By Casey Bennett –

A still from Helen Haig-Brown’s film My Legacy, which was screened at last years festival . Photo: Helen Haig-Brown
A still from Helen Haig-Brown’s film My Legacy, which was screened at last years festival . Photo: Helen Haig-Brown
Krista Liebe is a true film buff through and through. There’s an excitement that comes over her as she lights up when discussing obscure, difficult to find films from countries like Estonia and Iran. As a film buff myself, it’s quite contagious, really. Over a three-hour conversation, we spoke about her background in radio, running a successful publication, and more recently, her new endeavour—starting a film festival right here in the Lake City.


A native of Northern Germany, she came to Canada seeking adventure, first arriving in Edmonton to study at the University of Alberta and then bouncing from small community to small community. Eventually settling in Edmonton, Krista took it upon herself to start up the first Translation Agency in Northern Alberta. From there, Krista was asked if she would like to be a radio host for a German program on CKER (now World FM). The job was initially to be a temporary position, but ended up lasting 15 years. She loved it. She admits she had no idea what she could talk about, but from Monday to Friday, she managed to find inspiration and content for her listeners. A huge perk of the job was her ability to obtain media credentials for the Edmonton Film Festival.

Fourteen years ago, Krista and her husband found themselves in Williams Lake, a place neither of them had even heard of. The Cariboo-Chilcotin was as foreign as anything they’d ever experienced, but the rural life was welcoming. Her husband, Tihol, a school psychologist, had a new job with school district 27 and Krista was eager to bring what she had loved so much to her new home: films.

One year later, Krista would begin the Williams Lake Film Club, holding screenings at the Gibraltar Room. Having had made some connections with festivals while in Edmonton, she would hand select through a catalog and do what she could to bring the world to the community through film, exposing locals to the beauties and intricacies of foreign culture and at the same time, enjoying the company of others with interests beyond what comes out of Hollywood. Still, she saw a bigger picture for the community.

“Even then, I was thinking of a local event,” she says. “However, I lacked the necessary network to get one off of the ground and I was also quite busy with the German newspaper I was running monthly.”

Then, what started as a casual conversation with filmmaker Trevor Mack about showing his newest short film, Clouds of Autumn, at the Gibraltar Room, it sparked an idea in Krista and she saw her opportunity to get other filmmakers involved. It all came together in a couple of weeks and the first improvised Cariboo-Chilcotin Film Fest was held in 2016 on January 8. She compiled a small but great list of films from a variety of local filmmakers and showed three shorts by Oliver Berger and Morgan Day, Colin Labelle, and Trevor Mack, and one feature film directed by Helen Haig Brown. “This was very, very well received last year—we sold out all 400 seats at the Gibraltar Room.”

Now she is working on the first official Annual Cariboo-Chilcotin Film Fest to be held on March 10, 2017. She has been diligently seeking out filmmakers and films to show at the festival. “We are very pleased to be screening Giants Among Us, the new feature length documentary film by Robert Moberg, who made the wonderful Bighorns at the Junction. Giants will be closing the festival. Trevor is also going to be presenting a new short film he’s been working on, and we are very excited for that.

“I encourage filmmakers, actors, writers and artists from the Cariboo-Chilcotin to be actively involved in the years to come,” she says. “I am looking to showcase local works exclusively, although that does not mean you have to live here. My hope is that this festival really unites the community, both First Nations and white people. I want them to come together and share their works with each other. I feel it’s really important that this becomes the main focal point of the festival.”

If anyone would like to know more or volunteer, you can contact Krista at (250) 398-9149 or find them on Facebook. Proceeds of the Williams lake Film Club and Festival help to support the LDA, Williams Lake Chapter, the Association for Students with Learning Disabilities.


Casey Bennett is a Williams Lake-based photographer, freelance graphic designer, film buff, and professional beard grower. His photographs have been exhibited in Williams Lake, Victoria, Portland, and Dusseldorf.


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