Aimee Wall, woman on the go

    Posted on: Friday, October 21st, 2011

As we were sipping wine at the Opening Night gala, I said to another former festival staffer how nice (and how odd!) it was to be standing still at the reception, relaxed and well-rested. But I have to admit that as the week has continued, there have been moments in which I’ve found myself missing that raw energy and those late nights. Maybe it’s because in thinking about the perks of being just an observer this year, I forgot about having to dash off to work elsewhere and miss out on some great programming. Or maybe it’s because in the past, some of my favourite festival moments have not taken place in front of any kind of screen, but have actually been in the in-betweens, like taking the extra-long way round to drop a filmmaker to the airport so that we could continue our week-long conversation and she could see the rest of the city.

I was able to check out Thursday’s lunchtime documentary screening – Tashina, an evocative short from Caroline Monnet, which gave us the story. simply and truthfully and in her own words, of Tashina’s move from the reservation to the city, from family and a ‘cramped but cozy’ house to a place where, as she says, there is nobody to hold her hand.

And then How Does It Feel, a beautiful film by Lawrence Jackman and produced by Annette Clarke, about a man named Kazumi, the difficult truths of living with disability in an able-bodied world, and the transformative power of art.

The little box lunches from Hungry Heart that were waiting for us in the Second Space post-screening were welcome not only for the food, but also for the chance to linger and discuss what we’d seen – the best kind of informal festival gathering, sitting on the floor of the Hall in one of many little clusters of excited conversation.


I was disappointed to miss the Conversation with Ingrid Veninger, as the scheduling had changed slightly and the outside world was calling and I had to rush off to work, but I ran up Duckworth Street as soon as my shift ended to catch the Sister Fa show at the Majestic. And I walked into a party still in full swing. The energy that I felt the moment I left the theatre on Tuesday night is everywhere, it seems, and till all hours. Something festival week never fails to deliver.

Thursday night at the SJIWFF

    Posted on: Friday, October 21st, 2011

More pictures from Malin Enstrom at Happy Fish photography.

© Enstrom

Lynn Kristmanson, director of Rescue Wife, at the LSPU Hall.

© Enstrom

Allison White, producer of A River In The Woods, and director of Decoloured, which is closing this year’s festival. Allison is the inaugural winner of the RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award.

© Enstrom

Niam Itani, director of Super. Full., joined us all the way from Lebanon.

© Enstrom

And later on in the evening… Here’s Neil Conway, of the Discounts, at the Majestic.

© Enstrom

Sister Fa! She put on an incredible show!

© Enstrom

More to come…

If you’d like a print of any of Malin’s photos, please email her at malin.enstrom@gmail.com. And please don’t use/post these photos without giving her a nod. Thanks!

Marthe Bernard learns to beat down

    Posted on: Thursday, October 20th, 2011


In Deanne Foley’s Beat Down, Marthe Bernard plays Fran, a young girl who wants to become a pro wrestler. To prepare for her role, Marthe trained in Toronto at a school for pro wrestling. I caught up with Marthe to ask her about her experiences there.

So, tell me about Fran.
Fran is a St. John’s girl. She grew up with a single father, and she has this dream of being a pro wrestler that encompasses everything for her. I think the wrestling world to her is glamorous, and she’s grown up in an unglamorous life with her dad in a modest house, in a modest life, so she puts a lot of stock into it. But yeah, she’s really strong willed and also a very sweet and naïve person. I think it’s a great set-up for the person she grows into.

And you went to a full-on pro wrestling school for a while, to train?
I did have a body double in the film but I did also do a lot of training myself, yeah. I was living in Toronto for the month before I came home to shoot and there was a wrestling gym called Squared Circle Wrestling and I’d go out and do these training session of two and half hours. I had joined this class for people who were just getting into it, and they were all way ahead of me – they were people who really wanted to do it, so it was terrifying at first. You have to be really fearless.

Anyway, I went out there and I trained with them and I just wanted to get the basics down so my body didn’t look way off. I ended up being able to do a couple of throws and holds, and I got to work with the girl who eneded up being my body double, and we were able to choregraoph the fights with Deanne. I was able to do most of it on my own.

The great thing is that Fran was a beginner, too. [laughs]

I got to interview the guys from Legend City Wrestling once, and I was amazed by all the schooling and training they did! I had no idea! It’s so intense and complicated.
They train for years and it’s super intense! It’s so physical. They’re doing these dangerous stunts and they have to have this trust with each other. A lot of them were some of the best kind of people that you’d ever meet, so I did trust them.

