Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cinema lovers unite - NIFF is back in town next weekend!

It's hard to believe a year has gone by since the inaugural Niagara Integrated Film Festival took place,  but here we are a year later and already the excitement is starting to build for Round 2.

I must admit I was a little blasé about it myself last year, not being a great movie-goer myself anyways, so I remember reading about it at the time but nothing seemed to grab me last year.  Maybe I was in the minority, since everyone else got rather excited about the whole thing and it appears to have taken off in Niagara.

So here we are a few days away from the launch of the second season, and I must admit, I am excited this year by some of the offerings.  Going on the NIFF website, you can access a full list of films to be screened, and in some cases even view trailers for some of them.

I watched the trailer for one that caught my eye and it worked - I want to see that film!  It's called Posthumous, starring Jack Huston, Brit Marling, Lambert Wilson, Tom Schilling and Alexander Fehling, and it receives its Canadian premiere at NIFF.  The story deals with an artist who discovers his art is probably worth more when he's dead rather than alive.  There are two screenings of the film, as part of the clever Filmalicious series where dinner is served prior to the screening at Southbrook Vineyards on Saturday evening, and the film alone at the Landmark Cinemas at Pen Centre on Sunday morning at 10.

It's important to note the Filmalicious series, as well as the Gala screenings take place at various wineries around the Region and although you can book both dinner and screening together, you can also opt just for the screening.  Dinners start at 7 pm and the screenings follow at 9:30 pm.  Other wineries hosting screenings include Peller Estates, Henry of Pelham, Redstone and Jackson-Triggs.

This is one of the great hooks for NIFF - where else can you go for an evening of great food and a great film in such a magnificent setting than right here in Niagara wine country.  As the film festival grows over the years, it is hoped this really becomes one of the key selling points for people outside and inside the area to come out and take part.

The opening night Gala is Thursday evening at Peller Estates winery and features the Canadian premiere of Testament of Youth, featuring Emily Watson, Hayley Attwell, Taron Egerton, Kit Harington, Alicia Vikander and Dominic West.  The dinner and screening will be followed by an after party and I am told director James Kent will be attending the event that evening.

There's several local connections to some of the films being screened as well.

The British Invasion pop musical movie called The Cocksure Lads Movie screens Thursday evening at 9:30 at Landmark Cinemas at Pen Centre, and then there's an after party at the Oast Brewery and the band will actually be on hand Thursday evening to play live.  The producer of the film lives here in Niagara, in fact.

Another film with a local connection is The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship, about a wine writer coming to Niagara to review the wines here.  Again, the filmmakers are from Niagara.  It receives its World Premiere Friday evening at 6:30 at the Landmark Cinemas.

Then there's one of several short films being screened as part of the Niagara Rises Shorts programme, June 20th at 12 noon at Landmark.  Entitled Henny's Opus in B Minor and starring Henny Nixon, it tells the story of an aging woman struggling with dementia who reconnects with the music of J.S. Bach.  The film is only 5 minutes long and is directed by Andrea Conte, another Niagara resident.

Perhaps one of the most interesting films to be screened is a documentary called Festival Express, directed by Bob Smeaton and Frank Cvitanovich.  It retells the story of the brief but historic train ride between Toronto, Calgary and Winnipeg in 1970, when Janis Joplin, The Band and The Grateful Dead rode the rails on the customized train and played at several stops along the way.  The only Canadian band on the tour was Mashmakhan, and one of the musicians from the band lives in the area and will be attending the screening on Friday afternoon at 4 at the Landmark Cinemas.

So that should whet your appetite for what's to come next weekend.  There is no way you can catch them all, but you could have a lot of fun trying to see as many as you can between Thursday and Sunday!  And just think, all this fun is happening right here in Niagara.

For detailed film descriptions and to order tickets, visit or call 1-800-656-0713.  Some of the films are already sold out, so it is suggested you get your tickets sooner rather than later.  And as a special bonus for my blog readers, NIFF is offering a 25% discount on your ticket purchase by using the promo code COMMUNITY.  How cool is that?

Now I'm excited!

June 13, 2015.

No comments: