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VIFF was the first festival in Canada where my work was respected, promoted and championed and for that I will always be indebted to them.Sofia Bohdanowicz, dir. Never Eat Alone (VIFF 2016)
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Canadian Filmmakers share their VIFF experiences
I can speak fondly of the experience of being programmed in VIFF’s Future//Present section. This unique programme for Canadian films has created a space for underrepresented artists to showcase their work and the great benefit to attending the festival is meeting new friends and colleagues. Bringing filmmakers from across the country together these meetings can develop into lifelong relationships and collaborations.
Calvin Thomas, dir. The Oxbow Cure (VIFF 2013)
In 2015 I had just completed my first feature film “Never Eat Alone” and was having a hard time getting it programmed. It was a micro budget film of $7,500 which I made with the assistance of an Ontario Arts Council Grant and I was anxious to find an audience. A year went by and I still didn’t have any luck, I was starting to worry that the film wouldn’t have a film festival life or trajectory and was beginning to believe that the film might not screen anywhere at all. One day I remembered that I hadn’t yet applied to VIFF, I promptly sent in an email and waited patiently. A few months later we received an email from Adam Cook that my film had been selected to screen in a new and homegrown program called “Future//Present”.
I met with Adam and he told me that he had designed the program to highlight the surge of independent and innovative Canadian cinema that had been having a hard time finding a home due to its incompatibility with main stream programming. Since “Never Eat Alone” is a docu-fiction film I had a challenging time placing it within film festival circuits because it was a film with a loose narrative but also wasn’t extremely experimental. Programmers at other festivals weren’t sure what to do with it and weren’t willing to risk placing it in their respective programs. In September of 2016, I premiered the film to a sold out, interested and curious audience and had a rich discussion moderated by Adam. My grandmother stars in the film and she was so impressed by his professionalism, generosity and sensitivity as a programmer in presenting my work. The film went on to win an award for “Emerging Canadian Filmmaker” at the festival and my career has ramped up to a fast pace ever since.
In the spring of 2017, I was subsequently chosen for a retrospective at BAFICI and began screening my films in festivals I had always wanted to play like HotDocs and RIDM. As I write this, I am at an airport on my way home from the Locarno film festival where a short film I made, a follow up to “Never Eat Alone”, just had its world premier. The boost that Adam Cook’s Future//Present program gave me as an artist and filmmaker was beyond invaluable. Due to Adam’s sharp eye and strength to speak up and champion my films I suddenly had a brilliant platform to share my work, it completely changed the way I move through the film industry. Although I live in Toronto, whenever I screen at VIFF, it feels like I’m home. VIFF was the first festival in Canada where my work was respected, promoted and championed and for that I will always be indebted to them.
Bringing a film to any festival means you get to discover a city’s unique film culture and share your work with a new audience In 2016 I had the pleasure of presenting two debut features at the festival. These small films are not online and not on DVD, so the festival tour is the only place where audiences get to see the work. I have fond memories of intelligent, engaged and spirited reactions to the films we showed—being able to hear instant reaction from audiences, hear them relate to certain elements and listen to their interpretations is a great joy.
I can speak fondly of the experience of being programmed in VIFF’s Future//Present section. This unique programme for Canadian films has created a space for underrepresented artists to showcase their work and the great benefit to attending the festival is meeting new friends and colleagues. Bringing filmmakers from across the country together these meetings can develop into lifelong relationships and collaborations. It is so vital for a festival to be able to facilitate these interactions with audience and filmmaker and being supported to travel and attend festivals like VIFF is so crucial to nurturing emerging artists.