• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Canadian filmmakers turn their lens on the world


Village chiefs before a mediation session in the Democratic Republic of Congo during filming of In Pursuit of Peace.

The Hudson Canadian Film Festival will feature a number of movies by homegrown talents this year, including Searching for Dragons directed by Dan Gainsford, and co-produced by Forbes Campbell; both filmmakers who grew up in Hudson.

Fade in on a typical office space crammed with cubicles. The words, "This is a story about purpose," appear on the screen as we hear a phone ring over typical background office noise and chatter. An answering machine picks up: "Hi. You've reached Dan Gainsford. I'm not at my desk right now. Please feel free to leave me a message, but there's a good chance I'm never coming back!" So begins Dan Gainsford's five-year trek between the Arctic and Panama.

"I would call it a visionquest for North American society as we look to the challenges ahead of us," says Campbell. "We're trying to spark inspiration in people all around us." Campbell spent six months on the road with Gainsford during filming.

Gainsford who used to work in the financing sector of the film industry quit his job to work on this film. "I was unhappy at my job. Being under fluorescent lights all day, working in a cubicle farm; it just didn't work for me. I had to make a change. I was questioning the entire reality we were living in."

A feature-length documentary, Searching for Dragons takes a contemplative look at our post-industrial age society and the issues we are facing. Gainsford obtained financing from the Canada Council for the Arts and other sources, including some crowdfunding sites, to produce the film. The screening at the Hudson Film Festival will be the North American premiere. You can see the trailer on YouTube at tinyurl.com/gv6jpc8.

The Hudson Film Festival will also feature award-winning filmmaker Garry Beitel's latest movie, In Pursuit of Peace. The feature-length film documents the efforts of four peacekeepers and mediators to save civilian lives in war-torn countries where the innocent are much too often the most numerous victims of armed conflicts on any scale.

The idea behind the film was suggested by a producer at the National Film Board, according to the producer, Barry Lazar. What followed was a series of trips to some of the most dangerous areas around the globe to interview and film several peacekeepers working to find alternatives to armed conflicts. "Canada at one time was a world leader in the Blue Berets, and there are individual Canadians who have been inspired by our legacy and who are involved with international organisations to resolve conflicts," Lazar says.

These mediators interface with both sides involved in the conflicts they are helping to resolve. It's a high-risk job. "I think it's really extraordinary," says Lazar. "It's easy for us to say what is right and what is wrong. The approach is that you need to understand your enemy. It's a long-term process. It can take decades."

The film will be featured in several festivals following its screening at the Hudson Canadian Film Festival. It will also be broadcast by Radio-Canada and distributed abroad by the National Film Board. You can see the preview online at vimeo.com/150351138.