Film Fests East & West
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(September 23, 2021 – Toronto, ON) When I first looked into the fall film festival season two weeks ago, there were a number of festivals that had yet to release their schedules. That has changed, new festivals have been added to our pages and there’s lots of festival news.
The Ottawa International Animation Festival started yesterday, the Calgary International got underway today, and the Vancouver International (VIFF) launches October 1st. All My Puny Sorrows screens in Calgary online and in-cinema tonight and tomorrow night and as a Video-on-Demand on September 26. VIFF offers up 32 Canadian films this year and All My Puny Sorrows kicks off at noon on Friday, October 1. Other Canadian films to look for at VIFF include Bootlegger, Drunken Birds, Night Blooms and many others.
The Edmonton International also starts October 1. Tickets went on sale September 17. A great mixture of features and documentaries with 36 Canadian titles including All My Puny Sorrows. Also look for Bonecrusher, Learn to Swim, Night Raiders and the wonderful Charlotte, which is an animated drama that tells the true story of Charlotte Salomon, a young German-Jewish painter who comes of age in Berlin on the eve of the Second World War. Voices are provided by Keira Knightley, Marion Cotillard, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent, Sam Claflin and others in a 92-minute film directed by Eric Warin, Tahir Rana. It’s a Canada-France-Belgium coproduction.
Jumping all the way to the Atlantic side of the country, the 32nd edition of the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF ) begins its 5-day run on October 13. From a record 950 submissions, organizers have crafted a program of 54 films made by women from Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, and worldwide. The opening feature is the highly-anticipated coming-of-age film Night Blooms from Nova Scotia director/writer Stephanie Joline. People in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Ontario can stream all 54 films on-demand, with some provincial restrictions.
Closer to home, the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival has announced its programming for the 22nd annual festival with live in-person and virtual events from October 19-24. This year the festival presents over 145 works from artists representing 51 Indigenous nations in more than 26 Indigenous languages. The Opening Night Gala is Night Raiders by Danis Goulet. It will be an in-person screening with Q&A at TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. Night Raiders is a Canadian-New Zealand science fiction apocalyptic film starring Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Alex Tarrant, Amanda Plummer, and Violet Nelson.
One day after imagineNATIVE begins, the ReelWorld Film Festival launches its schedule with films created by Canadian filmmakers who are Black, Indigenous, Asian, South Asian, and People of Colour. The opening night Gala is Kaveh Nabatian’s Sin La Habana, a complex love story chronicling a Cuban Ballet Dancer’s emigration to Canada. Seen through the eyes of three people, Sin La Habana focuses on Leonardo (Yonah Acosta), a ballet dancer, and Sara (Evelyn O’Farrill), an ambitious lawyer, two young Black Cubans desperate to leave their country. They realize that their ticket off the island is for Leonardo to seduce one of the foreign students at the salsa school where he teaches. When he meets Nasim (Aki Yaghoubi), a Canadian-Iranian divorcée, and moves to Montreal, the international love triangle disintegrates into a situation where nobody gets what they wanted, but everyone ends up closer to their true destiny. ReelWorld runs from October 20-27 in Toronto.
Two more October festivals loved by Toronto filmgoers is Cinéfranco (October 26 to November 2) and Rendezvous with Madness (October 28 to November 7). The Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival runs October 30 to November 7.
We list 16 Canadian film festivals in November, although some have been on hold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A new festival (to us) that you might find interesting is Ottawa’s International Vegan Film Festival which actually kicks off on October 30 and runs until November 7. One of the most important festivals in November is Montreal’s RIDM or The Montreal Documentary Film Festival. It runs from October 10 to 21. Also look into Silver Wave Film Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
Also see: October Film Festivals.
Ralph Lucas is the founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca. He began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.