Meet the Makers

Meet the Makers: The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger

Katherine Schlemmer

Katherine Schlemmer, writer/director, “The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger”

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


KATHERINE (KATE) SCHLEMMER, Writer/Director: Katherine Schlemmer is a writer and director, known for The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger (2016) and Sheltered Life (2008).

Is life a series of random events or is it determined by fate – and can the two intersect? When a mild-mannered IT specialist discovers that a man with the same name as his, is missing and is presumed dead, he goes looking for him only to find the missing man’s identical twin brother.

THE DEATH (AND LIFE) OF CARL NAARDLINGER screens at the Willson Oakville Film Festival, Saturday, June 24th, 9:00PM

THE INTERVIEWER: Cathleen MacDonald
I recently spoke with Kate before her film, The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger will have its Eastern Canadian premiere at the Willson Oakville Film Festival.

CATHLEEN: This film is a comedy, with elements of a mystery based on apparent coincidences, but something bigger could be at work. Help us understand what to expect from this film.

KATE: It’s a comedy that, I would say, is absurdist and a little metaphysical. It asks some of those unanswerable questions we all have – ‘Are we alone in the universe?’ ‘Is there a benevolent force that watches over us that steers us in the right direction?’ I don’t use the word God in the film because I think that word means different things to different people, so I stayed away from that. But there is something of the eternal in the theme – something that’s more than what we can see and touch.

CATHLEEN: The acting is superb. How did you cast this film and work with the actors, and what did the actors bring to their roles?

KATE: I was lucky. I met both leads – Matt (MATT BARAM, who plays Carl Naardlinger) and Grace (GRACE LYNN KUNG, who plays Pam Naardlinger) at 2 different parties and spoke with each of them and within 10 minutes, I knew they were perfect for the roles. They both had a lot of experience; particularly in television. They read the script and found it to be so different from other material they’d read. When they came to set, they came with their characters practically intact. I didn’t have to do much to steer them in the right direction. There’s always a danger with comedy that you can get performances that are ‘too big’ – that can seem too cartoony. But Matt and Grace had an emotionally grounded approach. And because I was casting a married couple, I wanted 2 performers who were opposites in terms of emotional impulses. Matt is very expressive and Grace is more contained and thoughtful. I thought that balance between them would be the perfect contrast for the comedy. I was very lucky. I held auditions to cast the other roles but Matt and Grace – I just knew.

CATHLEEN: You mentioned the story’s uniqueness. What did you draw upon, as a writer, to create this story?

KATE: I’m the kind of person that – something happens to me in my life and it becomes a seed for a story. In this case, my father had passed away and I experienced an incredible number of coincidences. It was baffling but also intriguing, and I wanted to write a character who was going through what I was experiencing – but I wanted to make it a comedy. So, from my own father’s passing, I could write this film.

CATHLEEN: We so often hear how difficult it is to make a film and seldom hear about the positive. What were some of the things, in addition to your good fortune with casting, that came together to make this film possible?

KATE: We were very lucky that Telefilm came on board for funding and I think it was because of the script – again, because it was so unique for a comedy. We were committed to trying to do the film without Telefilm’s support, if necessary, by scraping together what we could. People are making films for next to no money now. It’s incredible. Since cameras have come down in price so much, filmmaking is a more democratic process. When we pitched the film to Telefilm, we already had our 3 lead actors: Matt, Grace, and Mark, (MARK FORWARD, who plays Carl Naardlinger2 and Don Beamerschmiddle). I think that having the actors in place was a huge help, in terms of being able to read and appreciate the script, because those actors are recognizable. You can picture those specific actors in those roles. So, in terms of making films, an important thing to get right is – after getting the script right, is to cast it, so that people understand who these characters are that they’re financing.

CATHLEEN: Let’s talk about what the audience can expect. What can they take away from Carl Naardlinger?

KATE: From what I’ve heard from other audiences who’ve watched the film, they say that the movie is strangely touching. They have an emotional reaction, in addition to enjoying the humor and the visual artistry, they feel emotionally connected to it in some way. They can’t say exactly why. Some people have been moved to tears but they can’t say why. The performances are so heartfelt that I think people come away feeling that they’ve had an enlightened and wonderful time, and that’s a rare thing in films.

CATHLEEN: Can you share any stories about making this film?

KATE: The post production process was such a wonderful thing because that’s where a film really comes alive. For me, it’s a magical part of making films. You see it before your footage has been edited and colour corrected and the sound work has been done, then it goes through those processes and it comes out the other side completely transformed. Carl (CARL LAUDAN, Producer/Editor of The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger and I are partners in the film and in life, so we could work though the editing process at home. Seeing it all come together was a very personal experience.

CATHLEEN: Is there anything more you’d like the audience to know?

