Free Thinking Film Festival offers ‘alternative’

(This article originally appeared in the Charlatan on November 6, 2012)

By Ben Silcox

The third annual Free Thinking Film Festival brought politics to Ottawa’s film scene.

The festival ran from Nov. 1-4, and was hosted by the Free Thinking Film Society.

The festival claims to offer “an alternative to the alternative.”

“We have a political agenda of freedom, liberty and democracy,” organizer Fred Litwin said on Nov. 4 when asked about the festival’s motives.

“Political correctness and cultural relativism had taken over large parts of the left and so you can’t argue with these people, you can’t discuss things,” Litwin said.

“We thought that the only free thinkers were conservatives. That’s how we came up with ‘Free Thinking.’”

“Back in 2007, when Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 was everywhere in Ottawa, there was this kid in the states who made a counter-documentary called Michael Moore Hates America,” Litwin said.

“I wanted to see it, so I wrote to the ByTowne, asking if they would bring it in, and they were like ‘no,’ so I realized that maybe the only way I can see that film is to hire a theatre and bring it in,” he said.

“By the time I did that, I wanted to show the film Obsession about radical Islam. So I put that on, and basically they cancelled the film because some retired professor from Carleton said it maligned Muslims.”

The first film screened at this year’s festival, Losing Our Sons, had a premise of Islam as a radical religion with a threat on American citizens.

The film had a strict political agenda, one that paralleled that of the festival.

The auditorium broke out into applause at certain points, and one audience member hissed when an image of Barack Obama was shown, provoking open laughter from the auditorium.

Following the film, blogger Marc Lebuis discussed the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada.

“It is a great privilege to be able to present what might be a problem that a lot of people might be concerned about, and one of these problems is basically Islamism,” Lebuis said in his speech opening.

Political motivations were not as prominent at Age of Delirium, a film that screened Nov. 4 and looked at the experiences of people living in the former Soviet Union. Age of Delirium examined crimes of the Soviet Union.

It was almost exclusively interviews, featuring long, unedited storytelling sequences and chilling accounts of actions of the Soviet government. This gave the film a highly personal atmosphere, focusing on experience and memory.

Bernhard Kalziki, a film fan who attended the screening, described why he was drawn to the festival.

“I just want to be open. You know, I just want to hear points of view,” Kalziki said.

“I think that all these movies should be on the net . . . they should be available to everybody.”

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