Archive for September, 2016

Festival 2016 Impressions by Nancy Fornasiero

Continuing our series of guest articles, here is how Nancy Fornasiero experienced the Oakville Film Festival.

My Oakville Film Festival Experience

Nancy Fornasiero

Nancy Fornasiero (far right) at the gala afterparty with family and friends. Photo courtesy of Nancy Fornasiero.

With all the recent buzz around TIFF, I’m reminded of our own little indie film fest that took place here in Oakville in June. Obviously it would be a stretch to compare OFFA to TIFF, which is a much bigger deal, but I thought our local festival was a first-rate event, especially considering that it’s just in its infancy. I saw seven films – actually a lot more if you count the shorts – and went to a couple of the special events. You could say I that got a pretty good taste for the festival!

Highlights: First of all, the gala (feature film and after-party) made for a perfect date night for my husband and me. We don’t do stuff like that together very often, especially not in Oakville! Our favourite part of the evening was the director’s Q&A session where we got to hear the whole story of the film’s journey, from kernel of an idea all the way up to finished product. Another highlight was having my TIFF-loving girlfriend visit from Toronto to watch a couple of flicks with me. Afterward we dissected the plots and dialogue and camera angles, and film-geeked it up over a few glasses of wine on a Kerr Street patio. Another fun moment was bringing my 18-year-old to the screening of James Franco’s Memoria—I found some scenes in the film tough to watch (angsty foul-mouthed teens getting into all sorts of trouble), but he thought it was gritty and authentic. Either way, it turned into a great conversation starter for us.

Granted, TIFF is a bigger and sexier affair, but OFFA has the advantage of being intimate and relaxed. I found the casual vibe refreshing. I had the opportunity to have one-on-one chats with the festival host, with screenwriters and directors, and even with the subject of one of the inspiring documentaries. That wouldn’t have happened at TIFF!

My only complaint is that for the second year in the row there have been technical difficulties getting the films started. It’s a bit irritating to watch the first three minutes of a movie over and over until it gets going properly. I’m sure the folks at OFFA will iron that glitch out, though, especially since they’re well on their way to becoming a respected stop on the international indie film circuit.

All in all, as Mr. Ebert and Mr. Siskel used to say, I’d give the Willson International Film Festival “two thumbs up.”

by Nancy Fornasiero
Nancy Fornasiero is an indie-film fan, and an Oakville-based writer, editor, and communications specialist.

Festival 2016 Impressions by Sam Wang

Continuing our series of guest articles, here is a festival report and review by teen festival-goer, Sam Wang.

The Festival Where You Can Meet and Mingle With Filmmakers

Sam Wang

Festival-goer, Sam Wang asks a question during a filmmaker Q & A.

The Oakville Film Festival’s second year was a charming local event, with the galas taking place at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts and the rest of the festival screenings taking place at Oakville’s independent theatre,  The crowd of guests comfortably filled up the theatres during the busy hours. At quieter times I did not have to wait in a queue or hear the buzzing of conversations talking over each other. As a young movie lover it was nice to be able to stretch my legs without bumping into anyone. Filmmakers and cast members could be found in the main hall if you wanted to strike up a conversation, and the festival’s board of directors often appeared between showings.

Small town charm does not, however, make for a high budget experience. The staff were all volunteers. They were friendly but often times not organized or available when and where needed. I saw technical issues in the theatres. It became an expectation to see the projector’s main menu at some point. The short films that played before every movie got the worst of the technical hiccups – usually affecting the audio. The only videos that never had a technical hiccup were the self-promotional videos that played before each movie. As the Oakville Film Festival matures I hope to see less time wasted by technical issues.

My favourite part of the festival was the great accessibility to filmmakers and I want to see even more priority given to this next year!

by Sam Wang, film festival fan

Festival 2016 Impressions by Isabel McDonald

Isabel McDonald

Isabel McDonald (centre) with “Painted Land” director, Phyllis Ellis (2nd from right) and friends.

Continuing our series of guest articles, here is how the festival looked to film fan, Isabel McDonald.

The Little Festival That Grew

WOW! This is the little festival that grew!  From a one day starter festival, the Oakville Film Festival has become an entertaining full weekend,  keeping me busy with an incredible line-up of films. It was a jam-packed 3 days and I found the films illuminating, emotional  and stimulating. Kudos to the team.  It was great to have a a broad range of films. The Gala was an incredible noir, “Manhattan Nocturne”, with my favourite actor, Adrien Brody, which left me on the edge of my seat to the end. Any questions I had about the film were answered completely by the director, Brian DeCubellis who conducted an incredible Q & A.

