Nothing like the Nickel

Justin Brake
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Film festival attracts entries from home and away

The Nickel Independent Film Festival is celebrating its eighth anniversary this year with five days of screenings and a series of workshops for filmmakers, screenwriters, actors and the public.

The event, which runs June 24-28, will showcase 47 new films from various countries, including England, Spain, Ireland, Japan, Germany and the United States, as well as more than a dozen productions from Newfoundland.

The Cave: Plato's Allegory in Clay" will play at the festival - Submitted photo

The Nickel Independent Film Festival is celebrating its eighth anniversary this year with five days of screenings and a series of workshops for filmmakers, screenwriters, actors and the public.

The event, which runs June 24-28, will showcase 47 new films from various countries, including England, Spain, Ireland, Japan, Germany and the United States, as well as more than a dozen productions from Newfoundland.

The evening screenings, during which the majority of the films are shown, run from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at LSPU Hall each night during the festival. Two 10:30 p.m. late-night screenings have been incorporated into the schedule to offer horror movie buffs an opportunity to see all the scary flicks in one shot, and to make time for Spanish director Emsi Primo's feature-length drama "My Way."

"We had so many horror films submitted so we did a late-night screening last year that was completely sold-out in advance," says Ruth Lawrence, the festival's executive director. "We kind of expect the same thing this year because it was amazing. A totally different audience for us, too. It was great."

Local filmmaker and festival founder Roger Maunder will facilitate the Super 8mm Workshop June 24 when three filmmakers will be provided with a camera and stock, guided in shooting a three-minute short and will edit in-camera all in the same day.

"When you're trying to make a three-minute film with three minutes of film," says Maunder, "it's about being prepared to do what you've set out to do."

Without microphones on the cameras, the shorts are shot as silent films but are later married with music performed by St. John's Jazz Festival musicians.

The resulting work of last year's Super 8mm Workshop participants Liz Solo, Sherri Levesque and Lois Brown will be shown on opening night this year.

Newfoundland actor Robert Joy, who plays Dr. Sid Hammerback on "C.S.I.: NY," will facilitate the day-long Character, Scene, Investigation Workshop June 26, which will give 12 participants the chance explore screenplay analysis and the nuances of television and film acting.

"(Bob) wanted us to keep the crowd small so he could work one-on-one with the actors," says Lawrence, adding the workshop needs spectators and is open to anyone interested in coming out to audit.

On June 27, the fourth annual Screenplay Series will give screenwriters a chance to work with a director and professional actors and receive feedback on their scripts. In the afternoon the works in progress will be presented to a public audience at the LSPU Hall, where people can give their own feedback to the writers.

New attraction

New to the festival's lineup of activities this year is the Filmmakers Panel and Luncheon at the Casbah restaurant on June 25. There, people will have an opportunity to pick the brains of some of the filmmakers whose works will be screened this year, including locals Jordan Canning, Justin Simms and Nathan Zimmerman, as well as Eva Madden of Halifax.

The debut of Canning's "Kitchen" on June 25 will mark the St. John's filmmaker's fourth consecutive year having her work screened at the festival and she anticipates sharing her experience at the luncheon.

"I have a feeling (the questions) are going to be about filmmakers at different stages in their careers, or moving from shorts into features," she says.

Back by popular demand, adds Lawrence, is the Children's Screening on Saturday, June 28 at 1 p.m. which also acts as a fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

"We're showing the Tail Spinners collection," she explains. "It's this series of animated shorts taken from books by people like Robert Munsch, and animators have made short films out of them. They look great."

One of the more notable aspects of this year's festival, says Lawrence, is that such a large number of the films submitted were from Newfoundland filmmakers.

"We had tons that we had to turn down. That's the hardest part," she says. "Partly due to the success of the NIFCO First Filmmaker's Course we get lots of short films, and also partly due to the fact that Newfoundlanders are good at making short films."

From a local filmmaker's perspective, adds Canning, the festival is a great opportunity to debut new work.

