Even though the summer weather may be long gone, festival season is far from over in our city, with the upcoming Edmonton International Film Festival (Sept.27- Oct. 6) promising an exciting lineup of new films screening in Edmonton for the first time. Edmontonians will have the opportunity to see not only what are sure to become some of the fall’s must-see movies (and potentially next spring’s biggest awards contenders), but also independent films from around the world. At the heart of this year’s festival, as in previous years, are Canadian productions, and even, in an area at which EIFF excels, works by filmmakers local to Alberta.
Festival Director Kerrie Long estimates that almost a quarter of the films on offer this year have some Albertan connection, whether filmmakers still live and work in the province, or continue to call Edmonton or Alberta home from afar. These include an afternoon of short film programmes entitled Studio A and seven feature length films created by Edmontonians – From the Wild, Necessary Evil, Clara, Lake Shore Drive, Kreuzberg, The Need to Grow and LoST – which, set alongside the broad mix of genres, styles, and nationalities of film playing over the course of the Festival’s 10 days, place home-grown filmmakers in global context, and may also help audiences to finally recognize the wealth of talent at work in their own backyard.
Equally, filmmakers themselves benefit from EIFF’s vibrant cinema culture, and not just because the festival received Oscar qualifying status from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2016, a designation that allows films screened here to be put forward later for Oscar consideration. “We encourage local filmmakers to meet attending guests,” Long says, “to really dive in and see what stories are being told globally, and to discover cinematic styles.”
Student filmmakers from NAIT’s Digital Cinema program have certainly embraced the chance to get involved this year, with director Ivet Koleva’s short film Penance, originally a class project which she describes as “essentially a family drama set in a pool hall,” selected to screen as part of Studio A.
Both she and Penance’s director of photography Greg Waggoner, who have had a keen interest in different aspects of filmmaking from childhood, consider the festival selection to be an important career milestone.
“We are all beyond happy and honoured to be able to premiere our film to such a large festival,” Koleva says.
Waggoner concurs: “[Getting into the official selection is] quite an accomplishment considering our zero dollar budget and lack of professional experience. For a lot of us, Penance was our first short film.”
As for why other NAIT students might want to attend EIFF, Waggoner gives a compelling summary:
“I think film festivals offer a form of originality you won’t find in a regular theatre. There aren’t any remakes, sequels or reboots. We’re just artists creating the stories we want to tell, and they’re stories we think people should see.”
Koleva stresses the importance of the NAIT community:
“It would mean a lot to us to see and meet NAIT students and instructors at the screening of our film.”
“After all,” she says, “just come and enjoy movies with popcorn!”
Penance screens as part of the Studio A program, 11:30 a.m. on Sunday Sept. 30, at Landmark Cinemas 9 City Centre, 10200 102 Ave NW.
Passes and tickets are available online now at www.edmontonfilmfest.com.
– Celia Nicholls
Image courtesy of edmontonfilmfest.com