Atlantic International Film Festival Preview #AIFF2023

Great to see the return of the Atlantic International Film Festival for 2023, and an edition where the awkward branding of FIN has finally been dismissed.

I understood what they were trying to do with it, to unite all the various elements of the festival’s schedule through the year — including programs for kids and families — under one banner. But, the name, FIN, was dumb. And it’s clear Executive Director Martha  Cooley, now in her second year,  wants to reassert the centrepiece of the organization, the festival itself.

Welcome back to AIFF! (Go here for the program.)

The days of the epic print guide may be behind us, but I appreciated a brochure guide available around town to give us an idea of what’s on offer.

As I write this I’m still in Toronto, heading back to Nova Scotia soon — fingers crossed before Hurricane Lee — and my head is full of TIFF, the sprawling Toronto festival taking place the week before its smaller Atlantic cousin. This said, a few films have already jumped out at me from what’s on offer in Halifax.

AIFF is serving a banquet of international cinema: Consider the Argentinian heist comedy, The Delinquents, Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki’s Fallen Leaves, Hirokazu Koreeda‘s return with Monster,  Turkish drama About Dry Grasses, Alice Rochrwacher’s Italian fable La Chimera, wily veteran Ken Loach’s new picture, The Old Oak, or the French Palme D’Or winner, Anatomy Of A Fall. 

Fascinating to see Wim Wenders with a feature film getting all kinds of approbation, the Japan-set, Perfect Days. He’s a filmmaker with a legendary back catalogue in the ’80s and ’90s — The American Friend and Paris, Texas two of my favourites —  but more recently has found more critical success with documentaries.

I’ve seen a few of the AIFF line-up at TIFF, including Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person, Limbo, Seagrass, and the opening night film, Queen Of My Dreamsclick on those links for reviews.

It makes me happy a few titles on the AIFF slate slot into the horror genre — including Red Rooms and Deliver Us. Too often genre is the red-headed stepchild in festival programming.

Of course, the Atlantic Film Festival also forefronts local cinema — along with Queen of my Dreams is Newfoundland filmmaker Christian Sparkes representing with two features — Sweetland and The King Tide. 

We’re also getting a chance to see some fascinating-looking documentaries, including Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe, which will give us a look at the work of beloved children’s entertainer Ernie Coombs, Hot-Docs award-winner I Lost My Mom, and the newest film from superlative Halifax documentarian Megan Wennberg, Unsyncable, about synchronized swimming seniors.

I’ve seen one of this year’s documentaries in advance, here’s a review:

Analogue Revolution: How Feminist Media Changed the World | Directed by Marusya Bociurkiw

This is an effort to provide an archival look at the efforts of feminist printing and publishing going back more than 50 years, to move the needle for the rights of women in Canada: periodicals like the Womonspace Newsletter, PedestalBroadside Feminist Review, Amazons of Yesterday, Lesbians of Today, A New Way of Living, Matriart Magazine, Tiger Lily, Diva Magazine, Our Lives Black Woman’s Newspaper, and Pandora here in Halifax. The doc also digs into the influence of women on the National Film Board, with Nova Scotia filmmaker Sylvia Hamilton talking about her picture Black Mother Black Daughter and the Reel Life Women’s Media Collective. The film offers an excellent cross-section of information and the legacy of women’s courage to push back at patriarchal systems, which is fascinating, but in an effort to be comprehensive it lacks focus. It jumps from publication to publication and era to era without providing much of a chance to get to know the many people onscreen or fully understand what they accomplished.

Check back in the days ahead for more AIFF reviews.

About the author


Carsten Knox is a massive, cheese-eating nerd. In the day he works as a journalist in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At night he stares out at the rain-slick streets, watches movies, and writes about what he's seeing.