News

Simcoe film festival has potential

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Elana Post, right, co-curator of the inaugural Routes to Roots Film Festival, greets film-goers at The Strand Theatre in Simcoe on Saturday afternoon. Michael-Allan Marion/The Expositor

Elana Post, right, co-curator of the inaugural Routes to Roots Film Festival, greets film-goers at The Strand Theatre in Simcoe on Saturday afternoon. Michael-Allan Marion/The Expositor

Only time will tell if the inaugural Routes to Roots Film Festival will be a successful annual exposition of films, but organizers, directors and those who lined up to buy tickets to the two-day event say it has all the ingredients.

“We’ve had a great response to the films shown Friday night,” said Elana Post, co-curator, along with Michael Chwastiak, of the festival’s lineup, as volunteers were preparing for Saturday’s screenings.

“People were here to make a night of it. They not only bought tickets for the first, but the second show as well.”

About 150 people turned out for Friday’s films.

Viewers saw the first film, In Her Place, done by Canadian director Albert Shin, then watched the second offering, Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse, a piece de la resistance by directors Etta Devine and Gabriel (Gabe) Diani.

“We had really positive feedback in the question and answer periods after each film. They ran overtime because so many people had a lot of questions,” Post said.

Post said she and Chwastiak chose award-winning films that were made by new film makers, particularly the four feature films.

“We chose distinctly different films that all followed our theme of returning to roots,” she said.

“We had an emphasis on rural themes and settings. We also looked at films where characters are returning to their roots. Those who watched them appeared to be very receptive.”

Chwastiak was heartened by the response to In Her Place, a Canadian/South Korean film co-written and directed by Shin, which dealt with a mutual arrangement that binds an affluent city woman to a mother and her pregnant teenaged daughter in rural South Korea.

“That movie was a very challenging one, but it became clear in the Q&A period that people really liked it,” said Chwastiak. “Albert told me afterward that the questions he was given were the best he’d heard.”

In an interview Saturday evening, Shin said the organizers put together a good event.

“I’ve been to dozens and dozens of film festivals around world, but without a doubt I was very touched by this one. Lots of inaugural festivals don’t do very well, but I believe this one has a lot of promise.

“It has good sponsors and everything has come together very well.

“What I really appreciate about this festival is that they went out of their way to choose challenging films.”

If filmmakers came they would be touched, he said.

“If the Routes to Roots Festival didn’t exist, people would never see my film in Simcoe.”

Diani said in a later interview he believed viewers appreciated his work in making Diani and Devine Meet the Apocalypse.

He and Devine had fun making an off-beat film on a quirky premise, the collapse of civilization.  The couple play themselves as struggling comedians and filmmakers in Los Angeles who must wrestle with the mundane – and not so mundane – realities of trying to find a safe place to live once society starts to fall apart.

“Everyone was laughing and having a good time,” Diani remarked.

He also had kudos for the festival organizers.

“They’re doing a bang up job. We’ve gone to a lot of film festivals. They are not all of equal quality,” said Diani.

“But the potential is enormous for this one to work.” 

The debut good spirit appeared to carry over into the next day. David and Daphanie Cole walked along the red carpet Saturday afternoon prepared for a lengthy viewing engagement.

“We came to see everything. A lot of what they’ve got is very interesting,” said David.

“This is our fourth film in the series,” said Daphanie. “They are all deep and provocative. They stimulate your mind and emotions.”

- Brantford Expositor

MMarion@postmedia.com