A reel fun time

Nickel Independent Film Festival opens June 17, with an eclectic lineup

Published on June 3, 2014

Two years of planning condensed into five days — that’s how Darcy Ward describes the process of making his first film.

He wrote the short on a Thursday, filmed it the following Saturday, spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday editing, and had the finished product in hand a day later.

Called “The Manslator,” the film is a comedy, about what would happen if men could hire professional translators who could tell them what women were actually saying.

Ward had a couple of Newfoundland Filmmakers Co-operative filmmaking courses under his belt, and, a lover of the Nickel Independent Film Festival, had been planning for nearly five years to shoot and submit a film.

“I spent two years looking for something meaningful, but this was so funny,” Ward said of “The Manslator.”  “It came out a lot better than I expected. Once I decided, it’s almost like the universe aligned to make it happen.”

“The Manslator” will screen as part of this year’s Nickel Festival, to be held at the LSPU Hall in St. John’s June 17-21. With a mandate to provide Newfoundland and Labrador filmmakers with a venue to show their work, the festival will see 36 films screened over the course of five nights, 58 per cent of them local. The rest come from across the country, the United States, France and Ireland.

“It’s our highest number (of local films) in quite some time,” explained festival co-ordinator Matt Wright.

“It’s definitely something to be proud of and I think that speaks very highly to the kind of things that are going on in the film scene in this province right now. The local content stacks up very well with the global submissions, and we’re very pleased.”

A number of the films are the product of various contests the festival has held over the year, like the 24 Hour Horror Challenge and cinepoetry and 8 mm competitions.

Apart from “The Manslator,” local films screening include Martine Blue’s “Me2,” Ruth Lawrence’s “Talus & Scree,” Christian Sparkes’ “The Offering,” and Patrick Condon and Mike Ciuffini’s “Infanticide!,” which recently screened during the Marché du film at the Cannes Film Festival.

“We’re riding this Cannes success a little bit. We’re having fun with it and we’ve gotten some great feedback from other filmmakers that attended Cannes, and they loved it. Just hearing that from other filmmakers across the country keeps us going,” Ciuffini said.

“Infanticide!,” starring Krystin Pellerin and Justin Nurse, is about a couple living in a world where families are allowed only one child.

“It’s a satire. It’s a comedy; we’re not killing babies on screen or anything like that,” Ciuffini explained.

“Pat brought me the script about a year before we shot it, and I thought it was a great social commentary-type comedy. It’s a kind of niche market that hasn’t been tapped into, especially here. Once we got to shooting was when I really felt confident the film was going to be a good one, because it’s such a touchy subject.”

The festival will feature a special screening of “Sister Morphine,” a documentary by Mark Hoffe and Brad Gover about Newfoundland and Labrador nurses struggling with addiction to the drugs they administer, followed by a panel discussion.

Another of Hoffe and Gover’s films, “Bubble Dancers,” will be previewed as part of a partnership with the National Film Board. It’s an interactive documentary, the first of its kind in this province, which features video, photography, recorded audio, soundscapes and avant-garde music. Filmed in St. John’s, “Bubble Dancers” explores the lives of 10 dishwashers.

“Bringing the dish pit to the desk top, ‘Bubble Dancers’ takes us into the restaurant industry through the back doors and alleyways of St. John’s, introducing us to men and women whose voices are usually never heard and who are drowned out by the clatter of cutlery and clinging of pots and pans,” said Melissa Carrera, the Nickel’s new executive director. “It’s very exciting and very new.”

Along with film screenings the festival, as always, will host a number of workshops on topics like screenwriting, marketing and public relations and pitching film ideas, as well as a discussion on lobbying and influencing public and government opinion through social media, lead by Marit Stiles of ACTRA.

For a complete festival schedule and ticket information, visit www.nickelfestival.com.


Twitter: @tara_bradbury