EDITOR’S NOTE: The Westerly News chatted with Kimberly Johnstone of the Tofino Film Festival about next week’s big event. The Westerly News is a sponsor of the Tofino Film Festival.
WN: What is great about the Tofino Film Festival? KJ: With this year being the exception (because of the two older movies we are showing), the great thing about the Festival is bringing new, independent, thought-provoking films to our West Coast communities. These are films that are rarely available at a rental store or even in theatres. They are films that are on the Film Festival circuit and they are wonderful films that sometimes never get picked up by distribution houses – so people don’t get a chance to see them unless they go to film festivals. Another great thing about the Festival is the post-film Q&A that occurs after the films. The TFF Society tries to bring in as many filmmakers, directors, and presenters as possible. This gives the audience a chance to have a dialogue with the people directly involved with making the film they just watched. If the film is provocative then it’s a great way to direct any questions to the people behind the film.
WN: How has the festival built over the years? KJ: The great thing about this Festival is that it has stayed small. While it is true that more people and businesses in the community are now aware of the Festival, we have not really grown it substantially from its original concept 16 years ago. In those days the Festival was run by
Joe James, a local film buff now living on the Sunshine Coast. He loves film festivals and had the vision for a Festival here in Tofino but had no funding for it. So he put all the screening fees, rental fees, liquor licensing fees, etc on his credit card and hoped to make it back come ticket selling time.
When we became a non-profit Society 6 years ago we were eligible for more funding so no one had to max out their credit cards! There has been one major change to the TFF since its conception 16 years ago and that is the creation of the Guerilla Film Competition. Haley Marshall, who used to live in Tofino, and I really wanted to start an amateur film competition here in Tofino to kick off the Festival. We wanted to get people out there on whatever cameras they had available to them, making films. We wanted to get people excited about the medium of film right before the TFF kicked off. We had no idea it would be so successful. The first year, when we walked into Shelter with all the films in hand, there was a lineup at the door! The Guerilla has stayed a consistently big event and is a major part of the TFF and a great way to start off the Festival week.
WN: What are you hoping for from this year’s festival? KJ: For this year’s Festival we hope that more people go out to make films for the Guerilla. We also hope people come out for the films on Thursday Feb. 13th @9pm & Saturday Feb. 15th @8:30 pm as those films will have directors in attendance and they are incredible films that showcase amazing athletes surfing and snowboarding as well as these films have big environmental and social/cultural messages. There will be an excellent presentation on the Saturday night by an organization called Pedalling for Papua before the film isolated screens.
Belen and Northern Grease (Thurs. 9 pm) came in right under the wire. We had a different feature film chosen for this time slot and then I got an email from a colleague who works at the David Suzuki Foundation. She forwarded me an email from a man named Tamo Campos and about his project, “Beyond Boarding.” I got the email two days before our lineup was due in the Tofino Time and we emailed back and forth and decided to go with the films. The trailers are absolutely stunning – snowboarding in Peru and in BC while at the same time containing a social and environmental message. The filmmakers are young, incredibly ambitious, and inspired people. We wanted to have them in the Festival to promote their project and their films. The surprising part of this selection is, of course, that we have not actually seen the films – only the trailers. Because they are still rushing to complete these films in time for the Festival we could not screen the films beforehand. But I like surprises, so I look forward to seeing these films for the first time on Thursday night along with everyone else! WN: Why is important for Tofino to have a film festival? KJ: It is important to have a film festival for a variety of reasons – I think it provides a venue to have thought-provoking conversations on subjects that might not always be on our radar in our day-to-day lives. We are pretty insular here in Tofino. We don’t think about genocide in Papua New Guinea or the plight of a female boxer in Kabul – these films bring deeper social, cultural, and environmental issues right to our small, idyllic community so that we can learn, discuss, and grow. In addition, it is important to keep the Arts scene viable in our community. The short films that screen at 7pm on Thursday Feb. 13th are exemplary of animation at
the edge. These animators are not sponsored by Disney – they are independent animators creating art that is so mind blowing you cannot believe that a person could spend 10 years drawing out a movie, but they do! You have to see it to believe it. Lastly, I think the Guerilla Film Competition is a fun way to get people involved in creative projects that they might not normally do, unless there was a competition. One of this year’s films has a large group of people from Tofino working together on a hilarious film. These people might not
usually spend time together, but they got together for the day and shot an unforgettable film! I cannot wait to see it at Shelter on Wednesday Feb. 12th – it’s going to bring the house down! No spoiler alert here – you just have to come to the event! Schedule Thursday, Feb. 13, 7 pm: An evening of incredible short films. NFB short films as well as selections from independent filmmakers. 1. Nightshift Belongs to The Stars (2013, 23 min.) directed by Edoardo Ponti 2. Rabbit and Deer (2013, 16 min.) directed by Peter Vasz
3. In Passing (2012, 5 min.) Thursday, February 13, 9pm: BelÃ©n (36 min) & Northern Grease (70 min) Friday, February 14, 7pm: Boxing Girls of Kabul (52 min)
Friday, February 14, 9pm: An Affair to Remember (119 min) Saturday, February 15, 3pm: Mary Poppins (139 min) Saturday, February 15,
7pm: Islands of Sanctuary (57 min) Saturday, February 15, 8:30pm: Special talk by on Pedaling for Papua (30 min) Saturday, February 15, 8:30pm: Isolated (100 min)