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    Film festival this month highlights real reality films

    In “Good Ol’ Freda,” a documentary about the Beatles, Freda Kelly tells of her years working with the band.
    Austin Hargrave
    In “Good Ol’ Freda,” a documentary about the Beatles, Freda Kelly tells of her years working with the band.

    The Screening Room is known as one of the host venues for the Newburyport Documentary Film Festival, a role it will take on again for the eighth annual event on the Sept. 20-22 weekend.

    “One of the exciting things is, we have more filmmakers coming than ever,” said festival managing director Joanne Morris. The creative minds behind 14 of the 23 films will be on hand for post-screening talks or panel discussions at this year’s festival, she said.

    Andrew Mungo, co-owner of the theater, is also the sponsor of the festival’s opening film, “Good Ol’ Freda” showing Sept. 20 at the Firehouse Center for the Arts. The movie by Ryan White tells the story of a Liverpool teenager, Freda Kelly, who was asked to work for a new rock band called the Beatles and became their trusted staffer and friend.


    On Sept. 21, the Firehouse will also host a screening of “Secundaria,” a film by Boston University associate professor Mary Jane Doherty, which follows a class of teenagers through Cuba’s world-famous National Ballet School.

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    During the day on Sept. 21 and 22, the Screening Room and the Firehouse will run movies from 11:30 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m., Morris says. Subjects range from the Fukushima nuclear disaster to a controversy over raising chickens in Ithaca, N.Y. Local resident Mark Davis will also present his film “Martian Mega Rover,” which tells the story behind the Mars Rover.

    Ticket prices range from $8 for a single daytime film to $75 for an all-access festival pass that also gets you into an invitation-only reception for the filmmakers on Sept. 20. Tickets should be available now at the Firehouse box office during its regular hours and at

    Tickets will also be available about two weeks before the festival at the Screening Room during regular hours, as well as at the door if available. But Morris says the evening events often sell out in advance.

    More information is available at

    Joel Brown