KATE: This film is a kind of fairy tale for adults. It’s absurdist comedy but it’s also grounded in real emotions. As well as being about this character, Carl, who experiences strange coincidences, it’s the story of a marriage and how this fantastical event polarizes Pam and Carl. So, although strange things happen, it never feels fake because these characters are struggling with real emotions as they try to deal with events and one other’s different approaches to dealing with those events. So, I think the audience can come out and enjoy a fairy tale for adults.

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

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Meet the Makers: Gear

Gear Film

Ant Horasanli, director/co-writer/producer, “Gear”

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


ANT HORASANLI, Director/Co-Writer/Producer: Ant Horasanli is a Toronto-based producer, writer, and director known for Gear (2017), Petrol (2016) and Lost Journey (2010). 

REZA SHOLEH, Co-Writer/Producer: Reza is a writer, producer, and actor and is known for the series Petrol and Gear.

Reza Sholeh

Reza Sholeh, co-writer/producer, “Gear”

When Nate’s car gets stolen, along with a shipment of heroin valued at over $1.5 million, he must convince his boss Roman that there was no foul play. To test Nate’s loyalty, Roman asks Nate to do another job – pick up a girl from Montreal and bring her back to Toronto for execution. Having no choice in the matter, Nate arrives in Montreal only to learn that the girl is Zoe – his late wife’s little sister.

Gear screens at the Willson Oakville Film Festival, Sunday, June 25th, 6:30PM

THE INTERVIEWER: Cathleen MacDonald
I spoke with Ant and Reza following the appearance of their film, Gear, at the Canne Film Festival’s Marche du Film.

CATHLEEN: I understand that the story, Gear, has a history. Tell me about that.

REZA: The original script was written by a British writer, Ray Celestin, and we optioned the script and adapted it to a Toronto–Montreal story. It’s a crime drama that originally took place between London and – I think, Manchester.

CATHLEEN: What changes were necessary to transfer the story from the U.K setting to Canada?

ANT: Changing places was easy. What really differed were the motivations of the characters – and the ending completely changed. The role of Roman, who was originally named Cecile, changed drastically; his character, his motives, and his relationship to Nate. The original story was much more – what we would call, cliché – and we wanted depth and layers to the characters and we wanted to bring out the themes of loyalty and betrayal. The original script was more of a road movie with a Mexican standoff ending. We got rid of all of that.

CATHLEEN: Tell me how you used the crime drama or crime thriller genre and what distinguishes Gear within that genre.

ANT: Within the crime genre there’s a spectrum. Some films are more action driven and others are a slower burn – a complex character study. That’s the direction we went. Some of the films we referenced were Australian films like “Animal Kingdom”. What really separated Gear from other crime dramas was the element of reality. We wanted the characters to be living, breathing human beings We didn’t want the mob boss to be a cigar-smoking, whiskey drinking cartoon character. Instead, he’s this guy who hangs out with his friends; someone you can believe as a regular guy. And pulling out those themes of loyalty and betrayal makes the film less about the plot and more about the themes and the characters.

REZA: To add to that – and it goes back to the script – the authenticity is there in scenes like, at the beginning, where you see these Russian guys hanging out in an old apartment and the mob boss is cooking in the kitchen. That’s closer to reality than any mob boss you see in most films. If you saw Roman in the street, you wouldn’t think he’d be running such an operation. We wanted to bring that to the screen.

CATHLEEN: On the topic of authentic characters, let’s talk about your cast. What were you looking for, how did you find your cast, and what did the actors bring to their characters?

ANT: The character of Nate is played by Toronto actor, Tyler Blake Smith. He’s originally from London and is a bit new to the local scene but he’s been in shows like The Expanse and Dark Matter. We met Tyler on our webseries, Petrol. Tyler is the lead. So, once we knew we were doing this story about Londoners in Toronto, I thought of him right away. Tyler, as Nate, has this sensitivity about him that you can connect to. He has something that made me feel that the audience could buy his motives and buy his situation.

REZA: You can see his soul through his eyes. You can see his innocence. There are many actors who play the bad guy and they try to go all the way and portray a full-out criminal with no other life. Tyler portrayed the bad guy as someone very human.

ANT: Yeah. And the fact that he’s an original Londoner with a natural accent made it all perfect.

CATHLEEN: Tell me about Nicola Posener and her role as Zoe. She’s a complex character who turns out to be much more than meets the eye.

ANT: Nicola is an interesting one. The character of Zoe was the most difficult to cast. We auditioned 150 women in Toronto – and I remember that number, 150 – and we just could not find our Zoe. Nobody had that mix of crazy and unstable and fun and witty and quirky. Then we found Nicola in the U.K. and when we saw her video audition, we knew right away, “Yeah, she’s the girl.” We flew her in for 2 weeks to shoot Gear. She’d never played a dark character like this. So, that’s what drew her to the project. She’d always played these ‘Anne of Green Gables’ characters. It was a real change for her to play this heroine junky sociopath. When we were filming, she could flip from being this fun girl to having deeper motivations. She’s a natural.

