Women's film festival wraps up

Tara Bradbury
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The team behind Swallowed, including writer/director Stephen Dunn (wearing a deer head), speaks to the audience at the closing gala for the 21st St. John's International Film Festival Saturday evening.

This year’s St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival made a mark on many of those who took part — some more than others.

“One of our international guests was so inspired by our little black dress (logo) that she ran downtown in St. John’s and got a tattoo of it,” Noreen Golfman, chairwoman of the festival’s board, told those who attended the closing screening and gala at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Saturday night.

The five-day festival, in its 21st year, saw more than 70 films by local, Canadian and international filmmakers, screened at venues around the city, along with workshops and panel discussions with people in the business.

The festival ended Saturday with a viewing of two of the award-winning films, “Swallowed” and “The Man of a Thousand Songs.”

“This was a totally spectacular five days. It was like a high-speed rollercoaster for many of us,” Golfman said. 

Written and directed by St. John’s native and Ryerson student Stephen Dunn (and produced with help from his mother, Linda Dunn), “Swallowed” was made for the Toronto International Film Festival’s Talent Lab’s Emerging Filmmakers’ competition, in which filmmakers were given three months and $500 to make a film with water as a theme. Dunn won $15,000 for his film as part of the RBC Emerging Filmmaker’s Awards at the Toronto film festival. He also won second place Jury Prize and the Fan Favourite Award for the short film, which tells the tale of a woman who spends her life in a cast iron bathtub, grieving her husband, after he’s swallowed by a whale.

“One of our international guests was so inspired by our little black dress (logo) that she ran downtown in St. John’s and got a tattoo of it.” Noreen Golfman, chairwoman of the festival's board

Dunn walked out onto the stage Saturday wearing a deer head.

“My mother really didn’t want me to do this, but you only get to be a young buck once,” he joked.

“The Man of a Thousand Songs,” William D. MacGillivray, Terry Greenlaw and Jordan Canning’s documentary of Ron Hynes, earned a standing ovation from the crowd.

The feature-length film, showcases Hynes’ life on the road, his relationships, his near-fatal battle with cocaine addiction, his subsequent recovery and his life as a dual figure: one side Ron, the other his alter-ego, called simply “The Man.”

Hynes’ nephew, writer Joel Thomas Hynes, plays a significant part in the film, talking about his uncle, “saying things on camera that I can’t say to his face.”

“With Ron, it’s really difficult to break through to the man you want to talk to,” Hynes said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s on camera or not — there’s always a performance barrier.”

Hynes told The Telegram he’s seen the film four or five times, having attended its premiere at the Toronto festival and the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax, and is pleased with it. Though it exposes much about his past, he said he’s OK with that.

“It’s not like I told any secrets,” he explained. “They’re old stories for me, and it’s another way of moving on. That was him, this is me now.”


Organizations: Talent Lab, RBC Emerging Filmmaker

Geographic location: Toronto, Halifax

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