Posted on: Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
Opening night is officially in the bag for the 13th annual Nickel Independent Film Festival. How was it? Who stole the show? What did you miss? Well that’s what I’m here to tell you about.
The show started at 8:00 but I headed down a little early to grab my ticket and enjoy some pre-show fun. The bar is open and the place is buzzing by the time I get there. Outside the Hall, the great talent from Wonderbolt Circus is on display. The environment is fun, the people are friendly, this is what the Nickel is about.
Shortly after 8:00 the action moves to the main theatre. I got to enjoy some reserved seating near the back so I could take notes and tweet throughout the night without disturbing the rest of the guests. Thankfully, the cozy size of the theater allows for optimal viewing wherever you find yourself.
After some introductions and greetings moderated by the lovely Janelle Hickey, the show begins.
Everything kicks off with the 8MM series. To anyone new to the Nickel, this is an annual series where directors are given a day to create a short film in the classic 8MM format. I love the look of these films. 8MM offers such a natural, warm feeling that it’s hard to not fall in love. It hearkens back to a time when film making was an almost strictly visual medium.
This year we are treated to two films, Outfitted and The Case of the Mondays. Directed by locals Michael Fisher and Emily Bridger respectively. Both films gave exactly what you would expect from 8MM films shot in one day. Simple, effective storytelling with a nice sprinkle of humor thrown in for good measure. The cherry on top came with the addition of a live score for each of the films. Without dialogue, 8MM needs a good score to give it some added flow. To get this in the form of live music was absolutely amazing. Definitely a Nickel memory that’s going to stick.
Next up was the animated offering of the students at the College of the North Atlantic campus in Stephenville. Sign Clad Hills is full of good old fashioned Newfoundland humor with a touch of social commentary. It’s amazing to see what these guys can do with a seven week intersession. I doubt if I’m the only person wondering what they could create with a bit more time on their hands.
The first of two US made films of the night came courtesy of director Jennifer Treuting. Brother’s Day is a short but touching documentary about three siblings who decide to create their own brotherly holiday. Let’s leave it to children to take an idea that sounds like another excuse to sell cards and gifts, and for them to strip it of it’s material value. The kids here are inspiring in their resolve to keep this family holiday going for six years. Living in the very material world we do right now, seeing values such as this in youth is the stuff that makes you warm and fuzzy inside.
The second US short is a creative burst of color and art from the mind of Dustin Grella. Comprising of several skits drawn from crowd sourced voice mails as inspiration. The animation here is beautiful and the idea itself is refreshing. While there’s no narrative, it was intriguing to see how one man’s pen interprets another person’s word. If you didn’t catch it last night then you can visit Dustin’s website here to see some of his other work.
Two Square Feet carries on the uplifting theme of the night. Directed by Ruth Lawrence, it focuses on a woman looking past her insecurities in a time of change, self doubt and uncertainty. Well shot with a great performance from Jeanne Beker, this film is a poignant example of recognizing self worth and living outside of our bubbles.
One More Song, the directorial debut of local musical talent, Ian Foster, was a part of my ten most anticipated films of the festival. I can easily say that it didn’t disappoint. This was one of the better looking films of the night and I only wish it was a little longer. Stylistically, think of a music video, without the music. Instead you have beautiful imagery, an intriguing concept and some voice over work to tell it’s story. Great job for Foster’s first film.
The final film of the night came from writer/director Mark Hoffe. The Needle and the Damage Undone is an eye opening documentary focusing on injection drug abuse and the harm reduction methods used in this province. The topic covered is something that should be talked about more often and the information here should be more readily available than it is. How many of you know what “harm reduction” actually means? This film gives you this information through touching interviews with those involved on both sides of the system. It encourages you to look into this and ask more questions yourself. Hopefully this documentary gets the opportunity to move around and reach the more rural areas across the province.
This was all topped off with an informative Q&A with Mark and those involved in the harm reduction field in the province. This was another excellent source of information and I hope others who see this film have the ability to take advantage of a similar Q&A.
So there you have it. An incredibly successful night for everyone involved and I send my congratulations to all who had films screened! I wish I could talk more specifically about what I loved but in an effort to keep this to a comfortable length I do need to limit myself.
Tonight we continue the fun with night #2. Can’t wait to see you there!