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NorthwestFest has all the best docs

You'll soon be talking about Eddy's Kingdom and other great documentaries that are coming to the big Metro Cinema screen for NorthwestFest starting Thursday.



Runs from Thursday, Nov. 5 to Sunday, Nov. 15

Ticket prices range up to $15 each, while flex passes are $40 and an All-Access Pass is $75

Metro Cinema is located in the Garneau Theatre, 8712 109 St. in Edmonton

The theatre is limited to 100 seats per screening to allow for sufficient distancing and safety precautions

SpiderMable and King Eddy are coming to the big screen – finally – as NorthwestFest recovers from its springtime "pandemic pause" and is turning the power on the projector for a 10-day stretch starting Thursday at Metro Cinema.

The timing actually couldn't be better, since it also paves the way for another film fest that will piggyback it before it finishes.

"Because we also run the Rainbow Visions Film Festival every November, we already had time booked at Metro. We just basically needed to know if they had some additional days that we could get, which they did. So instead of cancelling outright, we decided to postpone," explained fest program director, Guy Lavallee.

A mini version of the NorthwestFest was still held online in May with much success. This week, the full version arrives and it is a doozy. The documentary film extravaganza promises to offer enough extraordinary real stories to give everyone a reason to put Netflix to rest.

On top of all that, you're virtually assured as safe a night out at the movies as one could expect during a pandemic. A full sanitizing clean will take place in between each screening, which is why Lavallee was confident enough to open the doors once more.

"We knew that our partnership with Metro Cinema was intact and that they were able to open and they even took some additional time from the time the province gave the go-ahead so they could really put a lot of protocols in place," he continued, noting that was the real key to seal the deal for a proper fest in a theaterhouse.

"We just wanted to concentrate on putting on the theatrical in-person festival experience. They've got it down to a science now anyway because they've been open since July. They've done a really good job of taking it super, super seriously, and it's been working because they've been actually getting really good crowds at Metro."

Here are some highlights.

SpiderMable makes the scene

Speaking of good crowds, there must be a ton of superfans just waiting for SpiderMable to make her triumphant debut on the big screen. It's the incredible true  story of Edmontonian Mable Tooke (wait ... does that reveal her secret identity?) whose battle against leukemia caught public attention and social media glory in 2015 when she was only 6. The Children's Wish Foundation granted her the chance to fight crime with Spider-Man, during which she rescued Mayor Don Iveson and then Oilers captain Andrew Ference, and later trained at West Edmonton Mall. She won everyone's hearts and also won her battle against cancer. She had her last chemotherapy treatment that same year. Undoubtedly, her story will inspire others who need a lift as they undergo their own battles.

A toast to SNFU frontman

As punk lovers said good-bye to the late Ken Chinn this year, NorthwestFest will play an encore screening of St. Albert native Sean Patrick Shaul’s 2009 debut film on the legendary SNFU frontman. Open Your Mouth and Say ... Mr. Chi Pig is a loving yet unflinching look at the distinctive personality and the difficult life that shaped some formative music for many future rockers. It plays on Friday.

Ever hear of Eddy Haymour?

If you haven't yet, then you soon will, and things will never be the same.

Director Greg Crompton brings Eddy's Kingdom, an impressively professional and engaging documentary about Eddy Haymour. The Edmonton man is known variously as one of this country's greatest immigrant success stories, an incredible entrepreneur and a dreamer who made things happen. He's also considered to be Canada's first terrorist who also took his children to Lebanon without their mother's knowledge or permission.

He once bought Rattlesnake Island in Okanagan Lake and was thwarted by the B.C. government in his attempt to turn it into a cross-cultural theme park with a mini-golf course, a replica of the Great Pyramid at Giza and a giant concrete camel-shaped ice cream shack.

Haymour's life story should be turned into a movie because a documentary already seems too incredible to be true. This probably will be the one movie that baffles as many people as it mesmerizes, possibly even infuriates. You'll never stop talking about him.

"That's what I hope. I certainly hope people keep talking about it. That was kind of the goal for sure. Not be silent at the end," Crompton explained.

He knew he had to tell the story both because of its fantastic nature and because not many people knew about him. Eddy was very interested, too, as he seems like someone who likes to get more people to know about him. He has a complex and astounding personality that in one breath could be entirely sympathetic and admirable and, in another breath, sociopathic and utterly self-centred, who holds little regard for others in his pursuit of his own dreams.

It has already played at film fests including Hot Docs to much acclaim and bewilderment.

"It was exactly what I had hoped – you know, people ... just wanted to talk about Eddie and were conflicted about Eddie, and kind of were going off of what he had done and what he had tried to do, and the story itself," Crompton said. "People always ask me, 'Well, what do you think of it?' And I don't know – I'm still like, I don't know if I'm on the fence to certain things that I certainly have an opinion on. But overall, I was really gratified that people were really engaged and just really want to chat about it."

Haymour lives in Edmonton and will be in attendance at the screening.

The great docs continue

There's too much to summarize all, so you'll have to just check it all out for yourself in the program guide on NorthwestFest's website.

Some of the standouts among the rest of the crowd include:

I am Greta (the story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg);

Wake Up (a powerful film that interweaves stories from four different frontlines of suicide prevention across the U.S.);

Pandora's Box (a look at how women have historically been shamed, ostracized, silenced, and otherwise discriminated against because of their menstrual cycles, making this a central issue in the struggle for gender equality);

No Visible Trauma (a troubling examination of how the Calgary Police Service shoots and kills more people than officers in any other Canadian city);

Martha: A Picture Story (a biopic look at photographer Martha Cooper who captured some of the first images of subway graffiti in 1970s New York and became an unexpected icon of the street art world; and

The Condor and The Eagle (follows four Indigenous environmental leaders on a trans-continental adventure to unite the peoples of North and South America and deepen the meaning of “Climate Justice”).

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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