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Cinefest Sudbury 2002. (Sudbury).


For the past 14 years every late September, hot on the heels of the Montreal World Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, there is another film festival that is growing in stature, is just as much fun as the aforementioned bigger ones, and should be checked out at least once by every fan or supporter of Canadian cinema. Run by executive director Tammy Frick and held together by a legion of dedicated volunteers, this little festival is rapidly approaching that place where it can no longer be called little. Cinefest Sudbury, Ontario, focusing on Canadian films and filmmakers, is well organized, well sponsored and features an impressive array of very diverse titles from all over the world.

Sudbury, known more for its mining trade than anything else, would not be the first place you would think of to host a film festival; however, this remarkable little festival has enormous civic support and is a place that filmmakers take seriously. The gala presentations at the 2002 edition included Bollywood/Hollywood from Deepa Mehta, from France, Francoise Ozon's 8 femmes (this festival also featured a retrospective of the films of Ozon); Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine, Atom Egoyan's Ararat, and David Cronenberg's Spider. Each gala was shown at Cine Plus, a comfortable old theatre, while all other films were screened at the ultramodern Silver City.

The festival programs included called It's All True featuring documentaries, World Cinema featuring films from all corners of the globe, and Features Canada showing Canadian films. There was a children's film component and a Cinema Classics feature where I caught Norman Jewison's Rollerball and Roger Vadim's Barbarella. And a favoute of mine was Yamakasi, an action-packed film from France about seven young children who invent a new sport to be played amid the high-rise apartment complex they live in. The film was produced and written by Luc Besson and directed by Anal Zeitoun.

Of the 82 films screened (including shorts) one of the more interesting ones was It All Happens Incredibly Fast from first-time Toronto filmmaker Jai Dixit. This taut psychological drama set in a bar on an incredibly tense evening stars Maurice Dean Wint. It's also interesting that the filmmakers decided that their film should make its debut at Cinefest Sudbury because the likelihood of it being seen and appreciated by an audience of real moviegoers would be greater than if it got lost in the hundreds of films screened in Toronto. The ploy worked; the screening was held on a Friday afternoon and it was jammed to the rafters. Later, at the closing night party I conducted an informal poll of filmgoers as to what they thought of this film. The response was unanimously positive. "Bringing the film to Cinefest Sudbury was a way of test screening it. No pressure to sell the film or have the film evaluated," said Jai Dixit in the Sudbury Ramada Inn the day after his successful screening. "I didn't screen it with the expectation that Harvey Weinstein would be sitting there with cheque book in hand--it was just to feel the audiences' reaction to the film."

Cinefest Sudbury also has the Forum Series, well-supported seminars where discussions on the practical side of filmmaking in this country take place. These seminars are hosted and conducted by professionals who have films in the festival or have had films in the festival in the past--an example being Vancouver filmmaker Dwayne Beaver who attended Cinefest Sudbury last year with his film The Rhino Brothers and returned this year to conduct a seminar on directing actors on film. This year's seminars included Show Me the Money: Funding Your Film; Lights, Camera, Action: Directing Actors on Film; The Underscore: Placing Music into Film; The Score: The Role of the Composer; and Date with a Tape: The Demo Tape Critique.

Prizes are given out at the closing night gala celebration: winners this year included first-time filmmaker Wiebke von Carolsfeld for his film Marion Bridge with Molly Parker, and Soo Lyu for her film Rub & Tug. Both filmmakers were on hand to enjoy their victories. One thing that makes this festival fun is the relaxed atmosphere. The Toronto International Film Festival has become huge in size and stature and with that comes pressure. Cinefest Sudbury is about filmmakers getting together to share their films with film fans who aren't exposed to these types of films. I watched Peter Mettler wandering around one of the parties--he was in Sudbury with his sprawling documentory Gambling, Gods and LSD--being approached by other filmmakers and Sudbury residents alike to talk about the film and their reactions to it. No publicists, no agents, no nothing; just a bunch of moviemakers and movie lovers hanging out together in a place where there really is little else to do but screen movies and commune with the filmmake rs.
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Author:Heard, Christopher
Publication:Take One
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Previous Article:22nd Atlantic Film Festival. (Festival Wraps).
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