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Reel Stories

February 5-7, 2016
Barrie Uptown Theatre, 55 Dunlop Street West, Barrie
Tickets: $10

Discover extraordinary things about the world from this thought-provoking weekend of films which includes documentaries and dramas inspired by true events and real people. In its twelfth year and partnering with the City of Barrie’s “Winterfest”, Reel Stories screens 7 films over three days at Uptown Theater during the first weekend of February.


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Screening Schedule:

Friday, February 5
4:00 pm – He Named Me Malala
7:00 pm – Al Purdy Was Here

Saturday, February 6
2:00 pm – He Named Me Malala
4:00 pm – Life
7:00 pm – Mavis!
9:00 pm – Al Purdy Was Here

Sunday, February 7
2:00 pm – Peggy Guggenheim:
Art Addict
4:00 pm – Trumbo
7:00 pm – Unbranded

Tickets are available at Uptown Theatre for the remainder of the festival located at 55 Dunlop Street West, Barrie. Box office opens one hour before first screening of the day.


Al Purdy Was Here poster_250

Al Purdy Was Here

Screening: Friday, February 5 at 7:00 pm
Saturday, February 6 at 9:00 pm

Directed by: Brian D. Johnson

With: Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, Sarah Harmer, Katherine Leyton, Michael Ondaatje, Eurithe Purdy and Tanya Tagaq

Documentary, Rated PG, 92 min. (Canada)

An icon of English Canadian letters, the late Al Purdy was equal parts rock star, raconteur, and rabble-rouser — in other words, all poet. Coming to prominence in the 1960s alongside a crop of other extraordinary talents (including Leonard Cohen, Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and Michael Ondaatje), Purdy scorned the tired tales of rural life that had dominated Canadian literature and set out to create a different language, one that came from the contemporary Canadian experience. Purdy’s impact on Canadian culture has now been lovingly detailed in this fine new documentary by Brian D. Johnson, the former film critic for Canada’s weekly news magazine Maclean’s. Al Purdy Was Here artfully combines archival footage — including some of Purdy’s priceless television appearances, where he played the eccentric contrarian with everyone from Adrienne Clarkson to William F. Buckley, Jr. — with readings and reminiscences from Purdy’s friends and colleagues, as well as performances from such musicians as Bruce Cockburn, Tanya Tagaq, and Sarah Harmer, who set Purdy’s words to music. What emerges is a far more complex portrait of Purdy than was suggested by his public persona as the boisterous lover of booze, brawls, and verse, immortalized in his best-known poem “At the Quinte Hotel.” While Johnson does not skimp on anecdotes about Al’s delightful debauches, the Purdy he presents is a diligent, hard-working writer, and one of the first in English Canada who was actually able to make a living off his work. Underlying the whole of Johnson’s affectionate elegy, and investing it with a sense of urgency, is the realization that the fiercely proud cultural nationalism that Purdy embodied has not been seen in Canada for decades — and perhaps never will be again.

Watch the trailer here!

He Named Me Malala ptr_250

He Named Me Malala

Screening: Friday, February 5 at 4:00 pm
Saturday, February 6 at 2:00 pm

Directed by: Davis Guggenheim

With: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Khushal Yousafzai, Atal Yousafzai

Documentary, Rated PG for thematic elements involving disturbing images and threats, 87 min. (USA)

HE NAMED ME MALALA is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for Superman) shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. The film gives us an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young girl’s life – from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life with her parents and brothers.

Watch the trailer here!


Screening: Saturday, February 6 at 4:00 pm

Directed by: Anton Corbijn

Cast: Dane DeHaan, Robert Pattinson, Lauren Gallagher Peter, Joel Edgerton and Sir Ben Kingsley

Biography/Drama, Rated 14A for some sexuality/nudity and language, 111 min. (UK/USA/Germany/Canada/Australia)

This drama tells the story of photographer Dennis Stock (Robert Pattinson) who convinced a rebellious young actor on the cusp of stardom, James Dean (Dane DeHaan), to allow him to shoot him for LIFE Magazine. While Stock thinks he’s capturing a star in the moment before he breaks; in fact, he’s documenting Dean’s last moments of intimacy and simplicity. In the process of the journey from Hollywood to New York to Indiana, a deep affection and improbable friendship gradually develops between the two young men. The photography from that 1955 trip permanently fixed the image of James Dean, producing iconic images of a new breed of film star and heralded the emerging youth culture.

