Archive for June, 2016

Meet Filmmakers Arriving in Oakville

Brian Stockton crewAn exciting and immersive cinematic experience is what you can expect at the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival. What makes this film festival so special is the opportunity for you to meet the directors, writers, and actors who are travelling to Oakville from across Canada and the United States to be a part of this great event.

After each film, join us for intimate talks with the film’s creators in an open and casual atmosphere with like-minded people who are curious about film and the creative process.

Confirmed attendees include:

  • MANHATTAN NOCTURNE director, Brian DeCubellis from New York City.
  • LEGACY OF WHINING writer/director/actor, Ross Munro and producer Maria Munro from Vancouver.
  • MEMORIA writer/co-director, Nina Ljeti from Los Angeles.
  • THE SABBATICAL writer/director, Brian Stockton from Regina.
  • SCRATCH writer/director Maninder Chana from Toronto.
  • CHASING VALENTINE director, Navin Ramaswaran from Toronto and lead actor Adam Langdon of Oakville.

Discover who else you can meet and get tickets at the Film Schedule.
Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet these unique and talented directors, writers, and actors at the 2016 Willison Oakville Film Festival.

Written by Michelina Williamson @mwcreativecomm
Michelina Williamson is a Communications Specialist and contributing writer to OFFA.

Meet the Makers: “Lure” director, Jesse Harley

“Meet the Makers” is a series of interviews to introduce the filmmakers of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival. Answers are edited for clarity and space.

Jesse Harley

Jesse Harley is an award-winning director from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. His works include the short films, “Like Father”, “Ticonderoga”, and “Wing Man”. With the psychological thriller, “Lure”, Harley is moving from shorts to feature films.

ABOUT THE FILM: “Lure” is about post-graduate student Rebecca Markowitz who is dispatched to a prison to interview internet predator, Eric Daltry. As she delves into the man’s twisted psyche, Rebecca’s personal life starts to crumble and she finds herself getting in deeper than she ever intended. “Lure” is based on the play, “CU2morrow” inspired by the case of convicted ‘suicide nurse’ Melchert-Dinkle, a male nurse who posed as a woman in online suicide chat rooms where he encouraged vulnerable women to take their own lives.

Q: How did you get involved with “Lure”?

Jesse: I saw and liked the play, “CU2Morrow” by The Doppler Effect. When my producer, Chris Turner saw the play, he optioned it and turned it into a screenplay. Chris and I have worked together for 6 years, so when he asked me to direct, I read the script and liked it and I liked the people who were involved. It was a no-brainer.

Q: You mentioned that “Lure” was adapted from the play, “CU2morrow”. What was your own take on the story?

Jesse: It was an organic process. A number of people had input into the script. Glen Matthews, who plays Eric Daltry, had input into his character’s motivations and there were discussions to make the story more cinematic than the play. As a director, my job is to get everyone excited so they don’t want to ‘fix’ the film; they want to enhance it. That’s when magic happens. Film is a collaboration – from writing to production. I like it when everyone – the cast and crew can speak up because they might have a great idea that will make the film better. It’s my job to spot that. I call it symphonic filmmaking. Film is a top artform. Like a symphony of instruments, many pieces must fit together in the right way to make it work. If one thing – one note – is out of place, it ruins the whole thing. As the director I have to make sure everything works together. That’s my version of “the director’s vision”. It’s not a single vision – it’s the vision of seeing how everything works together.

Q: What are the themes in “Lure”?

Jesse: On the outside “Lure” seems to be about suicide but if you look deeper it’s really about control – control over our own lives and over each others’ lives. It’s also about trust. When we find ourselves trusting people, our trust gives them power over us. Rebecca (Andrea Norwood) and Eric (Glen Matthews) form an unexpected trust. At first it seems that Eric is manipulating Rebecca in the same way he’s manipulated other people for kicks. But by the end, he’s emotionally conflicted. At the same time, Rebecca finds herself trusting this man who she first sees as a black & white criminal. Everyone is on a journey that suddenly surprises them with an emotional whiplash. From an acting and directing standpoint this is a tough thing to pull off. The actors had to do this emotional turn-around. Everyone did a splendid job.

Q: Rebecca is a complex character. Help us understand her.

Jesse: She’s young – early to mid-20’s – at an age when she’s still grasping with who she is in the world. When she’s thrown in with Eric Daltry, a man who’s older than her, more experienced, and has a background of manipulating people – how does she deal with him? She’s forced to deal with moral questions like, ‘Should people be encouraged to kill themselves to end their own suffering?’ Is she equipped to answer this? Is anyone? She has her own demons but these are left unanswered in the movie. We learn that she had her own suicide attempt but we don’t know why. What’s important is that this affects her view of Eric. This brings us back to the question of control. How much control does she have over her own life and how much does she let Eric control her? Rebecca is not as fragile as she first appears to be. As we get to know her we see another side to her.