"The Nickel always has a grassroots, downhome feel which is why it's a good place to show your film first," she says, "because you are generally surrounded by people in your community who either helped you make your film or were in the film, or hung out with you while you were making the film, so it's a good warm-up for other festivals and screenings."

Though his work on a current project will limit Maunder's involvement with the festival this year, he says he is pleased to see so many Newfoundland filmmakers entering their work.

"The whole point was to support local filmmakers and give them a venue to show their films," he says. "After the first two years I started to see that it was going to go places. To have so many filmmakers from around the globe (submitting) their work is great."

Simms' first feature length film "Down to the Dirt," which features a slew of Newfoundland talent including Joy, Joel Hynes - whose novel inspired the movie - Mary Lewis, Sherry White and Jody Richardson, will be shown at Empire Studio 12 as part of a pre-festival fundraiser event June 23 at 7 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $15 at Capitol Video on Military Road.




Schedule

Tuesday, June 24: 7:30 p.m.
"Moose Adventures" Stephenville
"Eastern Shore" Halifax
"Un p'tit vent d'inconsÉquence" Montreal, Que.
"Sir Francis Drake, Queen's Pirate" Toronto
Super 8 Series St.John's
"Rebel Song" New Haven, Conn.
"Old Man" Toronto
"Tiger Tom" St. John's
"Terminal Communication" Enniscorthy, Ireland
"A Fitting Tribute" London, U.K.
Opening night party, The Last Drop 10:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 25: 7:30 p.m.
"Pretty Girls" Toronto
"Bird Lady" Toronto
"The Telephone Eulogies" Alcove, Que.
"Vengeance" Montreal
"One of Us Cannot Be Right" St. John's, NL
"Save the World" Spain, U.K.
"The Devil's in Ya" St. John's
"5 Cents a Peek" San Fransisco
"Kitchen" St. John's
"Horsepower" Honolulu, Hawaii
Thursday June 26
Regular screening, 7:30 p.m.
"People Who Stay" St. John's
"City Song: Story of a Busker" St. John's, NL
"Operation Filmmaker" New York, N.Y./U.K.
Horror Show: 10:30 p.m.
"VCR" St. John's
"Panels for the Walls of Hell" Atlanta, Ga.
"Silence" California
"The Wretched" U.S.A.
Friday June 27: 7:30 p.m.
"Moose of La Mancha" Montreal.
"Every Six Months ..." Ottawa
"Lost Things" Toronto "Lionel Lonely Heart" St. John's "I Am Pillowcat" Clairmont, N.J.
"Mary Power: A Lifetime of Stories" St. John's
"Hey Rosetta! The Year You Were Born" Fredricton
"Epilogue" St. John's
"Die Flugbegleiterin" Berlin
"The Cave: Plato's Allegory in Clay" Broomfield, Colo.
"I Just Want to Eat My Sandwich" Arlington, Maine
"Mr. Jones" St. John's
Special Screening, 10:30 p.m.
"My Way" Spain
Saturday June 28
Children's Screening, 1 p.m.
A variety of children's films to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters Various
7:30 p.m. screening
"Transrexia" New York, N.Y.
"Amelia and Michael" London, U.K.
"Diamonds in a Bucket" St. John's
"Kodiak" Vancouver
"Ruins" St. John's
"Au Bout du Rang" Montreal
"Boyfriend Latte" Toronto
"Marionette" Tokyo
Closing night party
Tickets $10, Festival Pass $50, for info call the LSPU Hall, 753-4531, or click on www.nickelfestival.com.

Organizations: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Screenplay Series, NIFCO First Filmmaker Empire Studio 12 Queen's

Geographic location: St. John's, Newfoundland, California Spain Ireland England Japan Germany United States Toronto U.K. Montreal London New York, N.Y. Military Road Montreal, Que New Haven Enniscorthy Ya Honolulu Atlanta, Ga. La Mancha Ottawa Berlin Arlington Maine Vancouver Rang Tokyo

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