REZA: That’s true. Her understanding of the character made Zoe come to life. We originally thought that casting Zoe would be the easiest because there are so many actresses in that age range.

CATHLEEN: You mentioned how Roman, the crime boss character, sets this film apart. Tell me about Gregory Hlady and what he brought to the role of Roman.

ANT: Gregory was fantastic. He’s known as an eastern European actor and he’s been in “Sum of All Fears”, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, and a lot of TV shows.

REZA: And he’s a great theatre actor.

ANT: Yeah. When it came to filming his scenes, you could just tell – he made everyone work to their A-level game. It was fantastic to work with him. He made that character, Roman, more interesting – more alive.

CATHLEEN: This next question is for Ant. You wore many hats on this film. You were the co-writer, director, and producer. What informs your work?

ANT: It’s what I’m used to. On my 1st film, “Lost Journey” I did the same thing: producing, writing, and directing. It feels natural because you’re writing material that you’re going to direct and produce. It’s more cohesive. It’s not like the writer wrote one thing, the director shot something else, and the producer is trying to make sense of it all.

CATHLEEN: Your turn, Reza. How does your background and experience inform your work on Gear?

REZA: I come from an acting background. Then I started writing and producing with Ant on this and other projects. From a production standpoint, feasibility and practically is the priority. In terms of the artistic, my acting background has always helped me – whether it’s writing or problem solving on set, or helping an actor bring a character to life.

CATHLEEN: When people see Gear what can they take away from it?

ANT:I think the audience can bring their own interpretation to Gear because it’s about human nature and what motivates people. The crime boss, for example – at the end, was he really the bad guy or was he the only guy who was honest. He’s a criminal, yes, but he’s the only one who didn’t betray anybody. Everybody betrayed him. Nate seems to be the good guy but really, he wasn’t being truthful. And Zoe, who you think is truthful – well, I won’t give it away.

REZA: The film gives the audience something to ponder at the end.

ANT Yeah. Without giving too much away – that last shot of Roman watching Zoe, makes you wonder what he’s thinking. The audience can interpret it for themselves.

REZA: And that’s the beauty of it. It’s for you to decide what’s right and what’s wrong and who won at the end.

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

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Meet the Makers: The Meaning of Life

the meaning of life film

Cat Hostick (right) director/writer/producer, “The Meaning of Life”

“Meet the Makers” is a series of in-depth interviews to meet the filmmakers and the films of the Willson Oakville Film Festival. Answers are edited for clarity and space.


CAT HOSTICK, Director/Writer/Producer: Cat is a director-producer-writer, is co-owner of North Film Co., and is an actor (“Orphan Black”, “Suits”, “Heroes Reborn”, “Reign”, and “American Gothic”).

RUSS De JONG, Executive Producer/Director of Photography/Editor: Russ is a director of photography, steadicam operator, and is co-owner of North Film Co.

Russ De Jong, executive producer/director of photography, “The Meaning of Life”


A talented but starving young musician, FINN FABER (Tyler Shaw), has 6 months to make his music career take off or he will be forced to go to law school at the will of his father. When he gets a job as a therapeutic clown entertaining sick kids at a hospital, he is assigned to a 9-year old leukaemia patient, SOPHIA HILL (Sadie Munroe), whose own struggles help Finn learn that dreams never die.

The Meaning of Life screens at the Willson Oakville Film Festival, Saturday, June 24th, 8:00PM

THE INTERVIEWER: Cathleen MacDonald

I caught up with Cat and Russ just before they were to leave for Los Angeles to attend the world premiere of their film, The Meaning of Life.

CATHLEEN: Let’s start by talking about the inspiration for your film, The Meaning of Life. What drew you to this story?

CAT: A lot of things but one thing is the idea of art and music as therapy. I grew up as an artist and I was a working artist for years – as a painter, before I started making movies. I always felt it was so therapeutic. Before, when I was struggling with an autoimmune disease, I found that working with art and film helped pull me out of it compared to other medications. I realised it was really mental stuff that was causing the autoimmune disease or was bringing on the symptoms. I think that art and music are so therapeutic and I’d like to see more funding for it in the healthcare system.

RUSS: We wanted to create a positive story and The Meaning of Life has the emotional aspects.

CATHLEEN: Let’s get to one of my favourite questions. Who did you make this film for?

CAT: Honestly, I didn’t make it for anyone specific. It’s a story that came to me. I believe that you should never make art for someone. I find that your audience will find you. This movie is relatable for a lot of people. There are a lot of people who’ve struggled with cancer; there are a lot of people who have kids, who love the arts and music and have changed their lives with it.

RUSS: And it’s for anybody who’s looking for inspiration or help in finding some alternatives to health or other problems or emotional challenges in their lives.

CAT: And it’s about ‘the meaning of life’. A lot of people wonder what that is. This is a story that interprets that. The character finds their own meaning of life through the story.

