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EDITORIAL: Fictitious stories but true history from filmmaking program


The digital filmmaking program students’ intersession film project is this year featuring the story of the early years of the Stephenville Theatre Festival and its founder, Maxim Mazumdar.

That’s amazing and so appropriate in this 40th anniversary season for the Stephenville Theatre Festival — the longest-running theatre festival in the province.

In the film, a scene has been set of Mazumdar, a playwright, director and actor preparing for his eighth season with the local festival.

Knowing this could be his last, he is planning what he calls a “particularly ambitious season” with challenging shows and a world-renowned dancer.

The little theatre festival quickly grew after the stage was filled with the talents of well-known performers such as John Gilpin, Gordon Pinsent and Eric Bentley.

This year’s film director, John McKinnon, and the team of digital filmmaking students will bring Mazumdar’s dramatic and engaging story to life.

These films don’t just happen overnight, as there is a lot of effort that goes into them by the students, instructors and actors who are brought on to play the roles. There’s also lots of work with everything from costumes to finding the right locations.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of the intersession project is the hands-on experience students of digital filmmaking accrue from the project.

This is the seventh year for the project at the College of the North Atlantic in Stephenville, and there have been some great local stories told. While they are always fictitious stories, they are also always based on historical events.

Organized by digital filmmaking program instructors Peter Buckle and Keith Bonnell, this year’s project promises to be a high-end production that captures the essence of Mazumdar and the Stephenville Theatre Festival.

For the filmmaking program, it all started in 2012 with a film entitled “A Faery Tale,” a story about mythical Newfoundland faeries; 2013’s “A Mattie Mitchell Story,” about legendary guide and trapper Mattie Mitchell; 2014’s “A Familiar Stranger,” about local legend Mosey Murrin; 2015’s “Emile’s Legacy,” a story of world-renowned fiddler Emile Benoit meeting Figgy Duff; 2016’s “High Alert,” about the Ernest Harmon Air Force Base and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis; and 2017’s “Off Course,” about the involvement of Stephenville and the provincial college during the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks.

There have been lots of great subjects that highlight some of what could be considered folklore and some great characters, a lot of them from the Stephenville and the Bay St. George area.

All of them certainly make great conversation as they delve into history and always seem to bring out some facts that many people forgot or weren’t even aware of.

Despite the stories being fictitious, they are entertaining, and kudos to the program for being true to history.

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