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FIN Atlantic International Film Festival wrapped for 2018

Attending a film festival has an integral social impact  and offers the opportunity to experience more than just sitting in a theatre and watching a presentation, which is what the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival offers its patrons.

Having just wrapped up its 38th year, the film festival has been well established as a premier event in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They do more than highlight the best in film, by presenting unique ways for people to enjoy the screen presentations and exciting special events.

You may be surprised to learn that ‘FIN’ is not an acronym.

Wayne Carter, Executive Director of the festival, explains, “Although ‘FIN’ does not represent three words, ‘FIN’ itself has meaning. Halifax is on the Atlantic Ocean, which is full of fins and it is the word that appears at the end of French films.”

FIN is also a stroke of branding genius, since it comes up at the top of search engine results.

 

 

For the second year in a row, FIN partnered with Autism Nova Scotia to offer relaxed screenings and the films presented at these specialized venues were, ‘designed to be attended by anyone on the spectrum.”

Autism Nova Scotia provided free tickets which encouraged people with varying abilities to see films in more comforting environments, as the theatres offered soft lighting, subdued sound and a safe and calming atmosphere.

People seem to want more from theatres, which has led to the emergence of 4DX films that incorporate effects such as motion, rain, wind and even scents into a movie. Carter suggests that this type of film will appeal, ‘to a certain type of audience looking for a specific experience.”

He continues, “Virtual reality could also be an interesting sensory adventure.”  However, it is unlikely that the majority of those going to the theatre would want to be tossed around in their seats and sprinkled with water among other things for a full 90 minutes, making the probability of complete immersive films becoming mainstream nn unlikely expenditure for most film makers.

An exciting feature for film lovers to look forward to is the prospect of a digital pass. Carter explains that, “We are going to adopt a digital aspect to the festival as a way for us to bring FIN to people who cannot attend in person.” As the planning for next year’s festival has already begun, you can be sure adding digital attendance will be on the agenda.

One other way FIN is garnering attention is that women are getting the opportunity to demonstrate their talented filmmaking skills. At this year’s awards ceremony, women were the predominate recipients.

Deanne Foley won The Gordon Parsons Award for Best Atlantic Feature for ‘An Audience of Chairs’, Shelly Thompson won the Best Atlantic Short award for ‘Duck Duck Goose’ and Reneé Blanchar won the Best Atlantic Documentary award for ‘Dans L’Ouest’ (Shadow Men).

Within the film culture, women are definitely forging their own path and being recognized for their efforts.

“I am proud that 59% of our gala performances were directed by women. They are showing their strength and women will continue to be elevated in this profession”.  Carter said during an interview.

There were 194 films on the roster at this year’s FIN and they strive to include a mixture of all genres in order to guarantee there is something for everyone. As quoted on their home page, FIN is “Atlantic Canada’s curator of epic and unforgettable stories” and they have certainly demonstrated their commitment as this year’s Atlantic International Film Festival was a resounding success.

The Song and the Sorrow: Film debuts this weekend

 

October 10 is World Mental Health Day and according to the Canadian Mental Health Association: “Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. By age 40, about 50 percent of the population will have or have had a mental illness.”

The National Film Board will be releasing this Saturday at the Atlantic International Film Festival in Halifax The Song and The Sorrow. Through the lens of Canadian filmmaker Millefiore Clarkes following Juno award winning musician Catherine MacLellan, the film is a journey to understand Catherine’s father, Canadian folk legend Gene MacLellan’s mental illness which led to his suicide.

Produced by Rohan Fernando and Paul McNeill, and executive produced by Annette Clarke for the NFB’s Quebec and Atlantic Studio, The Song and The Sorrow contains archival footage and intimate interviews with friends, family members, and musicians who knew and played with Gene—including Anne Murray, Lennie Gallant, and the late Ron Hynes. The film reveals a troubled and loving man who was never at ease with fame and money. The land and people of Prince Edward Island inspired Gene MacLellan’s music and are a vibrant presence in Clarkes’ documentary.

In an interview both Catherine and Millefiore talk intimately about the film.

How did you both collaborate in making this film?

Millefiore: “Focusing The Song and the Sorrow on Gene’s struggle with mental health was Catherine’s initiative. When I first approached her about making this film, the focus was more on the creative legacy between a parent and child, about the complex relationship and inspiration derived from a parent with a large personality and artistic temperament. I was also interested in how sadness and loss can precipitate creative expression. However, I was nervous to ask her about his suicide. I didn’t want to exploit her personal tragedy. But Catherine was at a point in her life, 20 years after Gene’s suicide, where she was looking for ways to talk about her experience. She got back to me immediately suggesting that we focus on Gene’s struggles as well as her exploration of how that has affected her and her family.”

How many threads to this film are there?

Millefiore: Quite a few. A daughter’s story of her father’s legacy of mental health struggles and suicide; Catherine’s story of her own struggles as a result; Gene MacLellan’s rich and enigmatic musical and personal legacy; and a bit of Canadian music history woven in there. It could have been a much longer film. There were so many paths to follow. It was always an endeavour to contain the film and keep it focused while touching on all these threads.”

What is the message the film wants to deliver?

Catherine: “The biggest message I’d like people to get from this film is how important it is to talk about mental health, and how in doing that we can all be a part of reducing the stigma that keeps so many people from finding the help they need. I hope that people get a sense of the lasting effects of a suicide and how we really need to continue the conversations surrounding mental health to help the people all around us who may be suffering.”

What did you enjoy the most about the making this film?

Catherine: Interviewing Lennie Gallant, Ron Hynes and Marty Reno was a really nice experience for me. They were all close to him and had interesting experiences and thoughts to share. Getting to visit with Anne Murray was a bit intimidating for me at first, she’s such a legend and I hadn’t met her since I was a little kid. She shared some really great stories and was very kind and generous with us.

Showing at the Atlantic International Film Festival on Saturday, September 15.