Q: Eric is a complicated villain. What can you tell us about him?

Jesse: Yes. His character is so juicy and deviant. He lives in a morally grey area that torments him. He believes that he’s helping people but he struggles with the morality of how he helps. By day he helps people live and by night he helps them die. ‘Help’ is the key word.

Q: Who was “Lure” made for?

Jesse: I don’t really make a movie with a particular audience in mind. I believe that your audience finds you. I try to focus on making the movie.

Q: When audiences see “Lure” what do you want them to take away from it?

Jesse: After seeing “Lure” – if they can discuss it or have a debate on this topic of morals, the motivation behind suicide and how it affects people – I think that’s what I want. We don’t talk about it enough. I wanted to show this topic – not in a horrific way – not by being graphic or hard to watch – but in a way that benefits people by starting a discussion.

Q: Any final thoughts about “Lure”?

Jesse: I think “Lure” deals with important subject matter – mental health. We shouldn’t shy away from it. Mental illness is so often swept under the rug and treated with shame. Anything I can create to bring this to the forefront is worthwhile for me.

Interview by Cathleen MacDonald
Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

Meet the Makers: “Chasing Valentine” director, Navin Ramaswaran

“Meet the Makers” is a series of interviews to introduce the filmmakers of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival. Answers are edited for clarity and space.

Navin RamaswaranABOUT THE FILMMAKER: NAVIN RAMASWARAN, writer/director
Navin is a Canadian director and editor who is known for ‘Chasing Valentine’ (2015), ‘Late Night Double Feature’ (2015), and ‘One More for the Road’ (2013).

ABOUT THE FILM: Unable to get over the tragic loss of the love of his life and stuck with a day job editing adult videos, Chase meets an unlikely ally, Valentine – who works under the various personas she has created for herself. Is Chase ready to uncover Valentine’s dark secrets?

Q: Why did you want to tell this story?

Navin: I started with the idea to compile stories of different relationships; not the conventional relationships you often see in movies but ones that are different – unusual. As I developed the script I saw that it was becoming complicated and unfocussed and that maybe it wasn’t the most cinematic way to tell a story. When doing table reads (actors read the script out loud) people liked the Valentine and Chase story. What was originally going to be like, “Love Actually” with lots of characters, became more focussed on Valentine and Chase. Theirs was an unconventional relationship but it was also the most interesting. I’d been working on this for awhile and I needed another writer to look at it. I brought in Neil Avram Schneider to help shape and focus the story.

Q: Who did you make “Chasing Valentine” for?

Navin: I made the film for audiences who want something different. There’s so much content out there that falls into the same clichés. I want this movie to be the little hidden gem you’ll find at a festival; something that jump starts your passion for indie film.

Q: The male lead, Chase (Adam Langton) is unable to get over his loss. Help us understand his character.

Navin: Chase is guilt-ridden because he didn’t go after Scarlet (his fiancé) that night they fought and she walked out. He was confident – because she’d broken up and come back to him before – that this time would be the same. But it isn’t. This time Scarlet doesn’t get the chance to come back and now Chase carries that regret. He can’t get out of this unhealthy feedback loop – ‘What if he’d gone after her?’ ‘What if he’d stopped her from leaving?’ It’s the quick decision that changes everything. To some degree everyone can relate to that.

Q: Valentine is a character we often see in films but with a twist. She’s different. Tell us about her.

Navin: Valentine is a broken soul. She’s very capable and smart and her instinct is to survive. Her goal is to travel the world but she can’t seem to get away. She was in foster care and got into trouble. Then she met her ‘manager’, Alex, who got her into the industry. I wanted Valentine to be more than just another “Pretty Woman” character. She’s discovered this niche market of performing to fetishes – mostly involving food and while wearing different costumes – even a gas mask – without having to give herself to her customers. She’s actually loosely based on someone I know who did this fantasy chef thing.

Q: What are the themes in “Chasing Valentine”?

Navin: Definitely loss and regret – picking up and moving on. Chase has to move on from the loss of his fiancé and Valentine has to move on from what she does for a living. She wants to stop but it’s hard to get out. There’s always ‘one last job’. Chase and Valentine help each other. You’ll notice the chalkboard in Chase’s apartment and how the drawings are metaphorical. It starts out that the drawings have been on there for a long time – things that Chase can’t let go of. When Valentine comes into Chase’s life, the drawings start to change – like a clean slate. The fact is that Chase and Valentine love each other when they need each other. The tagline, “Happy endings are overrated,” came as a response to the traditional happily ever after ending. This movie has a happy ending but in a different way – with 2 broken people who help each other.

