ShebaFilms is a Canadian film, video and new media production company with a difference. Led by filmmakers Kelly Saxberg and Ron Harpelle, we specialize in documentary films that focus on historical films, environmental issues, and social justice, with a strong emphasis on issues affecting Northern Ontario. For the last two decades we have been making award-winning films that both educate and entertain. You can watch most of them on our Vimeo channels. and follow may of our projects on Facebook.
HERE ARE SOME OF OUR CURRENT PROJECTS
Pulp Friction is a documentary film about people, places and the global economy. The film looks at the lives of people living in the shadow of a pulp mill in three communities. It opens with Terrace Bay, Ontario, where the mill was spared the wrecking ball by an Indian multinational and people know how close them came to losing their town. Then, viewers are taken to Kemijärvi, Finland where the northern-most pulp mill in the world, and the community that depended on it, were not so lucky. The film ends up on Fray Bentos, Uruguay, a country without natural forests but where one million hectares of eucalyptus plantations feed an enormous modern pulp mill that is changing everything. This is a story of globalization and how the lives of people on different parts of the world are bound together by an industry that knows no borders. The film is in English, French, Finnish, and Spanish. With mill closures a fact of life across Canada, this is a timely look at how the pulp industry shapes our world and impacts our communities.
To follow the story of the Angola 3 and for the latest updates like our Hard Time – Robert King face book page
“Hard Time” is a 40 minute documentary about the personal evolution of a man, from a life of poverty in rural Louisiana, through the state corrections system, to becoming a political activist who has devoted his life to the plight of political prisoners in the United States. In 1970, a jury convicted Robert King of a crime he did not commit and he was sentenced him to 35 years in prison. He became a member of the Black Panther Party while in Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Prison authorities beat him, starved him, and gave him life without parole after framing him for a second crime. He was thrown into solitary confinement, where he remained in a six by nine foot cell for 29 years as one of the Angola 3. In 2001, after years of legal battles, he was set free. “Hard Time” is his story told in his own words. The film focuses on racism and human rights in the U.S. penal system, and also draws attention to the plight of Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, the other members of the Angola 3. Herman Wallace was released after 42 years in 2013, after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he died a free man only three days after his release. Albert Woodfox remains in solitary to this day. Robert King’s story is one that makes people everywhere think about what how the justice system works. This is a story of inspiration and courage, and the triumph of the human spirit.
You can now watch the film and related films on our new Human Rights Vimeo channel.
THE BIG BLUE
The Big Blue is a 65 minute feature length documentary about Canadian writer Charlie Wilkins and his 53 day, 5000 km voyage across the Atlantic Ocean with 15 crewmates aboard Big Blue. This is a 9 minute version to wet your appetite for more. You can purchase a DVD for private or public use here. You can watch our short films about the preparation for Charlie’s incredible journey on our vimeo channel bigbluerow. Charlie Wilkins’ book, Little Ship of Fools, based on the voyage of Big Blue, was published in September 2013. For Screenings of this film and updates on bookreadings check out our Shebafilms facebook page or charleswilkins.ca
Big Blue Row channel includes a series of short videos that document some of the stages of the row, introducing the team and the concept.
UNDER THE RED STAR
Under the Red Star (a.k.a. Big Finn Hall), is a feature length docu-drama, in Finnish and English, about the vibrant culture and politics at the heart of Canada’s most significant worker’s hall. For screenings near you check out our facebook page Under The Red Star.
In 1910, Finnish immigrants built the Finnish Labour Temple in Port Arthur, Ontario (now Thunder Bay). In its early days it was inseparably linked to the activities of Canadian labour and the left. The Big Finn Hall was a place where culture and politics came together. This film integrates archival footage, photos and fictionalized scenes to bring to life the lively and dramatic past of the early years of Finnish immigration to Canada. Under the Red Star tells the story of the struggle for a just society in the early twentieth century Canada.
