For me filmmaking is inextricably linked with the New Brunswick Filmmakers' Co-operative. It's where I first found out how to make a film and saw and handled celluloid. The Film Co-op began in 1979 and I first walked in when my friend Kevin Holden told me I should stop in. It was neat to see the tools of filmmaking there –-- the flatbed Steenbeck film editor and the rolls of film on it. The Eclair NPR camera and lenses and lights and the Nagra tape recorder seemed like exotic and special tools that I would grow to love. I remember the first big screening we organized where we showed all the films made by the coop and the whole program was just over a half hour.
It was slower making films then as we only shot on film which went to the NFB lab in Montreal to be developed and printed. Then the sound and picture were synchronized and the mag stock and work print were sent off to have rubber numbers printed on it before editing could begin. The whole process was much more elaborate and involved and all through the process you would handle the film as it took shape. Then the sound mix and colour timing would need to happen in another city which involved travel and money. Now the whole process for postproduction can happen all within a laptop or even a phone, so it's faster to make films.
There were years where there was only one film finished at the coop, but now there are films at various stages of production with work happening every week. So while we had to wait a few years to get enough films together for a screening, now every year for the past 15 years, the Silver Wave Film Festival has been able to highlight the best of the films from New Brunswick in November. I've been to Silver Wave almost every year and seeing the development of new talent from the little film coop where I first started making film always is an inspiration.
For me (and many others) Tony Merzetti and Cathie Leblanc are the key organizers at the heart of the coop. Tony and I got involved at the coop around the same time and it's wonderful that he's still there. As Tony and Cat will point out, the coop is powered by many volunteers and one of the most encouraging things is to see how many new people get involved every year. The exciting thing this year is that I've been able to help with the festival in becoming part of the team to help with programming. There are a lot of other people involved and spending time at the coop this year gave me a deeper glimpse into the festival that has evolved over the past 15 years.
While there are over 100 films in the program this year, the whole festival is condensed into four days, so it's a concentrated dose of films and filmmakers. With a few features and a lot of shorts, there are films for every interest and age from drama to documentary. Things get started on Thursday, November 5 with the New Brunswick comedy Owl River Runners playing at Tilley Hall at UNB at 7pm with the opening party following at the James Joyce Pub at 10pm. It's the first of three Atlantic micro-budget features playing with the Nova Scotia feature Noon Gun screening Sunday, November 8 at 2pm at Tilley Hall and the closing feature from Prince Edward Island, Kooperman, Sunday at 7pm.
Friday is a packed day with the Industry Series at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre which is free (but you need to sign up). There are five panels with a range of filmmakers talking about their films, the industry, and themselves. It's a chance to meet people, find out more about the films, and the state of the industry in the region. The Industry Series wraps up with a reception before the films start showing in the evening throughout the city.
The documentary Guilda: elle est bien dans ma peau plays at 7pm at Conserver House as part of the Cinema Politica Showcase. At 8pm at Wilser's Room in the Capital Complex you can see a diverse range of music videos in the East Coast Music Video Showcase. The CLiFF (Canadian Labour International Film Festival) feature film is the animated documentary Little Girl with Iron Fist with a reception beginning at 8:30 at the Kinsella Auditorium at St. Thomas University and the film beginning at 9:30. The Coast to Coast Shorts show starts in Tilley Hall at 9:30 pm with films from across Canada (with heavy New Brunswick representation). The final event for Friday is the much-anticipated and chaotic Midnight Madness with a theme of "Murder, Ghosts & Time Travel" at Tilley Hall beginning at Midnight.
Saturday begins at noon with the Canadian & International Shorts I with some of the best short films (drama, comedy, and experimental) from Canada and the world showing at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. The popular Youth Shorts are showing at noon at the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne as well with the next generation of filmmakers well-represented by the short films on display. At 2pm the more dramatic Canadian & International Shorts II program screens at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. The CLiFF Shorts play at 2pm at Chickadee Hall in the Fredericton Public Library with a mix of documentary and dramatic shorts built around workers and the Labour movement. The short documentary showcase Short Docs I (People and Places) screens at 4pm at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre with Canadian documentaries with a range of approaches to their subject matter (and featuring the great animated musical documentary The Singing Lumberjack about Charlie Chamberlain).
The warm heart of the festival is the NB Shorts Gala beginning at the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne at 7pm with the best local shorts from the past year. The 18 shorts preceded the Silver Wave Awards at 10pm and the Gala Party at the James Joyce Pub at 11:30pm with things continuing in the Hospitality Suite early into the next morning as filmmakers and fans talk about what they've seen, what they've made, and what they're going to make over the next year.
Sunday is the final day of Silver Wave and Short Docs II start the day off at 2pm with diverse documentaries from the Atlantic and Quebec at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre. The Nova Scotia feature drama Noon Gun is playing at 2pm in Tilley Hall with filmmaker Caley MacLennan present for the film and a Q&A afterwards. At 4pm the New Brunswick Documentary The Utrecht Seals (featuring Algonquin Métis rapper Samian) shows at the Charlotte Street Arts Centre for a different perspective on history and the Utrecht Treaty. The final film of the festival is the bromance Kooperman which plays at 7pm at Tilley Hall on the UNB Campus before the closing party at the James Joyce Pub at 10pm.
I'm excited to dive back in to Silver Wave this year to see films, share stories, and spend time with friends as we celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of inspirational filmmakers again.