Docs, drama, shorts at film fest

Cas & Dylan will be screened Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Port Moody Film Festival. - TIFF
Cas & Dylan will be screened Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Port Moody Film Festival.
— image credit: TIFF

On the heels of the Oscars and the Canadian Screen Awards comes the Port Moody Film Festival, featuring the best of last year’s Canadian documentaries, comedies and dramas.

Tomorrow, the 14th annual celebration launches at the Inlet Theatre in city hall with Gabrielle, a Quebecois flick starring Gabrielle Marion-Rivard and Alexandre Landry that tells the tale of a young woman with developmental challenges.

Movie-goers will hear from director Louise Archambault — by tape — before Gabrielle is screened Thursday night.

PM Film Society artistic director Brad Williams said education is a key part of the festival and, in most cases, those involved in the selected movies will be present in some fashion to explain or expand on the narrative or production process.

For example, for Watermark, which will be played Friday night, the audience will be able to ask questions of director Jennifer Baichwal via Skype before her film is shown. With Lawrence and Holloman — to be screened Saturday — cast members and/or director Matthew Kowalchuk will be on hand to mingle afterward while Jonathan Sobol, the writer and director of The Art of the Steal, will be available via Skype on the festival closing night.

The PM Film Festival also offers a platform for Lower Mainland shorts, which will precede the feature films: Anxious Oswald Greene (directed by Marshall Azani) is on Thursday; Friday has Big Trees (Anne Marie Fleming) and Subconscious Password (Chris Landreth); on Saturday is Theatrics (David Lewis) and Canoejacked (Jonathan Williams); and Sunday has Under the Bridge of Fear (Mackenzie Gray).

Short creators contacted by The Tri-City News said they’re pleased to have a venue showcase their work. And Azani said he looks forward to speaking with the crowd tomorrow.  “Having screened at the Port Moody Film Festival before, it’s a great one for any filmmaker to attend as the audiences are always super engaged,” Azani said. “The festival shows some of the country’s best films and it’s full of people who just really enjoy great stories.”

Fleming will be out of the country for her screening of Big Trees, a film “about global issues but was inspired by a local event that a lot of people in the Lower Mainland may know about so that gives them an extra ‘in’ on the story,” she said.

Celebrating homegrown talent is important in the film community, Fleming said.

Gray’s film was also entirely created in B.C. “and I want as many local audiences to enjoy it as possible,” he said. “And getting a film seen is so difficult and complicated — every opportunity is equally important.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to screen it and it will let me see how an audience not connected to the film will react to it.”

Williams said it takes him and the film society board more than a year to whittle down its festival selection. For this year’s features — which were viewed by the Vancouver International and Whistler film festivals, among other places — 24 got shortlisted to six.

The society’s criteria calls for a mix including a francophone flick, documentaries, comedies and dramas.  “We want excellence in Canadian film,” he said.

Unlike their American counterparts, Canadian productions don’t typically have big budgets, especially for marketing, and can have limited releases.

That’s why the PM society decided to push Canadian-made shows rather than go international. “We picked these six films because they’re worth seeing,” Williams said.

• Admission to each film is $7 (with an annual society membership at $5; only cash or personal cheque is accepted as payment). A concession will be open during the festival and, on double feature nights, free goodies will be served in between. Movie-goers will also get a chance to win a free dinner for four to Pasta Polo. The winner will be announced at the wrap-up party on Sunday at 9:15 p.m. in the city hall galleria. For more information, visit pmfilm.ca.





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