CATHLEEN: Let’s talk about those emotions. What are the themes and emotions in this film?

RUSS: It has a lot of moments of inspiration and moments about challenges that people can experience in their lives – to use art as a catalyst to work with, to deal with, to learn and to build from, your problems in life.

CAT:It’s a movie that emotionally stays with you. I think that for many people it’s hard not to shed a tear.

RUSS: It’s funny too, though. We watched it ourselves and there are moments that still crack me up; and that was a surprise because we didn’t set out to make a comedy. It really is truly a drama with some sad and emotional moments but there are definitely some comedic moments.

CAT: Yeah. I find that the best movies are the ones where I’m still feeling it and thinking about it days later. I’ll remember how a movie made me feel sometimes long after I’ve forgotten what it was about. So, in my work, I want to make sure I hit home like that in terms of emotions. That’s what I’m trying to do as a director and as a writer – trying to pull the emotions out and let the audience empathise with these characters.

CATHLEEN: Let’s talk about the young protagonist, Finn, (played by Juno nominated recording artist Tyler Shaw). Help us understand why he’s stuck in his life. What’s holding him back and why does he need Sophia?

CAT: Finn has parents who love him; they want the best for him and I think it’s how it is for a lot of people in the arts. It’s a tough shot to make it. He wants to be a musician and his father wants something else for him – law school – and that creates conflicts. But Finn learns to see the bigger picture in music than just the possibility of fame. It’s like why I make movies. I don’t want to make movies just to make movies. I can use movies to teach new things. I want to help people and this is a medium where you can to do that. Finn is similar. He’s stuck in life because he doesn’t know enough. When he encounters Sophia, he learns what life is really about and even what being a musician is about. You don’t need a million people to make your music matter. A song can change one person’s day. Finn learns that, through his music, he can help Sophia.

CATHLEEN: Tyler Shaw, as Finn, appears in his first role as an actor. He did an amazing job. Tell me about working with Tyler as a first-time actor.

RUSS: Yeah. This was his acting debut.

CAT: He’d done music videos and appeared on shows but yeah, this was his first gig as an actor. You know what? Tyler is a natural. When we auditioned him, it was over Skype because he was so busy touring and we had to go to camera in a few days. I was asking a musician to play a musician because I wanted it to be real – not an actor playing a musician. He was perfect for the role. And the music, obviously, was amazing. We’d be blocking (planning) a scene and there would be a song in that scene. So, while we were blocking, he’d go away, write a song and then came back with it, and the song would fit perfectly in the scene like he’d worked on it forever but in actual fact, he’d made it, just like that.

RUSS: Yeah, he really had raw talent from the get-go. And from a production standpoint, we had only 10 days to shoot this film. With such a short timeline, it’s one thing to work with actors who are seasoned and can nail a scene, so that production can move efficiently, but inexperienced actors don’t always get it right away. So, you have to work with them to pull out what you need and it’s a major concern, and risk, when we were on such a tight timeline. I’d worked with Tyler on music videos and I saw something there that suggested a natural talent but he was still inexperienced, so we couldn’t be certain about getting our movie shot in only 10 days. But Tyler nailed it.

CATHLEEN: This film features another talented young actor, Sadie Munroe, playing the challenging role of a child who’s battling cancer. Tell me about how you worked with her.

CAT: We looked at many kids for this role and I wasn’t really drawn to anyone and I thought, “I’m not going to find Sophia”. Then I watched Sadie’s audition tape and she was crying – there was one emotional part where she’s crying and I started crying and I thought, ‘Ok, if you can get me in an audition tape like that,’ then she was the one, for sure. She had a personal experience that she could draw upon; someone she knew who had been going through cancer treatment. So, I think she could empathise with that, even at her age. And she’s a professional actor. She has a reoccurring role on “Working Moms” (CBC).

RUSS: Sadie wasn’t necessarily what we were looking for originally, in terms of a ‘look’. We had already cast the parents, so we were looking for a child to match them. But Sadie is a redhead and just has different looks, overall. Because she was such a strong performer for the role of Sophia, we had to backtrack and recast the parents so they would look like they’re related.

CATHLEEN: Cat and Russ, you both bring so much to the film. Cat, what informs your work as a writer-director? What do you draw upon?

CAT: My goal as a writer is to put something on the screen that teaches my audience something, or that’s maybe controversial, or we haven’t had enough of a dialogue about. This movie is about how to heal your own emotions, first – confronting your mental and emotional health – not just the physical. I also come from an acting background so a lot of my work is dramatic – emotional. I’m always thinking, ‘How does the movie make the audience feel?’

CATHLEEN: Russ, you were the Director of Photography. How did you use the camera to tell this story?

