The poster of the Unbound Film Festival. Photo: Vanessa Lozecznik

The poster of the Unbound Film Festival. Photo: Vanessa Lozecznik

Diversity, mental health and addiction the focus of new Kootenay film program and festival

8 participants will receive free hands-on lessons on filmmaking from various experts in the industry to help produce a film that contributes to discussions surrounding mental health, diversity and addiction

Kootenay Gambling Support and the Kootenay Film Society have partnered to create a program that will see eight participants receive free hands-on lessons on filmmaking from various experts in the industry, where the end goal is to have the participants produce a film that contributes to discussions surrounding mental health, diversity and addiction.

“As an immigrant myself, I feel like we need to expand the discussions about diversity,” said Vanessa Lozecznik of Kootenay Gambling Support. “ There’s a lot of the stigma around addiction, and this gives an opportunity to bring up discussions on a higher level. For mental health, it’s a beautiful opportunity to explore that too.”

No matter the experience level, participants are invited to create a short documentary, animation, fiction or non-fiction film that shines a light on any of the subjects mentioned above.

One virtual workshop will be hosted each month from April to October, with each lesson lasting around eight to 12 hours. In total, there will be six workshops: storytelling, directing, cinematography, sound recording, editing and animation.

“Participants are going to basically take a crash course — like a two-year diploma in six months — for free, and are going to get a really solid introduction to filmmaking,” said Mark Wolfe, one of the co-founders of the Kootenay Film Society.

Wolfe will be facilitating the cinematography workshop, as well as an editing workshop alongside Kerry McArthur, who will instruct the storytelling and directing lessons. Jason Deatherage will be responsible for the sound recording workshop, while Richard Reeves and Perry Ditzler will be in charge of the animation portion of the program.

“Because we’re holding them once a month, each instructor will have the month to help each participant actually work on their projects after the workshop itself,” said Wolfe.

At the conclusion of the program, the films produced by participants will be screened at the inaugural Unbound Film Festival here in town in November.

Registration for the program has already started and is open to people of all ages and backgrounds. During the application process, applicants are required to answer a variety of questions, such as how they will contribute to the conversation about diversity, mental health and addiction.

“I think the potential is really there to open up a space for discussion and dialogue of subjects and experiences that people have that may not otherwise get told,” said Wolfe. “Film festivals play that very important role of bringing films to people who otherwise would not see these films or hear these stories.”

While the festival would highlight stories on diversity, mental health and addiction, Wolfe added that the program will also put filmmaking into more people’s hands.

“It fulfils our mandate at the Kootenay Film Society of promoting film. It’s production, awareness of film and it’s enjoyable,” he said. “For us, it’s a natural fit. It’s a natural extension of what we conceive our mandate to be.”

Registration closes at the end of March. Those interested in participating in the program are asked to contact Lozecznik at, or fill out an application here.

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