After being forced to cancel their 2020 film festival due to COVID, Stronger than Fiction is back for 2021 in a slightly different format, starting 25 April 2pm at Dendy Canberra with a screening of the Oscar-nominated Chilean film The Mole Agent.
The Canberra documentary film festival will run throughout 2021 as a monthly series.
A screening will take place toward the tail end of each month through until October/November.
“We see it as cinema in small sips,” festival director Deborah Kingsland told Canberra Weekly.
“With a lot of us spending time binge watching films over Covid, what people really want is community and that’s what we can offer.”
And it appears people are taking Kingsland up on that; two weeks out from their first screening, she reports they have “already sold more tickets than we’ve ever sold prior to a screening at this stage”.
“It seems people are quite keen to come back,” she said.
While Q&A’s will take place throughout the 2021 festival series where possible, the screening of The Mole Agent will be without one, due in part to director Maite Alberdi being preoccupied with The Oscars award ceremony taking place the next day.
“She’s probably a bit busy lobbying for her film,” Kingsland smiled.
The Mole Agent sees 83-year-old man, “geriatric gumshoe” Sergio, hired by a private detective agency to pose as a resident in a Chilean nursing home to see if he can find signs of abuse.
“We chose The Mole Agent as our first film because it really spoke to us, at this time, because it’s about trying to make connections,” said festival co-director, Hannah de Feyter.
While the whole Stronger than Fiction 2021 program is yet to be confirmed, the May screening will be of 2020 American documentary Mayor, following Musa Hadid, the mayor of Ramallah, the de facto capital of Palestine, for two years.
Screening toward the end of May, with the exact date and time still to be confirmed, Kingsland described it as a “most extraordinary”, “lovely, gentle” film that “doesn’t duck the issues” but addresses them in “a very human way”.
“It’s a really, really interesting take on the whole story,” she said.
Since announcing the festival would be back, Kingsland said the support from both sponsors and festival-goers has been overwhelming.
“There are many wonderful people I’ve met through Stronger than Fiction; I look forward to seeing them again and making new friends.
“What’s really lovely is our sponsors have come back on board, they just signed up without question,” she said.
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