RUSS: We did many things that you wouldn’t normally see in a movie shot with our budget and short schedule. We wanted the movie to have some ‘wow factor’; to have – just from a camera standpoint, a bigger look with long, steady moving shots. The movie starts off with that vast, continuous shot starting 30 feet in the air, then comes down and follows Finn into the house and through the rooms – all in one shot. This relates to the movie because it was important to have moments, without cutting up the shots, so we could get into the scene emotionally – to just let the actors draw us in. So, we have longer moments in the hospital where we let the actors build up their conversations continuously, without cutting back and forth. It feels more real, like you – the audience, are part of the story. From a lighting standpoint, the lighting follows the mood – lighter or darker. Again, keeping it natural but also giving it a more polished look with camera moves that many films on our budget, aren’t as capable of creating as we are.

CATHLEEN: You mentioned how the audience is a part of this film. What do you want the audience to take away from The Meaning of Life?

CAT: I want to provoke a conversation. I think a lot of us don’t know what the meaning of life is; that it’s often an unanswered question. So, I want everyone to watch the film, take away Finn’s meaning in the story but also think about, and assign, their own meanings to their own lives. Along with that – the music and art therapy – confronting the emotional along with the physical. I want a conversation to start around that.

RUSS: I want people to take away the importance of the emotional and mental elements when it comes to healing. I hope people can be inspired to make a difference in their own lives.

CATHLEEN: When the audience sees the film, they’ll see in the end credits a big shout-out to the town of Oakville. Tell me how Oakville had such a key role in getting this film made.

CAT: Well, we love Oakville.

RUSS: Yeah, we live here.

CAT: We wanted to shoot here a-hundred thousand percent. We know Jeff Knoll, who is a councillor for Oakville and the owner of, and Jeff was a huge contributing factor to The Meaning of Life. He helped us get everything in place. Many people here in Oakville were so welcoming and helpful when we needed locations and anything.

RUSS: As a producer, Oakville was the first choice. From a logistical point of view, we live here, our office is here, all our resources are here. It made sense. Oakville has amazing parks; amazing locations, amazing resources. When we first started looking, we found some things but the ball really didn’t start rolling on this movie until we met with Jeff Knoll and he helped us find some key locations. There are a lot of people who helped bring this movie together but we couldn’t have done this without support from the Town of Oakville and especially the help from Jeff. We had as many as 4 location moves in one day. You can’t even park in Toronto in that time. But here in Oakville, people stepped up and helped us at every turn.

CATHLEEN: Finally, can you share something that you think people should know about The Meaning of Life that we haven’t already covered.

CAT: Yes, this might be something that people in Oakville will be interested in and that’s the fact the we shot in the old Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital; the one that just shut down. When we were shooting there, so many people said to us, “Oh, I used to take my son there when he was sick,” and other stories like that. It touched so many people. It was abandoned at the time and we were walking through it and saw a tree sticker on the wall. The painting of ‘the tree of life’ is one of the symbols for our movie, so it was synchronistic.

RUSS: For me, there are a number of things that I want people to know. This is Cat’s first feature film and I think she did a great job. And the fact is – it’s hard to create art but it’s especially hard to create it under the restraints we had – the time and the budget. When people watch this movie, they won’t realize how much went into it or how quickly it was pulled together.

Interview by Cathleen MacDonald

Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

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Don’t miss your chance to be a part of Oakville’s most exciting cultural event!

The Oakville Festivals of Film and Art (OFFA), is pleased to announce the 4th annual Willson Oakville Film Festival, running from Friday June 23rd to Sunday, June 25th.

The Festival returns this summer with more films, more exclusive events and more opportunities to meet directors, actors and filmmakers from across Canada and North America!

Once again, the festival is brought to you by Title Sponsor, Willson International. In addition, OFFA is excited to welcome Budds’ Premium Automotive Group as Presenting Sponsor for 2017.

The festivities begin on June 3rd, with a special outdoor family film screening of ODDBALL, a festival favourite from last year, in the gardens of the historic Oakville Museum. This free event is perfect for the entire family.

Bring a blanket, enjoy the warm lake breezes, and make some memories.

Then, on Friday, June 23rd, the real excitement begins as OFFA presents three days of excellence in independent filmmaking through exclusive screenings, special events and an array of immersive panel discussions.

This amazing schedule includes 19 feature length and limited release films, and over 25 documentaries and shorts – and includes special screenings of Sheridan College student films.

The selected films represent multiple genres, styles and tones – each presenting different perspectives on life and the human condition that connects each of us.

The Willson Oakville Film Festival is committed to engaging, enriching and inspiring our community through film, and we strive to deliver interesting, thought provoking features to a discerning, critical audience for whom emerging film artists from Canada and North America can present their work.

Advance ticket options on sale April 3rd!
Each package provides the best deal to see the films you want at the best price.