Watch the trailer here!

Mavis poster_250


Screening: Saturday, February 6 at 7:00 pm

Written and Directed by: Jessica Edwards

With: Mavis Staples, Adam Ayres, Gene Barge, Bob Dylan, Levon Helm and Prince

Biography/Documentary, Rated G, 81 min. (USA)

MAVIS! is the first documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. From the freedom songs of the ’60s and hits like “I’ll Take You There” in the ’70s, to funked-up collaborations with Prince and her recent albums with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mavis has stayed true to her roots, kept her family close, and inspired millions along the way. Featuring powerful live performances, rare archival footage, and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, and more, MAVIS! reveals the struggles, successes, and intimate stories of her journey. At 75, she’s making the most vital music of her career, winning Grammy awards, and reaching a new generation of fans. Her message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.

Watch the trailer here!

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

Screening: Sunday, February 7 at 2:00 pm

Co-written and Directed by: Lisa Immordino Vreeland

Documentary, 14A for sexual content, 96 minutes (USA/UK/ITALY)

Lisa Immordino Vreeland follows up her acclaimed debut “Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel” with PEGGY GUGGENHEIM: ART ADDICT. A colorful character who was not only ahead of her time but helped to define it, Peggy Guggenheim was an heiress to her family fortune who became a central figure in the modern art movement. As she moved through the cultural upheaval of the 20th century, she collected not only art, but also artists. Her colorful personal history included such figures as Samuel Beckett, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp as well as countless others. While fighting through personal tragedy, she maintained her vision to build one of the most important collections of modern art, now enshrined in her Venetian palazzo.

Watch the trailer here!

Trumbo Poster sm_250


Screening: Sunday, February 7 at 4:00 pm

Directed by: Jay Roach

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Louis C.K. and John Goodman

Biography/Drama, 14A for language including some sexual references, 124 min. (USA)

Bryan Cranston stars as prolific and embattled screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in this powerful chronicle of the Hollywood blacklist era. One of Hollywood’s highest-paid screenwriters thanks to his scripts for such films as Kitty Foyle, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, Trumbo was perhaps the most celebrated of the many writers, directors and performers who saw their careers screech to a halt after they were brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 to answer questions about their suspected communist ties (although unlike many on the black- list, Trumbo was an actual card-carrying member of the American Communist Party until 1948). An outspoken member of the so called “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo was cited for contempt of Congress for refusing to testify before HUAC, resulting in a year-long prison sentence and a prominent place on the studios’ blacklist. Unable to obtain film work under his own name, Trumbo did some of his finest work under the names of various “fronts” throughout the 1950s — even winning the Oscar for Best Story in 1956 for The Brave One — until his public crediting for the epics Exodus and Spartacus in 1960 helped bring the blacklist era to an end. Featuring a brilliant performance by Cranston and a remarkable supporting cast that includes Diane Lane (Under the Tuscan Sun), Elle Fanning (Ginger & Rosa, Somewhere), John Goodman and Helen Mirren as notorious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, Trumbo is an insightful and stirring drama about one of the most controversial chapters in Hollywood history.

Watch the trailer here!

Unbranded poster_250


Screening: Sunday, February 7 at 7:00 pm

Directed by: Philip Baribeau

With: Ben Masters, Ben Thamer, Jonny Fitzsimons, Thomas Glover

Documentary, Rated 14A, 106 min. (USA)

“Ain’t nothing we can’t do and damn little we won’t try,” was the motto during the Unbranded ride, an unprecedented journey reminiscent of the American Frontier. Ben Masters, a young Texas horseman, set out to inspire adoptions for 50,000 wild horses and burros living in government captivity. He gathered three friends and hatched an outrageous plot to adopt, train and ride wild mustangs 3,000 miles from the Mexican border to Canada through the American West’s wildest terrain. The trip is an epic journey of self-discovery, challenged friendships, and iconic landscapes that includes runaway horses, a sassy donkey, perilous mountain passes, rodeo rides, sickness, injury, and death. Unbranded won the 2015 Audience Award at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

Watch the trailer here!

Reel Stories 2016 funders and partners