The Ottawa International Vegan Film Festival (OIVFF) is a trailblazing event dedicated to celebrating vegan ideals: a healthier, compassionate, environmentally-friendly lifestyle that can be achieved through the consumption of a plant-based diet and alternatives to animal products.
The OIVFF will launch its inaugural screenings as the world’s first vegan film festival on October 14 at Ottawa, Canada’s Mayfair Theater. It will not only showcase the talents of extraordinary filmmakers, but also serve as a crucial link connecting a global community of vegans and inspiring non-vegans to make kinder, more informed food choices.
The festival’s director, Shawn Stratton, decided to create OIVFF because he was looking for a way to utilize his skills, experience, and passions in the plant-based community. Documentaries had been a big part of his decision to move to a plant-based diet, so he became interested in screening an established vegan film festival in his hometown of Ottawa. Upon doing more research, he realized no such festival yet existed, and saw an opportunity to create something new and needed.
From the beginning, the goal of the festival has been to inspire both vegans and non-vegans. Stratton says, “I want vegans to be inspired to maintain their way of life, and I want to open the minds of non-vegans to consider this lifestyle.” Another motivating factor behind the festival was to highlight quality vegan-themed films that may not be getting the attention they deserve from mainstream audiences via the usual streaming services, film festivals, or theater runs.
Stratton has big plans for the festival’s future, including expanding to a full weekend, and eventually a full week, of screening and industry events, including Q&As with filmmakers and panel discussions with industry experts. Starting manageably small on this inaugural year, the OIVFF will screen from 3-6 PM, showing a compilation of the best films that can fit into a 2-3 hour time slot. Most of these will be short films under 30 minutes, or shortened versions of full-length feature films.
Among the films being screened is Promises, a Danish short film which follows Jo-Anne McArthur of the We Animals photojournalism project on an investigation into the industrial farming of chickens. Also shown will be the French mockumentary The Ethical Butchery, which follows a butcher who performs amputations on animals and then fits them with prosthetics in an absurd attempt to produce “ethical” meat. Additionally, British short film 73 Cows follows cattle rancher Jay Wilde as he does what no farmer in the United Kingdom has ever done before, by transforming his meat farm into an organic plant-based farm and saving every one of his cows from slaughter.
Featured image: a still from the film 73 Cows. This image and all images in this story via Shawn Stratton.