Today, Thursday, September 17, 2015 is the first day of the 35th Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s an exciting day as 100 films will be shown over the next week. There is a lot to see and do and I hope to squeeze in as many films as possible and share things here and in various ways over the next week. It’s a concentrated and exciting time and can be overwhelming, so I am here to help you with some of the blog posts from the past week.
If you haven’t obsessively been planning out your days, putting them into your calendar, and figuring out which chargers and bags and snacks to bring, you can start with How to Enjoy a Film Festival. There are tips for planning things out and keeping track of what you’ve done. If you have the time and money, getting a pass is the best way to go as it gives you flexibility in being able to change your schedule as well as letting you in to parties and events and the Reel East Coast Lounge in the Lord Nelson Hotel. The pass also gets you into the Festival Music House Atlantic on Saturday night which includes Rose Cousins and Sloan playing at the Marquee Ballroom.
The high-profile parts of the festival are the galas and parties and you can buy tickets for them individually (and your ticket will get you in to the party connected with the screening if there is one) or if you have a pass you are in. The first gala is tonight with Paul Gross’ Hyena Road which is happening at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium with a red carpet gala followed by the opening party at the Lord Nelson. I’ve got my guide to the galas and events to give you an overview of what will be playing. I’m eagerly anticipating Stephen Dunn’s Newfoundland coming-of-age story Closet Monster on Friday, and Jacques Audiard’s French film Dheepan on Wednesday.
There are a ton of great short films playing and you could have a pretty amazing festival just seeing the shorts. With documentaries, drama, experimental, and animated films it is a concentrated blast of cinema spread out over the week. You can find out more in my guide to the shorts for 2015 which has some real gems. The shorts program also highlights established and emerging Atlantic filmmakers well, and it’s always good to have some shorts in your schedule as you plan out your week.
Some of the best documentaries of the year are in the program and in my guide to the feature-length documentaries I go through the lineup of non-fiction films that screen over the next week. There is a strong Atlantic presence in the documentaries and Donna Davies documentary Fanarchy will have people in costumes from their favourite films as well as a photo booth at the screening, so that will be one not to miss.
There are feature-length dramas screening every day in the festival which make for many difficult choices as you try to figure out what to see. I broke down the schedule day by day and you can check out the individual days for my thoughts on the films that will be playing.
The feature dramas on Friday have the weird Entertainment and the harrowing The Keeping Room as highlights. On Saturday, there is the world premiere of the P.E.I. feature Kooperman, as well as the drama Fire Song, the local feature Undone, and the tense Green Room too. Sunday begins with the German one-shot film Victoria and ends with the adaptation of Room to name two of the choices. My highlight Monday will probably be the Thai drama Cemetery of Splendour, the odd drama The Lobster, and there is the world premiere of the N.B. feature Owl River Runners too. For Tuesday the local feature Noon Gun will be great to see. The biggest day and most challenging schedule-wise seems to be Wednesday with strange and wonderful films to pick from including Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room. The final day of the festival, Thursday, September 24 has great non-gala features playing throughout the day including the Holocaust drama Son of Saul as one of the films on a relatively full day of screenings.
Have a great festival and make sure that you share what you loved with the world. See you in the theatre!