The third annual DOCTalks festival takes place this weekend.
“The bottom line is to create community engagement,” said Lloyd Salomone, one of the founders of the DOCTalks Festival and Symposium, which takes place in Fredericton June 13-18, 2015. “Whether the topic is national or international in scope, there is usually someone from the local community who can relate directly to the topic.”
In 2013, Salomone, together with a small group of volunteers set out to create a forum for discussion based around documentary films. In three short years DOCTalks has grown from a “low key festival” into a wide-ranging forum for discussion. This year’s event includes 15 films that all relate to the people, places and history of Eastern Canada, as well as a symposium that will bring together filmmakers, academics and project funders for a series of workshops and presentations all based around encouraging the growth of community through visual storytelling.
Each of the film screenings scheduled for this year’s festival includes a panel discussion with the film’s producer or director as well as invited guests from the community who have an association to the film or topic covered.
“If you notice the films we have chosen, they’re not on a specific subject but instead cover a broad area of topics and subjects,” said Salomone. “The reason we do that is because we want to engage the community by covering topics that are important or relate directly to our region.”
The main themes for this year’s event are: Building Creative Communities Through Documentary Film and Academic Research Collaborations, and Strengthening Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Relationships.
Fredericton is unique among major New Brunswick centres. Having two major regional universities equates to a concentrated population of academics, each with a unique knowledge base. The organizers of DOCTalks hope to foster engagement between filmmakers and experts as a means of encouraging greater interaction and support for the knowledge industry.
“We are an industry,” said Salomone, who has developed and produced a number of documentary films. “We actually have intellectual property called films which we license and produce.”
“You can’t make a documentary without access to experts and/or their field work. As documentary filmmakers, we have always associated with them. DOCTalks is about connecting filmmakers with academics, and with the community. It’s about brining these groups together to help tell each other’s stories.”
With film and video dominating online activity as the principal means of telling stories, Salomone points out the importance of conversation, not only as a means of communication but also as a catalyst for developing new projects.
“The dialogue we try to promote is face-to-face,” he said. “We put people in a room to watch a film and then allow up to an hour for a discussion to take place following the screening. I think that’s important because we have to contextualize the world we live in.”
“As a community, if we don’t dialogue with each other, we’re lost. The biggest problem facing society right now are the silos we exist within. We never talk to people. There are a lot of people not voting because they really don’t understand what’s going on. There are whole segments of society that aren’t talking to other segments.”
Topics included on this year’s agenda of films span everything from history, identity, and sustainability, to education and collaboration.
All screenings are open to the public. Tickets and passes are available through the DOCTalks website along with a complete schedule of films and discussion activities.
With such a strong focus on community, discussion and interaction, DOCTalks is well on its way to becoming one of Fredericton’s most important annual events and a vital component in helping to share our stories with the rest of the world.
“Communication can’t only exist online. If you want a healthy community, we have to talk to each other.”