Seven Statements on the 2014 St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival

If there was ever a week to be making plans for dinner and a movie, it's this is the week. Every night.

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If you’ve never been, The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival is like four days of Christmas for film nerds. So if there was ever a week to be making plans for dinner and a movie, or a head-first dive into the best of film from around the world, this is the week. The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival is ringing in their 25th year with a stellar selection of movies that made it past their submissions’ desk and into their trustworthy projectors.

Save the Lunch Date All Week Long

Every day from Wednesday through Saturday, pop into The LSPU Hall between 12-1 for some films from all over the world. Some days it’ll be a suite of shorts, other days a feature-length film. Friday’s lunchtime viewing is a really promising documentary called Web Junkie, that anyone living in The Age of the Internet should watch to be rightfully startled by. This one runs 12-1:30, but if your boss is halfways decent she or he will now it’s SJIWFF Week, and will file your tardy return from lunch under Cultural Enrichment of his/her staff.

There’ll Be Seven Fabulous Feature Films; Four of them Local

While film festivals are likely the only time most of us watch short films — and there’ll be a post about shorts tomorrow — it’s the feature-length films that always steal the bulk of ticket sales. This year is no exception — after sweeping the Atlantic Film Festival with 6 awards wins, the Wednesday night screening of Cast No Shadow (NL) is already sold out. So drag no heels in getting tickets to the ones that remain. The festival will open with a screening of a hot new Canadian film called October Gale (Wednesday; 8 pm at the Arts & Culture Centre), Thursday night’s feature is We Were Wolves (9;30 at LSPU Hall); it premiered at TIFF and was written and directed by St. John’s filmmaker Jordan Canning, with Steve Cochrane both co-writing and acting in the film. Canning has described the movie to The Overcast as “a manly film with men feeling feelings.” There’ll also be a screening of Sundance hit Obvious Child Thursday night at the Avalon Mall at 7:30. Friday night’s feature is another local one, How to Be Deadly (9pm at Holy Heart Theatre), starring Donnie Dunphy, which was deadly enough to bag the Audience Choice Award at the Atlantic Film Festival last month. The festival’s website declares, “If you don’t laugh at least once a minute we’ll send you to a friggin’ counselor.” The Festival will close Saturday night with another local film, that screened at Cannes this year: Deanna Foley’s Relative Happiness (8pm, Arts & Culture Centre). Earlier on Saturday, you can catch a feature from one of Canada’s favourite and most original filmmakers, Andrea Dorfman. Heartbeat screens at noon at the LSPU Hall, and Dorfman will be there to answer questions after the movie.

The Film Lover’s Lottery

Don’t be annoyed if someone tries to sell you tickets for the Film Lover’s Lottery this week. Be generous instead, because it’s a win-win opportunity. Money from these tickets is used to fill the piggybanks of  the Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Fund and the film festival itself. There’s only 1,000 tickets printed, so you’ll have a decent shot at prizes like an all expenses paid trip to the 2015 TIFF (worth $3,000), a 32 GB iPad tablet with smart cover, a night’s stay at the Fisher’s Loft, dinner for two at Raymond’s, or  two full passes to both the MUN Cinema Series and next year’s SJIWFF, and other good gifts. Tickets are $20.

There’ll Be Shorts Screening by the Two Most Recent Winners of the Michelle Jackson Award

The RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award is a $10,000 prize for a promising female filmmaker in Newfoundland. Previous winners of the award include notable local names like Ruth Lawrence & Allison White. The money gives the winner a budget to shoot a short with, and that short is guaranteed a slot in the subsequent Women’s Film Festival. The 2013 winner of the award was Tamara Seguera Gonzalez, for her script Before the War, which will play during Saturday Night’s festival-closing event at the Arts & Culture Centre, prior to the screening of Relative Happiness. Coincidentally, Jenina MacGillivary, who won the 2014 Michelle Jackson Award, also has a short in this year’s festival. It’s called Boarding. Though you’ll have to wait ’til next year to see Jenina’s award-winning film, you can see her debut Wednesday evening at the hall, during the Wednesday Evening Short Films event, 7-8:30.

Cast No Shadow Might Be Sold Out, But There’s a Great Event Happening Concurrently at the GeoCentre

Cast No Shadow swept up 6 awards at the Atlantic Film Festival last month, just as tickets for St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival were going on sale, so they naturally sold out. But fear not — you can still get your Wednesday Night Fix of Film.  From 9:30-11pm at The Johnson GeoCentre, there’ll be an interesting mix of short films topped off by a notable 40-minute movie by Anne Troake. Anyone who reads The Overcast cover to cover every month will recognize that name from Craig Francis Power’s article on how Anne Troake’s OutsideIn was selected to represent Newfoundland in this year’s prestigious Venice Biennale. You can see what all the buzz is about Wednesday night. OutsideIn “is a stereoscopic meditation on the body and its environment, shot entirely in 3D using high-powered macro lenses. The film examines the body, up close and personal, and its boundaries — or apparent lack thereof — in the natural environment.”

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Workshops Workshops Workshops

Whether you’re a filmmaker or think maybe you wanna be, you don’t wanna miss some of these workshops this week. Few things change the trajectory of an artist’s career the way one magical workshop moment can. Wherever you are in your film career, you’d benefit from these workshops the way a movie benefits from popcorn or Batman did from Robin — be stronger, get better, avail of these one-time only events. For example, on Wednesday there is one called “Get It Made: The Ins and Outs of Funding,” and isn’t funding the number one barrier to any film project? Yes? Go find out how to leap that barrier. “You’ll learn what’s out there for films, television, digital media, and web series.” Another challenge for filmmakers is the oh-so-important pitch — you’ve got a brilliant idea or movie made but you drop the ball making others excited by it. Don’t. Really. You need to stop that, and on Thursday, award-winning pitch expert Jan Miller can show you how. In addition to strictly educational workshops, there’s plenty of engaging panels to take in as well. Or plain funny ones, like Saturday morning’s “Hair of the Dog: A Comedy Talk with Susan Kent (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) & Deanne Foley (Relative Happiness).” it’s taking place at Nifco, 10am, and will be a lively discussion on writing comedy.

Saturday Afternoon is for The Kids! You’re Always Looking for Something to do with The Kids!

Saturday afternoon, from 3:30-5 at The LSPU Hall, The Festival is offering you something fun and different to do with the kids, via a sweet suite of shorts, dubbed “Afternoon Family Shorts.”

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