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    A man and a woman holding a film clapper look at the photographer.
    In 2007, filmmaker Kelly Saxberg and history professor Ron Harpelle were working on a documentary series entitled Citizens of the World.

    Kelly Saxberg and Ron Harpelle: Cinema in the service of humanity

    Day 132 of my solo bike trip across Canada.

    Heavy rain falls during the night as I sleep in a tent. A few hours later, I realize that my ground cover is floating on several centimetres of water. I have no choice but to leave and seek shelter until daylight. Later, at Thunder Bay City Hall, I hear about filmmaker Kelly Saxberg and Ron Harpelle, professor of history at Lakehead University.

    When we meet the same day, Kelly and Ron introduce me to their current project, a documentary series for TFO, Ontario’s French-language educational and cultural television network. “It’s a series about Canada’s role in international development and why it’s important, says Ron. Citizens of the World features Canadian experts, scientists and local researchers working for sustainable development.” Ron and Kelly travelled to film in Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

    Time flies, and in order to continue our discussion (and dry out my soggy tent) I accept their warm invitation to their home. There I met their three children and had the chance to see several of their films. ShebaFilms’ filmography is incredibly diverse! Features and shorts, fiction and documentaries, and even a series of 52 short videos. All subjects are important to them, as long as cinema is dedicated to people. Here are just a few of their productions:

    Innovation in Action focuses on social economy innovators in northern communities.

    Guardians of Eternity examines the history of arsenic contamination at Yellowknife.

    Banana split is about controversial banana production methods.

    Hard Time focuses on racism and human rights in the U.S. penal system.

    Toxic Time Bomb is about the impact of industrial pollution on a community in Ontario.

    In short, these two dedicated humanists present true stories, denounce little-known situations and celebrate family, identity and cultural diversity. Through their films, I also realize the depth of the connections that weave our humanity, but also the complexity of these interactions. Thank you Kelly and Ron for opening our eyes to these important issues.

    Texts by Éric Clément and Bertrand Lemeunier.

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