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“Once Were Brothers” launches Lunenburg Doc Fest after historic TIFF premiere


Fresh off the world premiere and historic opening as the first ever Canadian documentary to open Toronto International Film Festival, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band will kick off the 6th annual Lunenburg Doc Fest on September 19. Once Were Brothers tells the story of the roots-rock act that changed folk music forever, drawing from the memoirs of Canadian rock icon Robbie Robertson and featuring must-see testimonial from musical legends Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Director Daniel Roher will take the stage in Lunenburg to launch the Atlantic Canadian premiere of the film.  

Every year, Lunenburg Doc Fest attracts film enthusiasts, international filmmakers, and respected industry decision-makers from near and far for four days of incredible stories on the big screen. Our charming seaside town will play host to some of the most exciting storytellers and anticipated documentaries in the world. The festival’s expanded program features an eclectic lineup -- here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store:

Unstoppable forces

At Lunenburg Doc Fest this year, three documentaries study large, seemingly unstoppable forces that are doing harm to our planet. Push investigates the hidden forces that are causing housing markets to skyrocket across the globe and forcing people out of our cities. Toxic Beauty is a powerful exposé of the cosmetics companies that are polluting our bodies with hidden toxins in the products we use every day. Assholes: A Theory is a search for civility in an age where everything from business to government seems to be overrun with, well, you know. 

Women vs. the world

What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object? This year’s fest will feature five documentaries about inspiring women who are living proof of the individual’s power to create change. Maxima introduces us to the Indigenous Peruvian woman who stood up to one of the largest gold-mining companies in the world. Conviction takes us inside the Canadian corrections institution to ask why women are the fastest-growing prison population worldwide. Maiden charts the journey of the first all-women crew to sail in the Whitbread Round the World Race with an indomitable 24 year-old at the helm. Beyond the Visible paints a moving portrait of Hilma af Klint, the visionary Swedish artist whose abstract works went unnoticed for 100 years. Closing the festival on September 22, Ask Dr. Ruth tells the story of Ruth Westheimer, the small but mighty Holocaust survivor who forever changed the way we talk about sex. 

Window to the world

Three of this year’s films take us to far off locales to see the world through another’s eyes. In The Odd Monk, we journey with first-time filmmaker Jesco Puluj through Europe, Africa and Asia as he meets the free-spirited monks who are changing the face of modern Buddhism. In Sea of Shadows, we voyage to the Sea of Cortez to discover a war at sea that’s threatening to eradicate the population of the world’s smallest whale. High in the French Alps, The Valley, a rousing call to action, places us on the Italy-France border with a group of migrants who are risking their lives on a mountain route to escape war, poverty and political persecution.

Close to home, Faces of Lyme, created by Lunenburg Doc Fest’s seniors workshop, gives a voice to those who struggle with the diagnosis and treatments for Lyme disease in our region.

Short film programs

Lunenburg Doc Fest is proud to present Through Our Eyes: Short Films by Indigenous Filmmakers, supported by CBC Docs. The program will feature five shorts from some of the most exciting, emerging Indigenous filmmakers from across the country, including Alexandra Lazarowich’s Fast Horse and TSHIUETIN by Caroline Monnet. Coast to Coast: Canadian Shorts will showcase a diverse selection of evocative works from all sides of nation. 

As always, Doc Fest will engage local youth with two screenings of Shorts from Around the World on the morning of September 20. The screenings are catered to Bluenose Academy students but admission is free and open to all. Dream Big will cap the family program with the impact and extraordinary marvels of modern day engineering. This year also marks the return of our Step Into the Story: Virtual Reality Arcade, an opportunity to get hands-on with VR hardware and discover how technology is changing the way stories are told.

Our passes sell out every year so hurry to

For a look at our complete 2019 schedule, visit


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