I’ve been attending the Atlantic Film Festival—as either a film fan or a film writer—since 2003. I’ve seen it grow to a 10 day event with more than 200 films, and I’ve seen it shrink back down to a more manageable 120 screenings. I’ve seen red carpet sell-out events at the Oxford Theatre and the Park Lane cinema hallways full-to-bursting with the genuine Halifax film-loving community. I dig that the first screenings to sell out are the shorts programs as the local filmmakers’ friends and family all come out to support their creative endeavours as many chase the dream of a career in film.
And now we have a new version of the Atlantic Film Festival, rebranded for 2017 as FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival.
Historically, the festival has provided opportunities to see quality films in advance of their release dates at the multiplex, though I always try and prioritize a few of the more obscure fare that won’t get a cinematic release at all. I tend to avoid those films with releases in the very near future. For example, the second Boston bombing drama to get a 2017 release, Stronger, will be out in cinemas September 22nd. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down The White House, starring Liam Neeson, is slated to be out September 29th. Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis and starring Andrew Garfield, will be here in October.
A couple of updates from the printed schedule: Viceroy’s House has been dropped due to its having opened out at Bayer’s Lake. Replacing it is Sally Potter’s The Party. Reviews for the film are strong, and while it’s hard to argue with the presence of Patricia Clarkson and Kristin Scott Thomas, I find Sally Potter’s films tedious in the extreme, so you won’t find me there. More interesting is the addition of The Florida Project from Sean Baker, the filmmaker behind Tangerine. It plays late on the last day of the fest, and I hope to see it. And another late addition, Reuben Östlund’s The Square, the big winner at Cannes. If anyone saw Östlund’s last feature, Force Majeure, which showed at Carbon Arc, you’ll know what a talent he is.
So, what should I prioritize on the night, and which of the lesser-known international features deserves a slot? And how many shorts programs can I fit in? It takes research, planning, and a bit of dice-rolling to make it work. I consulted some of my fellow programmers at Carbon Arc, and their picks varied greatly from mine.
This far out I hedge my bets. Following is a list of feature films and docs that have my curiosity, and may yet have my attention. Tough decisions will follow since many of these screenings overlap, not to mention the shorts programs. For now, imagine I’m able to bend the laws of physics and be in more than one place at a time. If I could do that, I’d see all of these:
Thursday, September 14
Long Time Running
Friday, September 15
The Child Remains, The Other Side of Hope, Mary Shelley
Saturday, September 16
The Square, Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience, The Halifax Explosion, You Ruined Our Life!, Ava, Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, Loveless, Sweet Virginia, Room For Rent
Sunday, September 17
Stalker, The Divine Order, Body Language Decoded, Zachary Richard: Cajun Heart, Suck It Up, Have A Nice Day, A Fantastic Woman, The Crescent
Monday, September 18
Lucky, Black Cop, Small Town Crime, Racer And The Jailbird
Tuesday, September 19
A Better Man, A Worthy Companion, Play Your Gender, Loving Vincent, In Syria, Borg/McEnroe, How To Talk To Girls At Parties
Wednesday, September 20
Geek Girls, BPM (Beats Per Minute), Small Town Show Biz, Novitiate, Happy End, Suspiria
Thursday, September 21
Human Flow, Call Me By Your Name, The Florida Project, Vidar The Vampire
I’ll get to see a few films in advance, so I’ll post again with those reviews on Thursday. See you at the festival!