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Going behind the scenes at the WHS

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Kevin Nikkel didn’t know much about the Winnipeg Humane Society until he was given a backstage pass to make a documentary.

"I had no idea the sheer size of the operation here," said Nikkel. "I knew there was a Humane Society, but I had no idea where in the city it actually was."

Called The Challenges of Giving Shelter, the film follows the goings-on behind the scenes and some families looking to adopt pets.

"Before I brought the camera in I was mostly observing and shadowing people," said Nikkel. "It was amazing to see the army of people that come through and all of them love the animals."

The film was made under the Winnipeg Arts Council’s WITH ART program.

"WITH ART is a program that matches professional artists with community groups to collaborate on projects," said Tricia Wasney, manager of Public Art at the Arts Council. "It’s a way for communities to express identity and talk about issues that they are concerned about."

The artists vary from filmmakers like Nikkel to painters, sculptures, and singer/song writers.
Aileen White, communications director at the WHS, said they applied for the grant without hearing about the WITH ART program.

"I thought if we had an artist do who knows what for the shelter, there is just so much opportunity," said White.

The WHS was then accepted by the Arts Council and presented with couple of different artists in different mediums. After an interview process they chose Nikkel for his experience making documentaries.

In the film Nikkel addresses the issue of euthanasia at the WHS.

"It’s a portrait film and I really wanted to make the film, looking beyond the headlines," said Nikkel. "But I was startled by the amount of animals that are coming through here."

The film has not been released because Nikkel will be sending it to different film festivals in Canada.  There are clips and images online at winnipegarts.ca

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