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Wendy Rose: St. John's Nickel Film Festival shines

Artist Christopher Pratt is shown on the set of “Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Words of Christopher Pratt. Photo courtesy of Kenneth J. Harvey
Artist Christopher Pratt is shown on the set of “Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Words of Christopher Pratt". Photo courtesy of Kenneth J. Harvey - Contributed

53 films shown this year

That's a wrap: the 2018 Nickel Independent Film Festival Five days, 48 short films, five feature films, six workshops and events, and just 500 words to summarize the amazing annual Nickel Independent Film Festival.

Running from Tuesday, June 19 to Sunday, June 23, this year’s festival showcased local, Canadian and international talent at The LSPU Hall and The Rooms.

Unable to move into either of these venues to attend every screening, I picked my events carefully, opting to check out Kenneth J Harvey’s “Immaculate Memories: The Uncluttered Worlds of Christopher Pratt” on June 20, and “F-Yeah, Short Films!” and “Crown and Anchor” on June 22.

Amongst the sold-out crowd of the June 20 screening of “Immaculate Memories,” was Christopher Pratt himself. 

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Logo

Together, we watched the three short films:(A Dreaming House” (N.L.), “Lady M” (U.K.), and “KCLOC” (U.S.A.) before the evening’s feature presentation, which brought the audience along for a road trip with Pratt and filmmaker Harvey, travelling across the island to visit places that had inspired some of the artist’s many works.

I expected to weep, as I had done during Harvey’s documentary on the late Gerald Squires, but this film was generally light-hearted and humorous, touching in a different way – Pratt’s life and works is so much more than just “the man who designed the Newfoundland flag,” and it was interesting and edifying to learn about the artist and his art on the silver screen.

After a lovely beginning to my Nickel Festival experience, I excitedly returned to the Hall on Friday for “F-Yeah, Short Films!”, a series of short films with an F-Rating — meaning the film has been directed or written by a woman. Out of the 53 films shown this year, 28 films were rated F.

The local films — Heidi Coombs-Thorn’s documentary, “Avon Ladies Rural Style,” Rhonda Buckley’s “Life’s Short: Wear the Sparkly Earrings” – were among my favourites, but it was two Canadian films, “10-Minute Time Machine” and “Whyte Snuff” that stood out as personal favourites.

There was a helluva lot more talent to come that evening, with shorts “To Have and To Howl” (N.L.) and “Second to None.” 

Newfoundlanders and filmmakers (from left) Mike Rowe, Matt Wells and Andrew Rowe at a screening of their debut feature film "Crown and Anchor."
Newfoundlanders and filmmakers (from left) Mike Rowe, Matt Wells and Andrew Rowe at a screening of their debut feature film "Crown and Anchor."

The Friday night presentation of “Crown and Anchor” was the most highly anticipated event of the 2018 NIFF for me — I salivated over the trailer and punk rock soundtrack months before.

With a cast and crew of N.L.ers, the film starred Michael Rowe, Matt Wells, Robert Joy, and Andy Jones, and was directed by Andrew Rowe.

Set in St. John’s, the film shows the grittier side of the colourful city we know and love, telling a gripping story of a family’s strained relationship, compounded by difficult pasts, substance abuse, and crime.

Although two hours long, as the final scene wrapped up, I heard an audience member say, “Oh no, it’s over already?”
Luckily, there’s room for a sequel and/or prequel with “Crown and Anchor,” and hopefully we’ll see more of Rowe and Wells together on screen, creating art on home soil.

I’ll attend that Nickel Independent Film Festival screening, for sure.

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