Here in St. John’s, we’re blessed with one of the best film festivals in the country — The SJIWFF – which will take over the town from Wednesday Oct. 19th – 23rd with a series of screenings, workshops, and more.
To check out the festival’s schedule in its entirety, tear the middle out of this month’s issue of The Overcast, or, visit the SJIWFF website. This post merely skims the surface of the festival’s offerings.
Four Evenings of Feature Films …
You can end every night of the festival with a Canadian feature film.
Thursday evening offers up the locally shot film that brought Jason Priestley to town. Away from Everywhere (Oct. 20th, 7pm @ Scotiabank Theatre) is an adaptation of a local novel by screenwriter Mark Hoffe. Nearing thirty-five, writer Owen Collins is plagued by childhood demons, the ghosts of failed relationships, and a persistent feeling that his life lacks meaning. When his brother Alex arranges for him to stay with his wife and family, what feels like a new beginning becomes one last wrong turn.
Friday evening will screen Boundaries (Oct. 21st, 8pm @ Holy Heart). Montreal Filmmaker Chloé Robichaud leads this fresh and powerful drama shot almost exclusively on Fogo Island. Of the film, the festival says “We don’t think we know of another film quite like Boundaries—that is, one that so profoundly explores politics and power from a woman’s point of view. Well, not just one woman’s point of view: several women are implicated in an ongoing negotiation between Canada and a financially desperate remote island nation.”
Saturday night will screen local filmmaker Martine Blue’s Hunting Pignut (Oct. 22, 9:30pm @ LSPU Hall). Hunting Pignut features Taylor Hickson as Bernice Kilfoy, a 15-year-old misfit who runs away from her rural Newfoundland community in search of Pignut – a tormented and violent gutter punk played by Joel Thomas Hynes – after he steals her father’s ashes right out of his urn. To quote the festival, “we can’t help but see Pignut as antidote to our tourist ads.”
The festival will close with a Sunday evening screening of Maudie (Oct.23rd, 7pm @ Scotiabank Theatre), which features Hollywood’s own Ethan Hawke, and Sally Hawkins whose performance has been deemed Oscar worthy. It was filmed in Newfoundland in 2015, and is a biopic about Maudie Lewis, a real-life Nova Scotian folk artist, but the story focusses on the unlikely love story between two outsiders.
Deadly Documentaries All Day Long …
Several notable documentaries will screen throughout the festival. Among them are:
The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent, which will kick the festival off on Oct.19th, 7pm @ Scotiabank Theatre. “Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman turns her talents to one of our most beloved local heroes, the world’s most charming rowdy man … Berman managed to draw from Gordon Pinsent a most intimate portrait of what makes him tick.”
Tuesday afternoon, The Rooms is hosting a Coffee & Culture event, to screen Angry Inuk (Oct. 20, 2:30PM @ The Rooms), a piece about something close to all our hearts: the international bashing of the seal hunt, and its effect on the livelihood of locals, in this case, Labrador’s inuit community.
Screenwriting credits for Atlantic (Oct. 20th, 7pm @LSPU Hall) go to local CBC Personality Angela Antle. “Not screening this award-winning documentary at our festival would be pretty close to criminal. A wise co-production, Atlantic follows the rise and fall of three small fishing communities in Ireland, Norway, and Newfoundland.” The doc is narrated by Emmy-award winning actor Brendan Gleeson.
Friday night, Oct. 21st, 9:30pm @ the LSPU Hall, you can catch League of Exotique Dancers. “In our time, the once noble art of burlesque has given way to the tedious mechanics of pole dancing. League of Exotique Dancers is an enormously entertaining celebration of that art and of the women who once performed their way to the status of legends. The women on whom the spotlight shines are smart, sassy, and still so sexy after all these years … Where once they bumped and did the grind we stand.”
So Many Sensational Shorts …
1 selected short film will play before the feature Friday through Sunday, but you can also watch handfuls of carefully chosen shorts bundled together in 1.5-hour chunks Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, as well as Sunday afternoon. These are films from all over the world, sure to entertain, and if one doesn’t, well, they’re shorter enough to sit through until the next one starts that you’re likely to like.
Of special note is local filmmaker Wanda Nolan’s RBC Michelle Jackson Award-winning short, Crocuses. Every year, the festival administers this generous award to help an emerging filmmaker make a short, and that film is then screened at the subsequent SJIWFF. Crocuses will screen before Maudie on Oct. 23rd, 7pm @ the Scotiabank Theatre.
Wonderful Workshops …
Looking to fund a project, get facetime with famed filmmakers, launch a web series, or pitch a project? There’s workshops for all of that and then some at the Women’s Film Festival. Take, for example, the session at 10am on Saturday Oct. 22nd at NIFCO: “Content & Brand Building with VICE Canada.” Curious how they got so damn popular and financially secure, and want to follow suit? Go, listen, learn, ask questions.
Enter Below to Win a Pair of Passes to the Festival!