Mississauga Independent Film Fest is Coming

 

If you've never heard of MIFF -- the Mississauga Independent Film Festival -- you're not alone. The five-year old festival that's set to run from July 25-29 certainly doesn't rival its glitzier counterpart, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), in the glamour department, but it does offer up-and-coming Canadian filmmakers a more accessible venue to screen the products of their "blood, sweat and tears" (the festival's central theme).

The festival features films -- some feature-length, some short, some animated, some documentary-style -- created by little-known filmmakers who showcase a unique and exciting product that's also potentially marketable to a wider audience -- meaning you won't see Christopher Nolan blockbusters, but you won't see long, artistic montages of sleepy-eyed actors crying in front of mirrors for 20 minutes either.  The goal of the festival, founded by Mississauga-born filmmaker Matt Campagna in 2008, is to give talented "little guys" the ability to shine big in front of audiences and distribution companies like E1 and OUAT Media.

"We steer away from well-known filmmakers because, once you're a recognized voice [in film], you don't need this festival," explains Campagna. "TIFF should notice you."

"The fringe benefit [of the festival] is Canadians can see independent film. The people we're showcasing could make 100 movies for the price of, say, The Dark Knight Rises. And some of those movies would be better," he says.

The films that do make the cut are chosen through a rigorous selection process, and Campagna says the selection committee judges submissions by fairly specific criteria.

"This year, we saw six breath-taking movies," says Campagna. "We [the committee] have an eye for things like commercial value, quality and the film's ability capture an audience. We need to see something with industry potential."

As for what movies festival goers can expect to see, the selection is varied. It could be argued that the opening film (which screens at AMC Winston Churchill on Thursday, July 26), David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method (starring Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley), is a semi-blockbuster, but Campagna felt it was fitting to commence with a Canadian-helmed endeavor. Other films on the docket include:

  • Cold Blooded - Directed by Jason Lapeyre
  • Lady of Names - Directed by Adam Ciolfi
  • Waiting for Summer - Directed by Senthil Vinu
  • Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy - Directed by Rob Heydon
  • Footsteps - Noam Kroll

For a complete list of shorts, features, docs and animated features, click here. All the films and workshops are being held at AMC Winston Churchill (which is slowly transforming into a Cineplex, but don't let that confuse you). The opening V.I.P. Industry Gala, which is scheduled for July 25, will take place at the Art Gallery of Mississauga.

But although it seems MIFF exists primarily to provide new filmmakers with an avenue to reach out to distributors, it offers viewers the traditional festival experience in the form of opening galas, Q&As with directors and performers, industry-run workshops that appeal to directors and amateur film aficionados alike (there's a workshop dedicated to making film for the web), and award ceremonies.  

On the celebrity side, some famous faces set to grace our fair city belong to Kristin Kreuk (Smallville), Carlo Rota (Little House on the Prairie), Ryan Robbins (Sanctuary) and Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl). The V.I.P. Gala is set to be as regal as the name suggests, allowing filmmakers the chance to "schmooze" with industry professionals.

"It's the glitz and glam and what a filmmaker's blood, sweat and tears deserve," says Campagna.

Average viewers can also enjoy the glam by purchasing tickets to any and all of the screenings and events (a full Gold Access Pass that includes the gala costs $90). And speaking of average viewers, Campagna says that, with each passing year, more and more of the public fills the theatres.

"There's a great turn out for the features," he says. "This year, we're almost sold out."

And for the first time this year, the concluding award ceremony will feature a Viewer's Choice category. Audiences will be able to vote for their favourite films on their smart phones -- a paperless initiative that keeps with the festival's dedication to leaving as tiny a carbon footprint as possible.

But overall, Campagna insists that the festival is simply for filmmakers and the film industry.

"I just love being impressed with filmmakers."

For more information, visit www.miff.ca

To purchase tickets, click here: http://miff.ca/?page_id=57

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