The ReFrame Film Festival has a simple and direct mission statement.

“To build strong, sustainable, and engaged community audiences for film and art that explore and document issues of human rights and social justice, from the local to the global; to use film and art to provide educational opportunities and encourage activism and thoughtful debate.”

This was my first year covering and attending the film festival in Peterborough, and it was an experience that reaffirmed my love for this little town. Throughout the event, Arthur was able to make it to four films: Someone is Weaving, National Bird, Window Horses, and Obit. It seemed each film was more gripping than the last, and rest assured, there will be dedicated reviews released online for a couple of the most interesting films later this week.

However, what makes ReFrame so special is that it is not only about the films. During this three day event, there were circus performances, panel discussions, meet and mingle events after select films where patrons could ask filmmakers questions on their experiences while creating their project. One such case was for the film Someone is Weaving, where we are introduced to an elderly woman living in the tiny village of Nashalj, Iran, who busies herself by knitting a traditional shoe called a giveh. After a screening of this short film documentary Friday evening at Showplace, Iranian filmmaker Leila Khalilzadeh took the stage and answered a few questions from the audience. During this time, Leila divulged some behind-the-scenes information about the film and filled the audience in on what it was like filming in her native country of Iran, along with qualms with one of the producers before letting him go, and all with a very limited handle on the English language!

Special mention must also be given to Brett Alton and Joe Andrus for creating a very captivating logo and website for this year’s festival. This image depicts film equipment packed into a canoe and floating on a body of water, a very fitting and representative theme for Peterborough and the famous Kawartha cottage country we are gatekeepers to—although it does make summer months seem like an eternity away.

In addition to panel discussions, and circus acts, the ReFrame festival also hosted a benefit for Standing Rock on Saturday evening. The event was held at Market Hall and offered musical performances, spoken word, and poetry performed by the Words on Fire Youth Poets. Tickets were $10 and all proceeds went towards the protestors at Standing Rock. This benefit is one of the many ways the festival has kept true to their roots in ensuring the community is put forth as the number one priority. With the Nogojiwanong area home to many Indigenous people, the strife that those in Standing Rock are facing is an issue that hits home to a large number of us here.

As for the crowd, its excitement was palpable at times. People scrambled for a good seat to settle in for the next couple hours, with beer, coffee, tea and a few snacks in hand; organizers made sure people had all they needed to have a good time. Each film that I personally attended was packed with young and old from the Peterborough community, as well as many that had come from out of town for the opportunity to see some amazing films and take in the sights of Peterborough’s downtown. The streets were full, and the downtown core really was buzzing as people had the opportunity to shake off the winter blues of their day-to-day for the weekend, and expose themselves to some extremely thought provoking films. The parking lots of the Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson were full of visitors, and the full magnitude of how healthy this festival is, not only for the community, but also the economic welfare of Peterborough settled in as guests packed restaurants and tourist attractions between films. Arthur had the opportunity to talk to a group of guests and ask them what their experience of Peterborough was.

“This is our third year coming to ReFrame,” said Andrea Moore just after seeing Window Horses at Showplace with her husband and sister, who were visiting from Mississauga. “After we came the first year, we absolutely fell in love with the town and the atmosphere that Peterborough and Reframe gives off. We will certainly be back next year.”

As the 13th annual ReFrame Festival came to a close, we can only wish the organizers good luck, in ensuring the festival remains a staple in the Peterborough community for another 13 at least.