The ceiling of the Tuchiniski cinema

Last week, I mentioned one of the primary benefits of being in a bigger city - having the added cultural selection.

The International Documentary Film Festival ( is the highlight for a lot of the 30+ crowd in the city, and is one of the best choices I've made so far here (aside from the decision to stop mentally converting Euros to Canadian dollars - it deadens the pain) .

It is basically 10 days straight of hundreds of films, from 10am to midnight every day. From bigger-budget Michael Moore fare to small-budget French movies, it's all here, and it really is international. Most films are in English with Dutch subtitles, which is a bonus for A) those who speak English and B) those who want to learn Dutch.

I saw two films this week... and I know what you're thinking - "wow, quite the movie buff there, Jeff. - hundreds of movies and you saw two." But wait. Little did I know - and now you know, so you can prepare for next year - that most of the movies were sold out well ahead of the start of the festival.

Inside the Tuchinski theatre

The Dutch, and the large expat community here it seems, are serious film buffs. And with the ability to purchase multiple screenings online, coupled with the regular amount of dreary November weather, the site read "uitverkocht" for a great number of movies.

Next year, should you be here - check the schedule early and start clicking.

I saw "Male Domination", a scathing look at male aggression and insecurity by a Parisian director. It focuses a lot on the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, and also shows a number of first-hand accounts of domestic violence along with a small group of idiotic "masculinists", a society of troglodytes who think the way people did 200-300 years ago.

I found the movie very moving, but also limited in its scope (and it didn't help that it didn't paint a more global picture of the problem - Quebec comes off as a desolate, wintry, brutal society, and of course it is not; it's one of the more progressive ones, and there are far more severe societies around the globe). It also didn't dig deeper to see what some of the root causes are, nor the solutions.

To be fair, the director (who was there for a Q & A after the film) did say that he really could have made six films with all his footage to cover the scope of the problem.

Onto the second movie, which was "The Rainbow Warriors of Waiheke Island", a beautiful movie about Greenpeace and the story of the Rainbow Warrior which was sunk off the coast of New Zealand back in the 80s as it was protesting French nuclear tests that killed scores of South Pacific islanders and marine life, and left hundreds others disfigured or with birth defects.

It follows the people who were on the ship then, with footage of how they remembered it and of how they live their lives today. It had a particular resonance for me, having been to Waiheke Island in 1996. It's about a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland, and is just an amazing place.

A stock photo of Waiheke Island

The movie had great scenery, great (real-life) characters, and a story that really has no parallel today. Although I'm way more on the green and the peace side of things in general, myself and millions like me wouldn't have the conviction to do what they did back then. We're too distracted by shiny things, the convenience of modern living, and willful ignorance.

The grey-haired, grizzled vets that they are today seem awfully content and well-adjusted, though - perhaps the by-product of a life lived with real meaning.

We were even lucky enough to have one of them in the audience also doing a Q & A after the movie - a definite perk of the big-city film festival.

Peace out.