Atlantic Film Festival unveils Atlantic Focus early

Because it turns out local audiences care a lot about local films.

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Among the Halifax filmmakers with shorts in the Atlantic Film Festival are Jasmine Oore (There's Been a Terrible Mistake) and Martha Stiegman (Seeking Netukulimk).
  • Among the Halifax filmmakers with shorts in the Atlantic Film Festival are Jasmine Oore (There's Been a Terrible Mistake) and Martha Stiegman (Seeking Netukulimk).

It's been a big day for Canadian movie news, with first the Atlantic Film Festival then the Toronto International FF unveiling parts of their lineups. As is its wont, TIFF waved around a big old deck of major movies—Life of Crime with Jennifer Aniston, 12 Years a Slave with Brad Pitt, Jason Bateman’s Bad Words—making us wonder if "International" mostly refers to "Hollywood." The AFF lived up to its name by introducing the Atlantic part of its program to an audience of filmmakers and media in a theatre at Park Lane: 82 films, from features to a whole night of animated shorts (that's on Tuesday, September 17 if you're looking for tickets, which went on sale today at the festival site).

In a bit of upstagery aided by the Halifax-Toronto time zone difference, AFF got to announce that Don McKellar's feature The Grand Seduction will be the opening gala (Thursday, September 12) before TIFF made its own Seduction announcement…apparently something about a “world premiere.” The Atlantic lead there is fitting given the film is about a group of Newfoundlanders trying to seduce a doctor to move to their town, and the seed for the film was planted when two producers got talking at the AFF a couple years ago.

Another Atlantic feature of note is Jay Dahl’s There Are Monsters, which fest staffers say is the scariest scary movie to ever come out of Nova Scotia. Naturally it screen on Friday the 13th.

But the core of the local focus is the shorts. Ten different programs of shorts. These screenings tend to sell it fast, because there are a bunch of films on the lineup and each has cast, crew, friends and family who want tickets. It's the popularity of the local productions that led to today's Atlantic-only early announcement.

“In the past we’ve announced our Atlantic program at the same time we’ve announced everything else,” says festival executive director Wayne Carter. “And then what's happened is ticket sales have kind of really gone through the roof on the Atlantic films, and then we’re struggling schedule-wise to schedule additional screenings.” With the international and Canadian movies not yet clogging up the schedule, it’ll be easy for the festival to add more screenings for the Atlantic films that selling the best.

The festival’s official notice with the whole slate of local films is here.

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