I then got to watch the Australian family film “Oddball”, which left me in love with dogs and penguins.  To my surprise, I also got to hold beautiful puppies before the screening! An added bonus.

And “Angry Indian Goddesses”, an incredible film about female love and friendship in India.

The beautiful Canadian documentary, “Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven” was truly a visual delight and the Q & A with the filmmakers and cast was one of the best I have ever participated in. The Oakville Museum also did an expose on the Group of Seven and their work in the Oakville area which was informative.

And finally, “The Sabbatical”, a Canadian film about the trials of becoming middle-aged with the feeling that you have not reached any of your goals.  Having gone through this time of my life,  I can certainly relate to this film.

I will definitely be back next year and will again purchase a VIP package, as it was definitely worth it. Looking forward to it!

By Isabel McDonald, film fan

Festival 2016 Impressions by Michelina Williamson

Rob Salem, Brian DeCubellis

Continuing our series of guest articles, here is how the festival looked for Michelina Williamson who takes a suitably creative approach by telling her story as a short film script:

4 out of 5 Stars: My experience at the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival

I love independent film and have attended many film festivals over the years. When a friend told me about the Willson Oakville Film Festival I had to check it out. This is what I discovered.

Like most customer experiences today, mine began online.

The festival website was informative and easy to navigate. I had no trouble finding the list of films, trailers and descriptions. There were many interesting articles to help me choose a film and candid interviews with participating filmmakers. This festival had it all, a convenient location, great ticket prices, and Q&A’s with the directors, writers and actors. I decided on two films and purchased my tickets. Now for the best part. Let me set-up the scenes for you:

It’s opening night for the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts. The feature film is “Manhattan Nocturne” staring Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, and Jennifer Beals. Director, Brian DeCubellis, is in attendance and will participate in a Q&A after the screening.


Long-time friends Michelina and Gill glide along the plush red carpet toward the theatre entrance. They pose for a picture and get lost in the fantasy of red carpet galas, fans and photo flashes.

The lobby is filled with film enthusiasts laughing and talking. Michelina and Gill scan the room. They stop. Turn to each other.

Michelina and Gill
Ooh a bar.

Shall we have a glass of wine before the film?

Yes, lets.

How chic, how elegant, how…

Yeah, this place rocks!

There’s an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation in the full theatre. The Festival Director opens the gala. The film is screened. The audience applauds loudly. There is a lively Q&A with the Film Director.


The End

The experience was entertaining, insightful and thought provoking. I know what you’re thinking. If it was so good why did you only give it 4 stars? Let me explain.

As I mentioned earlier, I saw two films at the festival. While I had a great time at the opening gala, the 2nd film experience did not live up to my expectations. Frankly, I was disappointed by the quality of the film. The acting was not convincing and the dialogue unnatural to the point of distraction. Although I could see the film’s potential, I personally would not have chosen it to screen at the festival.

Would I attend the festival next year?


Written by Michelina Williamson @mwcreativecomm
Michelina Williamson is a Communications Professional

Festival 2016 Impressions by Richard Landau

Gala Theatre

In the aftermath of the 2016 festival, the organizers have been taking stock of what worked, what could be improved next time, and what new ideas we might try. In addition to our usual post-festival articles, we thought we’d invite audience members and volunteers to be guest writers. We asked several people of differing backgrounds and experiences to share their honest observations about the 2016 Festival. We’re grateful to everyone who submitted articles and we’re very pleased to present this 1st piece from Richard Landau:

Festival 2016 Impressions No. 1

It is both the scale and the scope of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival that I appreciated.

On the matter of scale, this is a film festival that over three days affords one with an opportunity to see as many films as one can realistically absorb and integrate. As for its scope, the festival’s selection committee has curated a limited, yet rich range of offerings that reflect the themes and styles popular in current film making from Canada and abroad. I note this included a balanced choice of genres and films that are alternately driven by either subject matter, acting, or by their directing and cinematography. I also enjoy the fact that the intimate scale of the festival allows participants to engage in meaningful conversations with the attending filmmakers and talent. In my case, I had the opportunity to ask a filmmaker about her film’s budget and how successful she had been with crowdfunding. I found that valuable and instructive. I’m looking forward to next year.

written by Richard M. Landau
TV Producer, Documentary Maker, Screenwriter, OFFA Volunteer