Photo by Natelie Herault for Reframe Film Festival 2019.

Reframe Film Festival has been lighting up Peterborough’s screens during the darkest time of the year, and this year marked its 15th consecutive festival. Reframe Film Festival is a platform aiming to build strong, sustainable, and engaged community audiences through art that explores and documents issues of human rights and social justice. Reframe celebrates film and art, raising awareness of issues both locally and globally: glocally. Reframe has been a major event in the city and surrounding area, achieving these goals annually through educational programs for children and youth, showcasing community art at exhibitions, performances, and food markets showcasing the flavours of Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.

This year, Reframe’s staff did tremendous work at curating the festival and making it a reality. Festival director Jay Adams, creative director Amy Seigel, technical coordinator Lester Alfonso, financial controller Michael Goede, and graphic designer Joe Andrus were some of the valuable people that allowed Reframe to be possible this year, hosting a successful and powerful opening night of the festival on Thursday January 24 at Showplace.

Julia Harrison, chair of the Reframe board, started off the night at Showplace with opening remarks, introducing prominent Indigenous community members, including elder Shirley Williams. These women greeted the audience and spoke words of gratitude, good faith and prayer, starting off the festival on a calming, peaceful and kind note. They also asked the audience to join them in singing the Water Song, a harmony that expresses gratitude to water: to life. With gratitude for water and life, it was a suitable transition to the first film screening that urges us to take care of them.

Reframe’s opening night screened a phenomenal film to start off the festival, by award-winning filmmaker Slater Jewell-Kemker. The filmmaker is a former Peterborough Collegiate Vocational School (PCVS) alumnus, and currently resides just outside of the city borders on a farm, in a house she built herself. Jewell-Kemker’s film Youth Unstoppable: The Rise of the Global Youth Climate Movement documents the youth movement against climate change, telling the stories of people around the world, and the fight to take action against climate change. The documentary film accounts her journey as a young teen becoming aware of the issues of climate change, and the pursuit of placing the future in the hands of people of the future: youth.

Jewell-Kemker takes the audience around the world over 10 years of filming. Beginning at a United Nations conference in Japan, she quickly realizes that youth were not included in the conversation around climate change. Continuing in Copenhagen, Denmark, Jewell-Kemker documents the 2009 Conference of the Parties (COPs) which falls under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These conferences are held annually to assess the programmes dealing with climate change, and to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol to establish legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Slater Jewell-Kemker answers questions after the screening of Youth Unstoppable at Reframe Film Festival’s opening ceremony. Photo by Natelie Herault for Reframe Film Festival 2019.

Not only does Jewell-Kemker show the struggle of young folks trying to fight climate change through action, but also shows just how members of the public suffer from the lack of action taken by nations worldwide. Visiting a friend that she met at a conference, Jewell-Kemker takes the audience to Nepal, where certain populations of Nepal were suffering on one end of the country due to floods of their fields, and on the other end due to droughts. By sharing her experience visually in Youth Unstoppable, Jewell-Kemker captures the audience and presents a real-life situation in which climate change causes suffering to people.

Through her film, she demonstrates the undervalued efforts of youth to take action against climate change. Throughout each conference, young activists were dismissed, and groups of youth would retract to their own conversations about what they can do to make a difference at these conferences, and have their plans of action considered in the conversation.

Arthur
had the pleasure of chatting with Slater on Arthur’s radio show “Arthur Hour” broadcasted through the facilities of Trent Radio, where the film was discussed prior to its screening. Slater highlights concerning thoughts on climate change that she shared with listeners:

“A lot of us realize it’s real and it’s happening now, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that came out in October if anything just heightened that, and a lot of the changes that we thought we’d see beyond 2050 with a two degree temperature rise have actually been found to happen at a 1.5 degree temperature rise in 2030, and we’re already at a one-degree temperature rise. We have less time than we did, and we have a lot of work to do, and it involves changing every aspect of the way that we live and relate to each other as people, and our relationship to the planet… making decisions on the kind of food that you eat, you know the agricultural industry just overtook the fossil fuel industry in terms of emissions and general destruction of natural resources … it is overwhelming and scary, and it’s hard to talk about, but if we make this into an opportunity where we can change everything for the better in order to survive, in order to actually have a world where we as humans can live in, so many of things we’ve dreamed about for generations and centuries can be achieved. We need to care about each other more, and we also need to vote and make sure that the people representing us and our leaders have our best interest in mind… we have a lot more power than we attribute to ourselves.”

Reframe’s opening night was a spectacular night, and a solid representation of what the whole festival is about. Youth Unstoppable was the first of many films over the weekend that began the informative and eye opening journey that the festival entails in inspiring its audience of all ages to think, and be aware of the world around them, and what their contribution can be in working collectively together: to act locally, and think globally.