It’s definitely a different world, it’s a world that I never would have gotten a chance to see and I didn’t get to see enough of it.

What kind of people were training there?
There were all kinds of different people, definitely not one specific ‘type’ or anything. All different kinds of people.

My first class, I had to get the subway and then take the bus out to Jane and Finch, in North York, and that’s a rough neighbourhood. I was all like, ‘Where am I?’ But all the people that I met were so awesome and I want to give a shout to them, they’re the best.

How did they react to you?
They were all really curious and really weary about the movie. I had this one guy, one of my favourite teachers, trying to make me do this move where I had to flip the other person and he would yell, ‘Marthe if you don’t do this move, that movie’s going to suck!’ and I did it! I was really happy that he pushed.

I think they were all weary of me at first because I was useless. [laughs] I didn’t realize how much you had to just go for it, just be no holds barred, and I was all, “Oh God, can I really do this?” and I realized I had to go back with a different attitude.

I think they were doing this thing where they had to beat you down and see if you came back, and if you came back then you were in. I came back and they respected that, and they were all just awesome.

Do you feel a part of that world now, even a bit?
I felt like I was a part of it for a while. I got excited about it. I guess it’s like any world where the people that are in it really know the inside and I didn’t have any of that, but hanging out with them I thought that was really cool and I wanted to know more. I was having dreams about it, too! [laughs]

How are you feeling about the Beat Down premiere?
I’m nervous, I think it’s almost a bit more nerve racking to see it for the first time with a crowd of people that I know, but it’s also kind of nice because St. John’s is an amazing community. It’s my first starring role and I’m nervous to see the whole thing put together, but I think it’s going to be amazing.

Was there anything in your wrestling training that you can use to ease your nerves on opening night?
I wish! Maybe I can slam a few bodies just to let the stress out.

More pictures from Opening Night

    Posted on: Thursday, October 20th, 2011

More gorgeous pictures from Malin Enstrom.

© Enstrom

Festival founder, Chair of the Board of Directors and all-around dynamo, Noreen Golfman.

Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada

© Enstrom

Board member and host of CBC Here and Now Late Night, Jane Adey.

All set up for the Burning Hell.

© Enstrom

Natasha Hartery of the Burning Hell.

© Enstrom

Miss Newfoundland, Mandi Gale*, was kind enough to stop by and help us out!

© Enstrom

Long live Telefilm Canada.

© Enstrom

Allan Hawco of Republic of Doyle, with Carolle Brabant and Gord Whittaker of Telefilm Canada.

© Enstrom

Kay Woodford, former member of the SJIWFF Board of Directors, with SJIWFF Executive Director Kelly Davis and actress Mary-Lynn Bernard.

© Enstrom

Linda Wood and Nicole Trask of Film Nova Scotia.

If you’d like a print of any of these photos, email Malin Enstrom at malin.enstrom@gmail.com.

*Note that I had a mistake in the original post and said that mandi’s name was Rebecca Dawe. Sorry for the confusion and thanks for commenter Steve-O’s correction!
-Sarah

Pictures from Opening Night

    Posted on: Thursday, October 20th, 2011

These beautiful pictures were taken by Malin Enstrom, of Happy Fish Photography.

© Enstrom

The entire Arts and Culture Centre was done up in blue, white, purple and green feathers. Ostrich feathers, to be exact. Over to one side, where the band played were willowy metal trees with feather leaves. The place looked incredible.

© Enstrom

Set designer Michael Worthman, the man with the feathers and the brilliant ideas. He did an incredible job.

© Enstrom

Here’s Mathias Kom, of the Burning Hell, who performed after the Beat Down screening.

Happy festival-goers, including Charlotte Reid, Beat Down‘s costume designer.

© Enstrom

The Beat Down crew: Producer Paul Pope, Director Deanne Foley, her co-writer Iain MacLeod, and cast members Marthe Bernard, Mark O’Brien, and Andy Jones.

© Enstrom

Post-screening festivities.

© Enstrom

Emily Bridger, writer of the short film Kathy, which was directed by Mark O’Brien.

And speaking of Mark O’Brien, there he is!

That’s it for this post, folks. I’ll post more pictures tomorrow. I’ve got to rest up! Thursday is going to be a huge day (and night) at the SJIWFF.

If you’d like a print of any of these photos, email Malin Enstrom at malin.enstrom@gmail.com.