Kingston film fest starts this weekend

Guy Terrifico strums a maple-flavoured guitar to a country-western tune.
Guy Terrifico strums a maple-flavoured guitar to a country-western tune.
Photo courtesy of

The city is playing host to Canadian filmmakers extraordinaire this weekend as the Kingston Canadian Film Fest hits our humble streets for its sixth year running. Featuring Canadian-only content, the festival has a line-up of 20 feature-length films this year.

The festival kicked off on Wednesday night, with the screening of Familia at the Octave Theatre. Directed by Louise Archambault, it is one of two films that make up the festival’s French Outreach Program.

Kara Haflidson, ArtSci ’06 and festival coordinator, said the film was well received.

“It went well last night,” she said. “There was clapping after the film finished, which I think is always a good sign.”

Archambault received the award for Best Canadian First Feature at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), tying with Michael Mabbott’s The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, also part of this year’s lineup.

Haflidson said there have been some positive changes to this year’s festival structure.

“I think every year it gets a little bit bigger and better,” she told the Journal. “This year we have a People’s Choice Award. At every film there will be ballots, and [the results] will be tallied at the end of each film.”

The winner of the award will be announced at the free screening of a 35mm version of C.R.A.Z.Y. on Sunday, she said.

Last night, filmgoers got a taste of John Hazlett’s These Girls, the official opener, at the Empire Capitol 7. Based on a play written by fellow Canuck Vivienne Laxdale, These Girls is a coming-of-age tale about three best friends who all sleep with local hottie Keith during their last summer in their small New Brunswick town before university.

The film showcases the talents of Holly Lewis, a graduate of the drama department here at the University. Also starring in the film are Caroline Dhavernas, former MuchMusic VJ Amanda Walsh, and David Boreanaz, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum.

Haflidson said she thought These Girls and The End of Silence, in which Kingston’s musical darling Sarah Harmer makes her acting debut, will be this year’s big crowd pleasers.

“I think Holly Lewis will bring a big fan base,” she said. “I know a lot of people like [Harmer], and will support her in our community.”

Haflidson said she is also excited about The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico, Lucid, C.R.A.Z.Y. and Love is Work.

She said it’s important for people to go out and see some great Canadian work this weekend.

“In terms of Canadian movies, people think that ‘Canadian movies equals poor production value’, which is not the case,” she said.

If you can only make it to one flick this weekend, Haflidson said The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico is a must.

“You can see how incredible it is that it is someone’s first feature, so you can see what’s possible,” she said. “And also, the music is incredible.”

Aside from screenings, the festival offers a series of free workshops that are open to the public. This includes an acting workshop, a shorts workshop and a genre filmmaking workshop.

Haflidson said the festival has also organized a filmmaker seminar named “My First Time” happening today at 2:30 p.m. in Etherington auditorium.

“This year it is about making your first feature film,” she said. “The panel is amazing. We have six directors who are going to answer questions and talk about their experiences.”

Haflidson said the panel includes directors like Anita Doron (The End of Silence) and Sean Garrity (Lucid).

Last year, the festival featured films like The Love Crimes of Gillian Guess, directed by Kingston native Bruce MacDonald, and The Papal Chase directed by Kenny Hotz, now of Kenny vs. Spenny fame.

“Our film festival is so important for Kingston because we have so many programs geared for Kingstonians and Kingston filmmakers,” Haflidson said.

Films to see this weekend:

This film earned actress Maggie Cheung (Hero) the 2004 Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Cheung plays Emily, a recovering drug addict out to rebuild her life between Paris and Vancouver and regain custody of her son. Directed by Oliver Assayas. Friday, March 10, Empire Capitol 7, 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 11, The Screening Room, 12:10 p.m.

The Life and Hard Times of Guy Terrifico
With this film, first time director Michael Mabbott took home the Best Canadian First Feature at last year’s TIFF. Mabbott’s mockumentary follows the life of notorious Canadian country music sensation Guy Terrifico, and features talent such as Kris Kristofferson. Friday, March 10, Empire Capitol 7, 9:45 p.m. and Saturday, March 11, The Screening Room, 2:50 p.m.

Shorts Package
Last year, the package featured the acclaimed animated short Ryan about Canadian animator Ryan Larkin. This year’s seven-film lineup includes Renuka Jeyapalan’s Big Girl, which took home the Short Cuts Canada Award at the TIFF, and the Genie-nominated Milo 55160. Saturday, March 11, Empire Capitol 7, 2:45 p.m.

Jean-Marc Vallée’s film took home the Best Canadian Feature Film at the TIFF last year. It also received 12 Genie nominations. C.R.A.Z.Y. is the story of Zac Beaulieu, one of five brothers trying to gain acceptance by his family in a 1970s Montreal. The film also has a stellar soundtrack including David Bowie and Pink Floyd. P.S.—this screening is free. Sunday, March 12, Empire Capitol 7, 7 p.m.

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