Q: There’s another relationship in this film. Chase and Brad have a ‘buddy movie’ friendship. Tell us about that.

Navin: Yeah, we all have that friend who we lean on and who we can end up taking for granted. The backstory with Brad (Brad Cowan) and Chase is that they’ve lived together as roommates and have seen each other through lots of things. Brad is a funny guy – in the movie and in real life. His character lightens things up and balances the serious tones of the film. Brad is a comedian – he had a show, ‘Truth Horse’ on Comedy Central. While filming “Chasing Valentine” Brad would take the scripted dialogue and Improv his lines. It was a lot of fun but I had to be a step ahead to think of how the Improv was moving the story forward and how it would edit together. A funny thing – the Oakville Film Festival will be Brad’s first time seeing “Chasing Valentine”. He missed the other screening. He’s looking forward to seeing it with an audience.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from “Chasing Valentine”?

Navin: Be entertained and talk about it. It’s not about whether you like or don’t like the movie. A movie lives when people talk about it and say, “Here’s what I liked and here’s what I didn’t like.”

Q: Do you have any final comments you want to share?

Navin: This is going to sound cliché but it’s true. This movie was made by people who were passionate about it. We had very little money and a small bunch of people but we pulled it all together. I couldn’t have done this without these people. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.

Interview by Cathleen MacDonald
Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

Tickets to the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival are in High Demand

Scratch Sold OutThe symphony of ring tones, vibrations and pings is constant as the Willson Oakville Film Festival organizers receive requests for tickets to the sold out World Premier of Maninder Chana’s film, “Scratch”.

“We’re thrilled to see this type of enthusiasm for independent film and our local film festival and while there are no more tickets available for “Scratch” there are plenty of other great films to see. However, some are close to selling out, so it’s best to buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.” explains festival organizer, Cathleen MacDonald.

An Impressive Selection of Films

Indeed, the selection of independent feature films from Canada and around the world is impressive and offers a wealth of diverse storytelling that reflects the unique and creative style of each filmmaker. The feature films are accompanied by one or more short films, many produced by recent Sheridan College Alumni, giving you the opportunity to see the next generation of filmmakers.

The Willson Oakville Festival enriches your cinematic experience by creating an intimate and accessible dialogue with filmmakers who are in attendance to answer questions from you, the audience. After the movie you’ll have the opportunity to ask all those burning questions about the actors or the filming process or how the director’s vision fits into the current cinematic landscape or… well you get the picture.

Join Fellow Film Enthusiasts

You can easily purchase your tickets online from the festival schedule. That’s also where you’ll find movie trailers, exclusive interviews, articles and much more. Join your fellow film enthusiasts, meet the filmmakers and discover all that an independent film festival has to offer.

Which film experience will you choose?

Written by Michelina Williamson   @mwcreativecomm
Michelina Williamson is a Communications Specialist and contributing writer to OFFA.


Films to See: “Memoria”

Memoria“Memoria” is an authentic, emotionally charged portrayal of youth struggling and faltering on the journey to manhood. Ivan (Sam Dillon) clings to faint memories of the father who long ago abandoned him and his mother. He is on that precipice of youth where confusion and desires mix with contempt for teachers, unwanted virginity, and the banalities of hanging out with slacker friends. His gentle nature has been moulded by his dysfunctional home life to cause him to hold his anger inside. So when a caring teacher (James Franco) offers help, Ivan responds in the only way he knows – by pushing away. When he finally lashes out, he’s incapable of hurting anyone but himself.

Why You Might Like “Memoria”

“Memoria” will show you something of yourself or of people you knew while growing up. If you’re well past your teen years, you’ll reflect on that time of life with renewed appreciation for its struggles. For cinephiles, “Memoria” offers a style of realism and artistry reminiscent of the New Hollywood movement of the ‘70’s when young, creative filmmakers overcame low budgets to make raw, passionate films. This is a film you will not soon forget. You can see the trailer and buy tickets for “Memoria” here.

Written by Cathleen MacDonald.  Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

Join the Rush Squad

Are you 16 – 25 years old? Do you want to see movies? FREE! We want you to join the Willson Oakville Film Festival Rush Squad.

Rush Squad small

Your job

Watch movies and have fun. Really! That’s it!

What you get

  • a Rush Pass to all 18 festival films screening June 24-26 at cinemas and Oakville Centre for Performing Arts

How it works

Bring your pass and arrive for festival films. 5 minutes before showtime we’ll open the empty seats to you.

How to get on the Rush Squad

Email with the Subject Line: Movie Rush Squad and tell us:

  • your name
  • your age
  • your favourite movie
  • a sentence about why you want to be on the Rush Squad

If we select you, we’ll email you your Rush Squad Pass and ask for your cel number so we can text you with the latest movie info.