The film stars Rauli Pohjolainen, Kevin Brothers, Danny Johnson and well known Finnish actors Jussi Nikkilä and Elena Leeve, 45 local actors and over 200 extras. The Director of Photography is Harvey LaRocque. Music by Danny Johnson, Animation by Hubert Den Draak. Under the Red Star is written and directed by Kelly Saxberg and produced by Ron Harpelle. The film had its first screening for over 250 cast and crew on 26 November 2011. Researcher and Finnish immigrant scholar Dr. Varpu Lindström, whom the film is dedicated to, was in attendance. We then had a sold out community screening at the Bay Street Film Festival where it won a People’s Choice award. The film had its official world premiere in Murmansk Russia, at The Northern Character international film festival. Kelly Saxberg was awarded a special jury prize for Best Director for “Letters from Karelia” at the Northern Character film festival in Murmansk, Russia on November 17, 2011
Copies of the film can be ordered via this website or bought in Thunder Bay at the Scandinavian Deli, The Hoito and The Finnish Bookstore.
ShebaFilms was established in 1996 as Shebandowan Films. Our production company seeks to ensure the representation of Northwestern Ontario in the Canadian film industry. ShebaFilms is the leading film and video production company in our region and we are happy to say we have helped support many local filmmakers over the years.
We work in English, Spanish and French and produce programming in formats ranging from film to high definition video. Our films have been broadcast across Canada and elsewhere in the world. We have also shown our films internationally at festivals and in classrooms.
A good example of our creative work is Citoyens du Monde – 6 x 54 min. documentaries about research for development shot in 16 countries around the world. Airing on TFO. The English version Citizens of the World is also available from Les Productions Rivard. As an extension to Citoyens du Monde, we produced a series of 52 video clips on development issues for the International Development Research Centre. Here is a sample with Vandana Shiva.
Now you an watch most of our films on our Vimeo site. On this site you can watch individual productions or watch one of our dedicated channels.
Click on the links below to see what we can do
In Security This film explores the history of barbed wire, from its introduction on the Great Plains in the 1870s to control animals, to its use today to control people.
Northern Grown This is 30 min. film about food security in Northwestern Ontario and research by Lakehead University’s Food Security Research Network.
Seeking Bimaadiziiwin a 30 minute drama that tackles depression and suicide among First Nations youth. It has garnered many awards including Best Live Action Short at the American Indian Film Festival.
Life is But a Dream… This is a short film Kelly Saxberg directed as part of the 2010 International Doc Challenge. It was the only Canadian entry out of 12 finalists from around the world to be selected for screening at Hot Docs.
Banana Split, (2002) winner of the 2004 Deborah Fletcher Award for Excellence in International Development Filmmaking and in 2005 at the Latin American Environmental Media Festival in New Orleans.
The Hoito Project See Finnish guitar legend Jukka Tolonen and his band, Cool Train, back up the best talent in Northwestern Ontario.
Perogy Nation This is a little something we put together as a comedy food show that takes a light hearted look at perogies of the world and the people who make them. This film stars Ivanka, the polyester princess, who is played by singer/actor/playwright Jo-Ann Waytowich.
Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer, (2006) a documentary film about Canada’s first female amateur filmmaker. In addition to our documentaries, Shebandowan Films also developed The Fatal Flower Project which resulted in, among other things, The Fatal Flower, winner of the 2003 Burrit/Thompson Award. All three screening on our Lady Lumberjack Channel.
Kelly Saxberg is our award-winning resident director and editor of the Gemini nomimated documentary, Letters From Karelia, (NFB 2004). and was also the director of Rosies of the North (NFB 1999). She has also distinguished herself as a film editor on series like Pioneer Quest, a hit television series for the History Channel and For Angela (NFB 1994) which won a Gemini “Canada Award” in 1995.
Kelly has directed several films for Les Productions Rivard, Among them are Le printemps des voyageurs: La genèse (produced in English as Voyageur Legacy: Our Story) and Hinge of an Empire (in HD). Her editing credits with Les Productions Rivard include L’Ange de Budapest a one hour documentary directed by Marcel Collet, and Le printemps des voyageurs, two, one hour Docu-dramas in HD directed by Jean Bourbonnais. This experience guarantees the quality of our productions and makes Shebafilms the first choice in filmmaking in Northwestern Ontario.