WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT
The Okanagan International Film Festival is going ahead with plans to show the documentary feature 'Donkey Love' next Saturday, October 13 at 11 p.m.
The documentary was filmed in Colombia where, according to festival organizer Jeremy Heymen, the practice of men having sex with donkeys is not uncommon.
According to the film, the practice is taught in schools and is even handed down from father to son.
'Donkey Love' has won several awards at film festivals around the world, most recently screening at both the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and Sydney Underground Film Festival.
While the subject matter is bestiality, Heymen says it is not graphic, although it is suggestive.
Heymen says the decision to run the film was made late last week after a live concert was cancelled at the last minute.
He says 'Donkey Love' was originally screened and recommended by Leo Bartels who screens all documentaries.
"When I saw he rated this Donkey Love movie so highly, I thought he was joking. I talked to him about it and he said it was just a really well made documentary," says Heymen.
"We want to show the best in effective, thought provoking, haunting, heartbreaking and hilarious cinema. With our documentaries we look for things that are thought provoking, relevant and well made."
Heymen says the film fits the criteria.
Despite the subject matter and possible community backlash against the film and the festival, Heymen says he plans to go ahead with the screening as planned.
One roadblock could be Consumer Protection BC, the provincial agency which rates movies and documentaries for viewing in BC.
All films must be rated before being shown in the province, however, Corporate Communications Manager, Tatiana Chabeaux-Smith, says film festivals may seek an exemption to show un-rated films as long as they meet certain criteria.
Those exemptions include:
- A non-profit cultural organization
- Registered as a society and in good standing with the Corporate Registry, Societies and Cooperative Office.
Heyman admits the festival has not been a society since 2010 and all films slated for viewing this year are un-rated.
Chabeaux-Smith says they are looking into the festival but adds the mandate of the agency is education.
She expects to be in touch with the festival to try and bring them into compliance.
Despite the subject matter, Chabeaux-Smith says she cannot speculate whether or not the film would receive a rating.
Heymen says the film is not graphic, only suggestive.
"They don't show anything graphic. The way it's done is you are very much in their (filmmakers) shoes," says Heymen.
"Starting off, I couldn't help but laugh at how ridiculous these things were. They show a guy who had no problem doing this on film. It basically shows the reaction of the director and producer standing there with their jaws dropped to the ground."
The entire film festival is scheduled to run next Thursday through Sunday at the Paramount Theatre downtown, however, Heymen says he won't have the venue 100 per cent confirmed until Friday.
The complete line-up of films featured at the festival include:
Thursday, Oct. 11
- 7 p.m. Event: OPENING GALA
8 p.m. Opening Night Feature: IN THE FAMILY
Friday, Oct. 12
- 4 p.m. CODE OF THE WEST
- 6 p.m. SIX SHORT FILMS SHOWCASE
- 8 p.m. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?
- 10 p.m. A.L.F.
- 12 a.m. Midnight Feature: LOWLIFE
Saturday, Oct. 13
- 1 p.m. Showcase: SHORT DOC / MUSIC VIDEO
- 3 p.m. THIS IS OURS
- 5 p.m. SIX SHORT FILMS SHOWCASE #2
- 7 p.m. EYES OF A BEGINNER
- 9 p.m. DARK & COMIC SHORTS SHOWCASE
11 p.m. DONKEY LOVE
Sunday, Oct. 14
- 11 a.m. Event: AWARDS BRUNCH
2 p.m. STEPPING INTO THE FIRE