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Lights, camera, action — Nickel Independent Film Festival starts June 19 in St. John’s

From left, Veronica Dymond, communications co-ordinator for the Nickel Independent Film Festival, filmmaker Joshua Jamieson and Elling Lien, executive director of the Nickel Independent Film Festival, outside the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative after the festival’s launch on Tuesday.
From left, Veronica Dymond, communications co-ordinator for the Nickel Independent Film Festival, filmmaker Joshua Jamieson and Elling Lien, executive director of the Nickel Independent Film Festival, outside the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative after the festival’s launch on Tuesday. - Andrew Waterman

Boasting an array of genres across its 50 submissions

A small crowd gathered at the headquarters of the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-operative (NIFCO) in downtown St. John’s Tuesday to hear what this year’s Nickel Independent Film Festival has to offer.

A number of firsts are scheduled for the festival, including a feature-length film by local writer and director Andrew Rowe called “Crown and Anchor,” a stop-motion animation video for local band Land of the Lakes by Danielle Hamel, and the first dramatic film written and directed by Joshua Jamieson.

“The Nickel is a really fantastic platform for both emerging and established filmmakers to sit next to one another,” Jamieson said. “The festival creates a really interesting eco-system for filmmakers.”

Films by award-winning directors such as Alan Zweig and Kenneth J. Harvey, as well as films from the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S., France, Mexico, Finland, Austria, Ireland, India and Canada will be shown throughout the week.

Even with so much of the world being represented this year, half of the program is made up of Newfoundland and Labrador-produced content.

“It’s a great platform for celebrating film that people wouldn’t normally see,” festival executive director Elling Lien said. “The Nickel provides … a diversity of voices, smaller films, quieter stories or even more violent stories — whatever stories people want to tell. … It’s all over the place.”

While the festival takes place over a week in June each year, other events throughout the year encourage people to take the leap into unfamiliar — and potentially frightening — territory.

“I’ve always been really encouraged by the things that happen throughout the year,” Lien said. “The most popular one is the 48-hour horror challenge.”

This October, participants will be given a weekend to write, shoot and edit a five-minute horror film.

Even sooner is the one-minute movie weekend on June 16, where participants are asked to “go to NIFCO at 10 a.m., form a random crew, and write, shoot and edit a one-minute film together over the weekend,” according to the festival schedule.

“Over the years it’s grown,” Lien said. “It’s a real DIY film movement. It helps with professionals, it helps with beginners, and it brings all those people together in interesting ways.

“It turns out really interesting things and ends up being a kind of incubator.”

Similar challenges are scheduled for February and March 2019, including the 48-hour rom-com challenge and “The Definitely Not Faked Paranormal Footage Challenge.”

Aside from the screenings and challenges, there are workshops, including “Film School in a Day,” which goes through composition, sound, writing, editing, animation and how to make a living in the film industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Inspired by other festivals throughout the world, the Nickel Independent Film Festival has introduced a new “F-Rating” system to note any films that showcase female talents, onscreen or behind the camera.

The festival runs from June 19-23. Tickets are available online, by phone or at the LSPU Hall.

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