Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wiebo's War Screening at Hot Docs

I am in the midst of writing a few reviews for documentaries that will be screened at the upcoming Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. I plan to have the reviews posted to coincide with the festival. In the meantime, here is some information about one of films that the National Film Board of Canada is producing at this year’s Hot Docs festival:

Wiebo's War

Wiebo’s War tells the story of a Christian community at war with the oil and gas industry.

Wiebo Ludwig is a suspect in a 2008 string of pipeline bombings that echoes a campaign of sabotage he was accused of waging against the oil and gas industry in the 90s, during which roads were barricaded and wells blown up. When a 16-year-old girl was fatally shot on his family’s farm in 1999, the unsolved tragedy thrust Ludwig’s fight with the industry further into the media spotlight.

The Ludwig family lives in northern Alberta, in the heart of Canada’s oil patch. They arrived there 25 years ago, wanting to live more closely in accordance with their Christian beliefs and the Scripture. They built their community in the wilderness with their own hands, not knowing that it lay on top of one of the largest undeveloped fields of natural gas on the continent. Others took whichever buyout was on offer, accommodating the oil and gas industry. After years of trying to deal with the industry, politicians and the media, Ludwig and his family went to war.

Their community is self-sufficient in food and electricity, but isolated. Apart from Ludwig and his wife Mamie, there are five married couples, seven unmarried adults and 38 grandchildren, many entering their teenaged years. They are security conscious, aware that they are being watched, open to the outside world, but guarded.

And they believe that those who don’t share their beliefs, like filmmaker David York, are living in terrible darkness.

Complete Hot Docs schedule for Wiebo's War:

April 30 7:00 p.m. Isabel Bader Theatre
May 3 7:15 p.m. TIFF Bell Lightbox 4
May 7 6:30 p.m. Regent Theatre

The controversial Ludwig, along with filmmaker David York, will be in attendance at the April 30th screening.

Wiebo’s War had its world premiere at the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (March 11 to 20, 2011) in Thessaloniki, Greece. The film was produced by David York for 52 Media and Bonnie Thompson for the NFB.


  1. Documentaries are one genre of film I really would like to get into more. I spend far to much time escaping from this wretched world.

    Wiebo's War looks a bit of a mouth open watch if you get my meaning? Looks very interesting.

    I hope you have fun at the festival


  2. @Custard - It took me a while before I started getting into docs. Still have a long way to go myself, but I like that there are festivals such as this to expand my horizons.

    As for Wiebo's War, I complete agree that it looks like it will be a shocker for sure. Especially considering I know very little about the events that took place.

  3. @CS I think you are very lucky to have a festival like that near you.

    I had a search for a Film Festival in Brighton (the city where I live) and nothing, nadda, nowt. Which is strange as it is a very hip and trendy artsy type of city. Famed for its culture and style.

    Ah well.

  4. @Custard – Odd that Brighton does not have any film festivals. The one thing that we cinema lovers often take for granted in Toronto is our access to so many festivals. It seems like each month there is at least one or two film festivals going on.


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