Premium Red Carpet VIP Membership $125
Film Lovers Premium Pick 4 Membership $65
Fans Pick 4 at Membership $30


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OFFA to screen Canadian Film classic in celebration of National Canadian Film Day 150

March 13, 2017

Forty-seven years after they made Canadian film history, the stars and director of the iconic Canadian film Goin’ Down the Road (1970) are reuniting in Oakville for a special free screening of the iconic film and its sequel Down the Road Again (2011). This National Canadian Film Day 150 celebratory event, will be hosted by film critic Rob Salem and include a question and answer session with director Don Shebib and actors Doug McGrath, Tedde Moore and Jayne Eastwood. This special double-bill screening will take place at Sheridan College SCAET Theatre, Oakville Trafalgar campus 7pm April 19, National Canadian Film Day 150. 

The event is made possible by the Oakville Festivals of Film & Art and REEL CANADA.

Written and directed by Donald Shebib, Goin’ Down the Road is regarded as one of the best and most influential Canadian films of all time. Critically acclaimed in both Canada and the United States, the film drew comparisons to American classics Easy Rider (1969) and Midnight Cowboy (1969). Winning three Canadian Film awards including Best Original Screenplay, Best Feature Film and Best Lead Actor, Goin’ Down the Road has been ranked as one of the ‘Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time’ by the Toronto International Film Festival, and received four thumbs up by noted film critic Roger Ebert.

Utilizing a unique blend of narrative storytelling and Canadian documentary tradition, the first film follows the misadventures of two friends travelling from Nova Scotia to Toronto, and realistically explores the important social and economic trend of internal labour migration, and the related challenges faced by blue collar workers of the late 1960’s. The sequel captures events occurring 40 years after those in the original film.

Don Shebib is a veteran documentary filmmaker, director, writer, producer and editor, whose work spans over 25 television shows and movies and 30 feature films. A pivotal figure in the development of early English-Canadian cinema and a compassionate chronicler of uniquely Canadian experiences, Don gained critical acclaim for his work on Goin’ Down the Road.

Doug McGrath is a Canadian actor known for Pale Rider (1985) and The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). He has also appeared in acclaimed Canadian films Wedding in White (1972), The Hard Part Begins (1973), the original Black Christmas (1974), Russian Roulette (1975) and Coming Out Alive (1980).

Tedde Moore is a Canadian actress who appeared as Miss Shields in the 1983 film A Christmas Story. She was nominated for a Genie Award at the 5th Genie Awards in 1984 for her acting in the film. She also starred in Mistletoe Over Manhattan (2011) and her other film credits include Second Wind (1976), Murder by Decree (1979), The Amateur (1981), and Rolling Vengeance (1987).

Jayne Eastwood is a Canadian film, voice and television actress, appearing in films since 1970. She was one of the original cast members of the Toronto branch of The Second City comedy troupe and was a semi-regular on SCTV. Jayne was in the original Toronto production of Godspell (1972), appeared in Chicago (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Hairspray (2007).

For 37 years, Rob Salem was a movie and TV critic, columnist and editor at the Toronto Star. He has hosted shows on radio and television, authored several books and has just completed a stage musical. He has taught in the TV Writing and Producing program for the last 11 years.

This is an exciting opportunity for film buffs and history connoisseurs alike to view this iconic film and meet the acclaimed film makers in person.

Tickets are free of charge, but seating is limited. Visit to reserve your tickets today. Tickets will also be available day-of performance at the Theatre.

There is a $5.00 Sheridan College parking fee for those driving to the event.

This year, the Oakville Festivals of Film & Art will once again present the Willson Oakville Film Festival on June 23 – 25. Tickets will be on sale in April, to learn more about this year’s festival, please visit often!

Established in 2014, Oakville Festivals of Film & Art (OFFA) is a cultural not-for-profit organization that envisions a community of cultural and artistic diversity with the cinematic arts as a focal point and provides Oakville’s only independent film festival.

REEL CANADA is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canada through film. The organization promotes the power and diversity of Canadian film and encourages this on-going conversation through three core programs: Our Films in Our Schools, Welcome to Canada, and National Canadian Film Day. Please visit to learn more.


National Canadian Film Day 150 (NCFD 150), an initiative of REEL CANADA, was created as a new way to celebrate this great nation, embrace Canadian cinema, and have some FUN! As part of its educational programmes, REEL CANADA has presented over 1,100 festivals of Canadian films for more than 400,000 high school students and new Canadians across the country since 2005. For 2017, NCFD 150 will become the world’s largest one-day film festival in the world. Canadian film will be everywhere — on foot, online and on-screen — thanks to the generous support of the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario. NCFD 150 would not exist without our sensational major sponsors: Cineplex and Telefilm Canada, Quebec Cinema, Entertainment One, Google Canada, TIFF, Landmark Cinemas, VIA Rail, REDspace, Air Canada, Tim Hortons, William F. White International Inc. and Mecury Filmworks. Major broadcast partners include CBC, Bell Media, Hollywood Suite, Sportsnet, Corus, APTN, CHCH, OUTtv, Vision TV, Super Channel and Quebecor Media. Major distributor partners include Elevation Pictures, Mongrel Media, dFilms, KinoSmith, WFG, TVA, CFMDC, IndieCan Entertainment and Pacific Northwest Pictures.

The Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, is a diploma and degree granting polytechnic institute in Ontario offering program in animation and illustration, music theatre, film and design, business, applied computing, engineering technology, community studies, and liberal studies. Learn more at

For more information please contact:
Nadine Heath, Marketing and Communications Manager, OFFA:
Alex Hughes, Outreach Coordinator, Reel Canada:, 416-639-6320 (office)

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Were You at the Festival?

As we near the final months of 2016, let’s remember the fun we had at this year’s Oakville Film Festival. If you attended the festival, you might recognize some of the people and events in this short video. If you weren’t able to attend, we hope you’ll see how much fun we had and decide to join us next year.

Let’s Do It Again!

videography and editing by Vince Ierulli, 12th Street Productions

Highlights of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival

The Gala

Thank you to our filmmakers, audience, volunteers, and partners for a successful 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival. Here’s a look back at all the fun and excitement during the 3-day festival.

Photography by unless otherwise credited. To obtain copies of photos, please contact your OFFA representative or email

Friday, July 24 Gala Highlights

The Friday Gala brought out an enthusiastic audience that included a who’s who of partners and guests to the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts to see the Canadian premiere of “Manhattan Nocturne” and meet its writer-director, Brian DeCubellis. The film was preceded by a reception with Title Sponsor, Willson International and was followed by an exciting after-party where attendees enjoyed food, drinks, and live music.

Saturday, July 25 Festival Highlights

Day 2 was full of screenings, panels, and special events that included a special appearance by adorable puppies, and a wine and food tasting. Festival goers also enjoyed the 2nd Gala screening, James Franco’s “Memoria” with writer-co-director Nina Ljeti attending.

Friendly, helpful volunteers.

Friendly, helpful volunteers.

"The Light Beneath Their Feet" film panel: L to R: (name) (name) with host, Geoffe Pevere

The screening of

The screening of "The Light Beneath Their Feet" had one of the most engaging discussions.

Lots of questions following screening of

Lots of questions following screening of "The Light Beneath Their Feet".

"The Light Beneath Their Feet" panel in lively discussion with the audience.

Following the screening of

Following the screening of "SOMM: Into the Bottle", The Wine Ladies hosted a wine and food tasting.

Movies and charity! The Oakville & Milton Humane Society brought special guests to the theatre.

Movies and charity! The Oakville & Milton Humane Society brought special guests to the theatre.

Sponsor Canadian Pet Connection showed their support.

Sponsor Canadian Pet Connection showed their support.

In support of Oakville & Milton Humane Society, festival-goers met lookalike 'Stars' from the family film

In support of Oakville & Milton Humane Society, festival-goers met lookalike 'Stars' from the family film "Oddball".

"A Legacy of Whining" writer-director, Ross Munro and producer, Maria Munro.

"A Legacy of Whining" producer, Maria Munro and writer-director-actor, Ross Munro in conversation with the audience.

Guests arriving on the red carpet for Saturday's gala.

Guests arriving on the red carpet for Saturday's gala.

Rushing to the gala.

Rushing to the gala.

Hanging out before the gala.

Hanging out before the gala.

"Memoria" writer and co-director Nina Ljeti Interviewed on the red carpet.

Media sponsor, CHCH.

Media sponsor, CHCH.

Host, Rob Salem welcomes the audience to the Saturday gala of

Host, Rob Salem welcomes the audience to the Saturday gala of "Memoria".

James Franco to the audience via video,

James Franco to the audience via video, "I wish I were there!"

"Memoria" writer co-director, Nina Ljeti in conversation with the audience.

"Memoria": Questions from the audience.

Dr. Brenda Combs (left) and

Dr. Brenda Combs (left) and "Memoria" writer-co-director Nina Ljeti (right) answer audience questions.

L to R:

L to R: "Chasing Valentine" Navin Ramaswaran (director), Neal Schneider (writer), Adam Langton (lead actor: Chase), Gina Simone (assistant director), Brad Cowan (actor: Brad).

"Chasing Valentine" Gina Simone (AD), Bruno Marino (producer), Navin Ramaswaran (director), Adam Langton (actor: Chase), Kyle McBride (PA)

"Angry Indian Goddesses" panellists in conversation with the audience.

"Angry Indian Goddesses" panellists in conversation with the audience.

"Angry Indian Goddesses" audience asking questions to the panel.

"Angry Indian Goddesses" audience.

Arriving for the World Premiere of

Arriving for the World Premiere of "Scratch" at lead venue sponsor, Cinemas.

"Scratch" writer-director Maninder Chana before his screening.

Sunday, July 26 Festival Highlights

Day 3 offered more screenings and opportunities to meet the filmmakers.

