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DocFest is coming; musician to tutor students

By Tyler Renaud [1]

BELLEVILLE – Belleville is getting a shot of culture when it hosts its fourth annual DocFest [2] this upcoming February and March.

DocFest showcases more than 40 documentaries from half a dozen countries that reflect aspects of all our lives – like politics, the environment, social justice and sustainability, according to Gary Magwood, one of the people responsible for creating and continuing DocFest.

“I think this is important, because I believe as citizens we don’t really have access to the background information on so much that affects our lives – like the oil sands, social-justice issues, local farming (and) urban farming, to name a few,” said Magwood. “All things that affect our lives on a day-to-day basis but don’t get covered by mainstream media in depth.”

Why did Magwood’s team choose Belleville as opposed to a bigger city for DocFest?

“It’s a community that’s starting to attract folks from other centres that are looking for slightly less expensive accommodations – retirees, for example. This city was lacking, and still is, to some extent, an equivalent range of arts, culture and entertainment (that such newcomers might have had access to) in their previous city or town,” he said.

DocFest has already caught traction here in Belleville; the 2014 DocFest sold out two weeks before the event took place, according to Magwood.

“That says to me there’s a need or want in the community for more than a rock ‘n’ roll band at you local bar,” he said. “It also indicates to me that there’s a hunger for more information about our lives.”

DocFest has spun off three groups dedicated to bettering the community, thanks to one particular documentary presented at each of the three previous festivals. Those documentaries motivated the creation of the Bay of Quinte Water Keepers, Occupy our Hearts [3] and three community gardens in Belleville.

Each year DocFest premieres at least two Canadian-made documentaries. There is also one high-profile film to kick off the festival.

“This year we will premiere Keep On Keepin’ On, which highlights the relationship between 93-year-old jazz legend Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin,” Magwood said. Kauflin, he explained, is a 23-year-old piano prodigy who is blind and suffers from extreme stage fright. The documentary shows Terry, a trumpeter, deciding to mentor him, then dealing with worsening health as Kauflin is invited to an elite jazz competition. Suspense is created as the audience wonders how Kauflin will perform without his mentor.

Kauflin himself will be in Belleville and will perform following the screening, Magwood said. He will also participate in workshops with music students from Centennial Secondary School.

Such involvement with the community “is what DocFest is all about to me,” said Magwood.

DocFest tickets are available at the Quinte Arts Council office, Sweet Escape Coffee Emporium and Barratt’s Office Pro in Belleville and at the Grind Coffee Shop in Trenton. More information is available at the festival website here [2].