HUNTSVILLE - Forty-two films hit the silver screen as part of the Film North Huntsville International Film Festival and crowds of eager viewers were there to watch.
“We had a great turnout this week and it reinforces that you love having a film festival here in Huntsville,” said festival founder Lucy Wing on closing night.
The third annual festival ran from Thursday, Sept. 20 to Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Algonquin Theatre and actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, photographers, writers and other industry representatives came in droves to participate.
The star-studded gala closing night was well attended.
The evening screenings started with a short called Artist: Unknown by director Craig Goodwill.
The eight-minute film captured a fictional wake for artist Tom Thomson hosted by some of his friends, who would soon be members of the Group of Seven. The wake was attended by one of Thomson’s mistresses as well.
The film examined Thomson’s personal life. The short suggested that regardless of how well Thomson’s work is known, the artist himself is a mystery to many.
As the credits rolled the audience broke into boisterous applause.
The second short was a 30-minute film by director and former Huntsville High School graduate Jeremy Munce called Algonquin.
The film focused on Algonquin Provincial Park’s headwaters and waterways by turning water into the protagonist — the way the film was shot created the illusion of looking at the park’s landscape through the water’s eyes.
The beautiful water, flora and fauna, breathtaking landscapes and gorgeous wildlife shots drew gasps of awe from the audience and even a question about a park animal from an excited child during the screening.
The end of the film was met by a standing ovation.
When the house lights came up, Wing took the stage.
“We’re going to have to do this again,” she said to hoots and applause.
There was still a feature film to go, but the pause between it and the shorts was filled with an awards presentation.
Best Feature Length Film went to Waiting for Summer featuring Baysville native Caleb Verzyden. Director Senthil Vinu said the film was made possible through a team effort and gave special thanks to Verzyden for his never-ending effort.
Best Short Length Film went to Morning Zombies, a satirical look at coffee culture, directed by Lewis Hodgson.
The theme of the festival was the environment and Best Environmental Film went to Carbon for Water, directed by Evan Abramson and Carmen Elsa Lopez.
Best Documentary Film went to Sisters in Arms, a look at women in the military, directed and written by Beth Freeman.
The Golden Antler Viewer’s Choice Award winner was 2 Knocks directed by Jeremy Robertson and written by and starring Vanessa Smythe.
And the festival’s first juried award went to the Blue Flame Collective, a group of young Torontonians that played a large role in Film North this year, said organizers. The group’s mandate is to support Canadian content and get more young people involved in film.
The final award of the evening was the Riaz Tyab Bull’s Eye Lifetime Achievement Award. It was presented to actress Sheila McCarthy, known for her role in Little Mosque on the Prairie. McCarthy was also in the festival film I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing.
Organizers awarded McCarthy with the honour for her contributions to Canada through her art.
McCarthy, who attended the closing gala, said she would treasure the award. She applauded the festival.
“It’s venues like this that give young filmmakers a platform to validate themselves,” she said with appreciation.
She encouraged those young people to follow their passion for film.
“Keep going, keep believing in what you do even when it’s hard,” she said. “Keep knocking on those doors.”
Organizers noted they are looking forward to hosting the event again next year.