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Atlantic Film Festival

Lights, camera, action!

By Trevor J. Adams

Relative Happiness

Relative Happiness


Back for its 34th year, the annual Atlantic Film Festival offers a huge selection of works from Atlantic Canadian talents. “Due to the overwhelming response to our Atlantic Canadian film selections in 2013 we’ve added new programs and increased the amount of screenings by 30 per cent this year,” says program director Jason Beaudry. “We couldn’t be more excited about the 2014 Atlantic program. These 87 films are made with our own stories in our own voices, and as a whole they are a celebration of who we are and where we live.”

This year’s Atlantic Gala features the Atlantic Canadian premiere of Heartbeat by Halifax director Andrea Dorfman. Screening at Cineplex at Park Lane on September 12, the film marks the continuing collaboration of Dorfman and poet/songwriter Tanya Davis following their multi-million hit YouTube sensation and recent book How To Be Alone. With Davis playing a meek but determined office worker bound to follow love and music rather than convention, Heartbeat’s gentle love/loss/love plot, punctuated by quizzical bits of animation takes the story to a level of expression rarely seen in East Coast filmmaking.

The lineup also includes the Atlantic Features Program, which spotlights diverse feature-length films from across Atlantic Canada. Festival goers will connect with spirituality through nature in Kent Martin’s affecting documentary Raising Windhorse, soak up thrills and suspense with Jesse Harley’s Lure and two features from Paul Kimball in The Cuckoo in the Clock and Roundabout, revel in the unbridled hyperbole from Tim Tracey’s Canadian Ninja and Nik Sexton’s How to be Deadly, discover new talent with first features from Newfoundland filmmakers Christian Sparkes (Cast No Shadow) and Jordan Canning (We Were Wolves); and delight in the youthful drama of La gang des hors-la-loi (The Outlaw League) from director Jean Beaudry.

This year, the festival features the world premiere of two films from Atlantic Canada: Deanne Foley’s big screen adaptation of Lesley Crewe’s novel, Relative Happiness, and the career-spanning documentary of Newfoundland politician Danny Williams, Danny, co-directed by William D. MacGillivray and Justin Simms.

The busy schedule of events also includes the Atlantic Shorts Gala (eight short films on September 14), a celebration of rising talents called NextGen Shorts and the Atlantic Broadcast Program, which showcases the region’s television production industry. “Once again our industry in Atlantic Canada has delivered a selection of films both feature length and short subject that exemplifies what it means to be part of the Atlantic Canadian experience,” says Wayne Carter, executive director. “We are so pleased that our friends at Bell Aliant Community One are partnering with us to raise the curtain on an incredible selection of Atlantic feature films. This program is always our most popular with festival goers and this year everyone is in for a sublime treat.”

For schedules and ticket information, surf to atlanticfilm.com.

Spotlight East: The Atlantic Film Festival Brings Hollywood Insiders to Halifax

Highlights of the AFF include Disappeared

Highlights of the AFF include The Disappeared
Photo: Michael Tompkins

For over 30 years Halifax’s thriving filmmaking industry has exploded every September. As home to the Atlantic Film Festival, the city has welcomed filmmakers, actors and fans from all over the world into its theatres. “We’re probably the biggest film festival in the region,” says festival director Lia Rinaldo, boasting about the local talent. “The heart and soul of our programs is all of the Atlantic films…we have a huge community here.”

This year’s Festival has been a work in progress since its credits rolled last September, and has seen the biggest influx of film submissions in its history. With more than 1,700 entries, Rinaldo and her team kept busy selecting the 158 for this year’s lineup. Of the chosen, about one-third are local creations, one-third national, and the remaining spanning from across the globe. “We try to pull from all areas…to keep it balanced,” says Rinaldo.

Alongside the regional variety, the genres included are also quite diverse. “Pretty much everything and anything you can imagine,” Rinaldo says. Combine this eclecticism with classic Maritime hospitality and the result is a truly unique and animate Festival experience.

One big change that can be expected by Festival goers this year is sheer accessibility; all of the main activities are centralized within just a few city blocks in Halifax’s core, a concentration that Rinaldo is sure will give the Festival a distinctively different feel from other years. “It’s good for making last minute decisions,” she says, citing that between the Oxford and Park Lane locations of Empire Theatres, at any given time there will be about five screenings on the go, followed by nightly celebratory parties around town.

The Festival, supported by a large staff and a volunteer troop of over 300, is calling the Lord Nelson Hotel its home-base, where there will be a Festival Lounge open to the public and delegates from September 14 to September 20. Film-goers can stop in before or after a show or party to enjoy a variety of programs, discussion, food and beverages. “It’s sort of an all-access, behind-the-scenes [look], in a central location,” says Rinaldo.

Aside from the opening and closing galas, fans can look forward to a variety of special events. The Atlantic Gala on September 14, features The Disappeared by Shandi Mitchell, followed by the Telefilm Canada Gala on September 15, which features Midnight’s Children by Deepa Mehta. The CBC Atlantic Shorts Gala set for September 18 will present eleven short films, including Better People by Mark O’Brien and A Dog is Ignoring You From the Passenger Sear of a Parked Car by Anne-Renee Dumont.

The Festival also has eight Rogers Special Presentations, which Rinaldo considers to be “premium” screenings. “They are some of the top films from around the world and the current film festival circuit,” she says. The feature line-up includes Holy Motors by Léos Carax, Love is All You Need by Susanne Bier, Amour by Michael Haneke, and Rust & Bone by Jacques Audiard.

Spectacular opening and closing galas will feature The Angel’s Share by Ken Loach on September 13 and A Royal Affair by Nicolaj Arcel on September 20. The closing gala will also include an international jury appointed awards ceremony. This culmination, taking place on September 20, will wrap up an exciting week for fans, the world’s burgeoning artists, and their palette Halifax.


Tickets for shows and parties are available exclusively at www.atlanticfilm.com

Hot Dates: Atlantic Film Festival

September 15 to 24: The Atlantic Film Festival attracts top actors, directors and producers, but still has a casual East Coast vibe. It showcases some of the best international, Canadian and Atlantic Canadian films, while featuring some of the best musical talent the region has to offer.