Featuring 26 film screenings, six free educational workshops and three parties, it’s no wonder Kingston’s annual Canadian Film Festival is expecting a 10 per cent increase in ticket sales this year.
Continuing the tradition of the last 11 years, the festival will take place from March 1 to 4 at three different venues: Capitol 7, 275 Princess St. and the Screening Room.
According to festival co-ordinator Marion Ferrer, The Samaritan, Back to God’s Country and Monsieur Lazhar are the most anticipated films to screen this weekend.
The Samaritan, co-written by Elan Mastai and David Weaver stars Samuel L. Jackson as an ex-convict whose past entangles him in a downward spiral of new criminal activities. The film is the third by Weaver to screen at the festival.
The 1919 silent film, Back to God’s Country will be featured as part of the festival’s exhibit on Nell Shipman as a hallmark female in Canadian film history.
With a 300 per cent profit, Back to God’s Country was one of the most successful films of its day. The re-screening aims to emulate the experience of the silent-film era, including live musical accompaniment.
“We did the same sort of thing two years ago and people loved the silent film screening with live music,” Ferrer said. “It will be a good screening for anybody looking to see what it was like to see a film back in 1919. [Shipman] was a pioneer woman in film history.”
The festival will see an increase in public workshops taught by industry experts, including a writer-director collaboration workshop taught by The Samaritan creators Mastai and Weavers, an in-focus seminar on Shipman by Kay Armatage and a workshop taught by Michael Patrick Lilly on film-making in small cities like Kingston.
Directed by Philippe Falardeau, the French-Canadian film Monsieur Lazhar tells the story of a newly-hired Algerian immigrant teacher in Montreal who is forced to overcome his personal tragedies while his students do the same. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last Sunday’s Academy Awards.
As a result of the Oscar buzz, Ferrer said the film will screen twice at the festival to keep up with ticket sale demands.
Ferrer said the festival is vital because it showcases local and Canadian talent on the big screen.
“What’s different about the Kingston Canadian Film Festival from other festivals is that we have the opportunity to showcase this local talent, and not everybody has that chance,” she said.
For the first time at the festival, a $500 prize will be awarded by a jury to the best local short film screened at the festival.
“To make a film you need so much money,” she said. “We can showcase Canadian film and local talent to give the chance to this young talent to have the opportunity to be on a big screen.”
Queen’s will host a workshop on how to go about starting a career in film and media, featuring film critics, directors, writers, editors and producers from across Canada.
Ferrer said these initiatives are part of the festival’s focus on bringing attention to local and Canadian filmmaking.
This year will be the last time the festival can screen films at the Capitol 7 theatre on Princess Street since Empire Theatres decided to close down the cinema. A no-competition clause will prevent other theatres from opening at the location, affecting the festival’s capacity to screen films.
“[It’s] definitely going to be a change. We are aware that it will affect the festival and sales, but there’s nothing we can really do about it,” Ferrer said. “Sometimes it happens and they have their plans to grow and that’s fine.”
The Kingston Canadian Film Festival runs until Saturday. See kingcanfilmfest.com for detailed schedules and events.
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