HUNTSVILLE – Forty-three films will be screened at Film North, Huntsville International Film Festival in a mere three days, starting Sept. 20.
“It’s a daunting task,” said Lucy Molnar Wing, founder and president of the festival.
Of those 43 films, 31 are Canadian.
“This is an interesting statistic even for us because our criteria for selecting films is excellence,” she said. “So it really seems that the Canadian films are rising to the top, they’re the cream of the crop from the submissions we received and we received over 100 submissions from all around the world. It’s a nice signal that the Canadian film industry is healthy.”
When creating Film North, Molnar Wing wanted to provide an environment for emerging Canadian and international filmmakers.
“Film North really ought to be the red letter weekend on September’s calendar here in Huntsville. It’s so special to have this event in Muskoka, on the doorstep of the community here,” she said. “It’s something that’s very well prized, conveniently scheduled, perfectly located, easily accessible and we have a selection of films that will appeal to everyone’s likes.”
While the festival may still be young, she said it’s certainly growing.
“We still consider ourselves the new kids on the block, just going into our third year,” said Molnar Wing. “But we have grown in the sense that there’s a larger awareness that we exist.”
While at the Cannes International Film Festival, Molnar Wing was pleasantly surprised she didn’t have to describe her festival as people were familiar with it from visiting the website.
“We always get compliments. Certainly I think we’ve grown our reputation and that’s very reinforcing for us,” she said. “Our team spends a lot of effort creating an atmosphere of calm and openness with our industry filmmakers and a welcome attitude to our audience and their opinions. So it’s meshing nicely.”
The films at this year’s festival are a mixture of documentaries, shorts, dramas, comedies and animation.
“We’re strong on drama, but we love to make people laugh too,” said Molnar Wing. “There’s something for everybody. The program is brilliant; each film has its merits. We think the audience will be well pleased.”
After encouraging filmmakers to submit animation films for the festival, Molnar Wing is pleased to have two on the program.
“They’re both fabulous,” she said.
One of the animated films was created by a Gr. 8 student, Ben Brook, who attends Greenwood College in Toronto. The film, Ostrichcized, follows a lonely, abandoned ostrich as he attempts to regain the respect of his flock. The short animation touches on bullying, exclusion and finding your hidden talent.
“It touches on a topic that’s very current right now, which is ostracization and bullying, a very big topic. It was huge at Hot Docs,” said Molnar Wing. “We don’t really want to inundate our audience with some of the social tragedies around attitude. So we were really thrilled when we saw this little three-minute animation because it allows the audience to see the story and make their own conclusion in a gentle way.”
A couple other films she’s excited about are a film by Huntsville filmmaker, Senthil Vinu called Waiting for Summer and a Hollywood production, Butter.
Waiting for Summer is a romantic drama about a young man and woman whose destinies collide as they try to deal with their difficult childhood.
“It’s not the only film made by a Muskoka filmmaker, but we’re proud of this one because it’s his breakout film,” said Molnar Wing.
Securing a Hollywood film was not an easy task.
“Us screening this (Butter) is the equivalent of us getting Moneyball before it had its world premiere,” she said.
Butter stars Olivia Wilde, Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell. It follows the wife of a butter-carving champion who decides to enter the competition herself when her husband is pressured to retire so a new champion can reign.
Opening night consists of four hand-selected films with an environmental focus.
“That one screening on Thursday night is one of my favourite screening segments,” she said. “They’re all water- and energy-themed films. I encourage attendance to that one.”
One of the films closing the festival on Sept. 22 is a documentary, Algonquin, directed by Hugo Kitching and cinematography by Jeremy Munce. It spans four seasons in the provincial park with a focus on natural and human stories as related to the many waters in the park.
“Folks who are able to attend the entire festival will come away on Saturday night absolutely delighted that they did so,” said Molnar Wing. “They will have screened films that will make them laugh, make them cry, that they’ll still be thinking of in the morning when they wake up and that will increase their awareness of current affairs globally.”
Film North will take place at the Algonquin Theatre from Sept. 20 to 22. For more information on the festival visit www.filmnorth.net