Parrsboro is showing it has the little film festival that can compete with some of the best around.
The ninth edition of the film festival will take place Oct. 25 to 27 at The Hall with three days of short films that will see people coming from Halifax, Moncton, Amherst and elsewhere to promote and support Atlantic filmmakers.
“We’re very excited about this year’s lineup,” festival co-chair Helen Tyson said. “We try to get a speaker with every piece of film and we’re pretty close to that.”
From the very first festival in 2011, Tyson has seen growth in the three-day event. She said the goal from the very beginning has been promote Atlantic films and filmmakers by creating an intimate and cozy, but professional, atmosphere and environment where people can interact.
This year’s featured filmmaker is Deanne Foley, who’ll present two short films during the gala opening night, followed by her award-winning feature film An Audience of Chairs.
The film, based on a novel by Joan Clark, is about a woman struggling with mental illness as she tries to cope with losing custody of her two children.
Foley will introduce the film and answer questions after its conclusion.
Saturday features a short film competition featuring short films of up to five minutes and longer ones of approximately 20 minutes – although the organizing committee has loosened the rules a bit to make more films eligible.
While the ballots are being counted, 12 Dogs Drive: The Run Home will be featured. Justin Allen and his dog team travel from Churchill, Man. to Saint John. Allen and producer Greg Hemmings will introduce the film and answer questions after.
Also featured during the second day of the festival will be a documentary about artist Geoff Butler, Off the Beaten Path, by Devin Fraser, who will also speak about the film.
Rounding out the day is Assholes: A Theory, “a savagely entertaining documentary” by acclaimed director John Walker and inspired by the book by Aaron James. Walker, as well, will introduce the film and answer questions after.
The final day of the festival will again see a free Sunday morning of films including The Girl from Nordland, a film about a model who posed for – and inspired – Edvard Munch. Also showing is Standing on the Line, a documentary about how the careers of Olympic-class athletes are impacted when they declare their sexuality openly.
After lunch, and for $15, featured films include Conviction, Beautifully Savage, Hopeless Romantic and The King of Fish and Chips.
Conviction is a documentary about the rising number of women in prison that flips the narrative away from pop culture’s voyeuristic lens and hands it to the women who are being victimized.
Beautifully Savage is a short documentary by Ben Proudfoot, Hopeless Romantic is a feature film with six directors, including Foley, and explores romantic love. The King of Fish and Chips is another short documentary by Proudfoot about Haddon Salt’s 1960s fast-food empire.
For $48 participants get two-and-a-half days of films and the tickets are transferable so if ticket buyers can’t get to all the films they can give their ticket to someone else.
Tyson is amazed at the progress made by the festival from its small beginning.
“It was (co-chair) Lori Lynch’s dream. Her sister makes films and she attends film festivals, like in Fredericton. We had twice a month movies at the hall and we thought why don’t we try a festival? It took a bit to convince the others, but she was right and there has definitely been a calling for it,” she said. “Many of the people who come to our festival, don’t have a chance to get to a film festival.”
She said the film festival has, along with events and workshops organized by Parrsboro Creative, has helped give Parrsboro a reputation as an arts and culture centre.
It’s something board member Clarissa McCully noticed quickly upon her return to Parrsboro several years ago.
“I was born and raised here and moved back about four years ago. I didn’t know anything about the film festival or Parrsboro Creative, but people, like myself, are starting to notice Parrsboro and what it offers,” she said. “Things are changing and Parrsboro is getting noticed.”