Hurry! There are a limited number of Rush Squad Passes available. Email us now and tell your friends to get their passes.
Entry to films is available on a first-come basis subject to the availability of empty seats.

Films to See: “Runners”

RunnersIn a hard scrabble inner city neighbourhood, Shannon is the tough, independent high school senior whose sights are set on escaping the poverty and drive-by shootings while her friend, T (Theadore), is surrendering to the call of easy money as a drug runner – a job that got his older brother killed. Their precarious lives teeter on the brink until Coach Archie Miles, a former gang banger and now high school track and field coach, offers the way to a scholarship and an education.  In the struggle with the local drug gang, destinies are made and lost in a tense battle of love, tragedy, and determination.

Why You Might Like “Runners”

“Runners” gives us an insider’s perspective into a world where young lives teeter between the dead end of a broken community and the fragile hope of a better life through education and self-determination. It’s an authentic portrayal that you won’t find in a Hollywood movie. If you love the classic struggle of good versus evil portrayed realistically, you’ll root for these characters who risk everything to make their own destinies. This has all the feels. You can view the trailer and buy tickets here.

Written by Cathleen MacDonald
Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

Meet the Makers: “The People Garden” Writer, Director, Nadia Litz

Nadia Litz

Nadia Litz (left) directs Pamela Anderson in “The People Garden”.

Nadia Litz is an award-winning actress turned filmmaker. She debuted at Cannes in Jeremy Podeswa’s Genie award-winning film ‘The Five Senses’, then she played Sam Shepard’s daughter in 2002’s ‘After the Harvest’ for which she was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Actress. As a filmmaker she directed the short film, ‘How To Rid Your Lover Of A Negative Emotion Caused By You!’ and she wrote and directed the features, ‘Hotel Congress’, and ‘The People Garden’.

When Sweetpea (Dree Hemingway) travels to Japan to break up with her rock-star boyfriend, she discovers he has gone missing in a mysterious forest.

Q: What are the emotions and themes in “The People Garden”?

Nadia: I think the film is romantic and melancholy and foreboding. I think mystery is one of the themes in the film as well as a tone. Also reinvention is a theme. How can we move past things. Can we? And do we? All of the characters in the film are at a certain step of acceptance about their reality. Blindness is a theme.. what we choose to see. What we leave out….

Q: The protagonist, Sweetpea (Dree Hemingway) arrives with a purpose that takes her on an unexpected journey. How did her character emerge and evolve on the page and on the screen?

Nadia: I felt like there was a kind of woman that I wasn’t seeing represented on screen. I wanted a young female character whose motivations weren’t entirely clear. You really have to stick with her to the very end in order to learn about her.

Q: Mak (Jai West), as the youngest forest-man, begins as an enigma who is revealed through his encounter with Sweetpea. Help us understand his character.

Nadia: Mak acts as a bit of a bridge between the Management Men (forest rangers) and the US film crew. He doesn’t belong where he is. Sweetpea doesn’t belong where she is in her life. There are a lot of clues in the film as to why Mak is in the forest. Some people have had to watch the film more than once to see them. But they are there!

Q: We must also ask about Signe (Pamela Anderson). Her avoidance of and eventual confrontation with Sweetpea propels Sweetpea to a new level. Help us understand Signe’s character.

Nadia: Yes Signe helps Sweetpea learn for sure… that is very true. Signe represents a dead end. Someone who was suppose to be a scapegoat or an antagonist. But her involvement to the real mystery is but a piece. It is ultimately irrelevant information. I also see Signe as someone Sweetpea could end up becoming. Signe is an option for how Sweetpea could live her life. But Sweetpea might want something else for her life…. Or maybe not! You have to see the film!

Q: “The People Garden” has been described as ambiguous by some observers but it could also be described as stylish, intricate, and subtle. As the filmmaker, how do you describe it?

Nadia: I think it is all of those things. Hopefully our ambiguity is earned. I think it is. Meaning that rewatching the film brings new clues to light. We don’t solve every mystery overtly but I promise you there are answers in the film. It is not obtuse. We developed it for 5 years and I tried to delicately balance what was mysterious vs what answers are given. Film should engage with an audience. It should not tell you what you are seeing, it should build enough elements: plot, visual language, music, setting, actors to engage you to participate with it. The audience is the final author of a film.

Q: How do you think your acting experience informs your work as a writer and director?

Nadia: From acting I learned about being on set. The rhythm. The adjustments one has to make. I learned about pacing oneself and energy conservation. Also because of acting I have deep empathy for what actors go through. I’m protective of them because they are the most vulnerable. Lighting and aesthetics are very important to me as a director. It is a visual medium but at the end of the day actors are number one!

Q: What final words do you want to share about “The People Garden”?

Nadia: Let it cast its spell on you.

Interview by Cathleen MacDonald
Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.