposed to a wider audience. "Bringing [the documentaries] on the road means larger audiences can see them. I applaud [CBC] Newsworld for bringing them here," he said.
CBC Newsworld's series, Documentaries on the Road, will be held at Talbot College (Rm. 141) tonight, beginning at 7 p.m.. There is no admission charge, but reservations should be made in advance by calling 1-888-DOC FEST.