"8% No Limit" director Lisa Lightbourn-Lay (L) with ultra-runner Rhonda-Marie Avery (R)

"Fastball" director Jeremy McCracken, winner of Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film

"Les Demons" writer-director Philippe LeSage

Julian Kingston of the Oakville Museum presented some local Group of Seven history at the

Julian Kingston of the Oakville Museum presented some local Group of Seven history at the "Painted Land" screening.

"Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven" (L to R) art historian Michael Burtch, conservationists Joanie and Gary McGuffin. and director Phyllis Ellis.

"Runners" actor Dr. Brenda Combs

"The Sabbatical" writer-director Brian Stockton

"Through the Divide" director Faran Moradi with "Fastball director Jeremy McCracken



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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival Opens with “Manhattan Nocturne”

On the warm, clear evening of Friday, June 24th, over 300 people arrived at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts to celebrate the opening of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival. Beaming couples and groups of friends strolled up the red carpet and paused in front of the step and repeat ‘celebrity’ wall to smile for cameras before continuing into the theatre. They were here to enjoy the gala Canadian Premiere of “Manhattan Nocturne” starring Adrien Brody, Yvonne Strahovski, and Jennifer Beals.

Truly an Independent Film


“Manhattan Nocturne” writer-director Brian DeCubellis is interviewed on the red carpet at the opening gala of the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival.

The film’s New York City based writer-director, Brian DeCubellis mingled with the crowd that included Peter Willson, President and CEO of title sponsor Willson International. In these moments before the screening, DeCubellis paused for photos and an interview on the red carpet.

“This was a passion project of mine for many years, having read the novel in 1999 and beginning the effort to make the movie then. This movie exists because of a love of filmmaking by everyone involved on both sides of the camera. This is truly an independent film.”

Audience Participation

Inside the theatre, during the opening remarks, things suddenly took a surprising turn when festival Executive Director, Wendy Donnan called out a seat number and announced that the occupant of that seat was the winner of a unique hand-made leather purse by sponsor, 1uv Designs. The winners, a couple seated in the mid-section, were delighted to receive their prize.

The audience continued to participate through the evening. Following the screening of “Manhattan Nocturne”, festival host Rob Salem facilitated an engaging audience conversation with DeCubellis. Among the many questions posed to the congenial filmmaker were “How did the film get made,” and “What does the film noir genre mean in 2016?”

Said DeCubellis, “It was a 17 year process that finally came together when Adrien Brody came on board.”

About the film noir genre, DeCubellis explained, “From the time the book was written to the time the film was made, a lot has changed in the newspaper business and in the world in general. The film reflects that by making Adrien Brody’s character, as a newspaper reporter, an endangered species and by including in the story various technologies that either weren’t common in the 1990’s or didn’t even exist.”

Brian DeCubellis

Writer-director Brian DeCubellis answers questions from the audience at the Canadian Premiere of his film, “Manhattan Nocturne”.

“I was fortunate to have this stellar cast. Adrien Brody is amazing. His performance is subtle and alive in every frame – the acting disappears and we are just with the character. Yvonne Strahovski really takes the leading lady role in a noir of the femme fatale to a 2.0 place for our time in a brilliant way. People think they know Campbell Scott but they will be surprised by his performance. Some people don’t even recognize him ‘til halfway through the movie. And Jennifer Beals is fantastic as the moral centre. You could argue that her role is the most challenging because of what is required of Lisa to do narratively as providing the stakes in the way the story is told. Supporting cast like Linda Lavin and Steven Berkoff bring so much humanity to their characters. I really get excited about the audience enjoying all those performances.”

The opening gala of “Manhattan Nocturne” kicked off 3 days of films and events to Sunday, June 26th.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Films to See: “The People Garden”

The People GardenNadia Litz has written and directed this unique story of grief and moving on. Sweetpea (Dree Hemingway, great granddaughter of Ernest) travels to a remote forest near Mount Fuji, Japan to end her relationship with her rock-star boyfriend Jamie (François Arnaud). She arrives at the airport expecting to see Jamie but is met by enigmatic Mak (Jai West) who takes her to a mysterious forest where Jamie is filming his latest music video. Except Jamie is missing and Sweetpea’s efforts to find him lead her to clash with the music video’s model, Signe (Pamela Anderson) and draw guarded attention from Mak. In this beautiful and sinister setting, Sweetpea must face the truth about what she wants while she helps Mak free himself from his own secret pain.

Why You Might Like “The People Garden”

“The People Garden” is an intricacy of subtle acting and cinematic language that delivers deeper meaning. Cinephiles will appreciate that the story is in the details – from the forest’s sinister allure to simple objects like the brown paper bags – the first of which is secreted away beneath Mak’s bed – that gradually become powerful symbols. In the final scene of 2 characters driving away from Mount Fuji, each one holds a paper bag. These objects are by now so infused with meaning that the scene leads us to a satisfying conclusion. You can view the trailer and buy tickets for “The People Garden” here.

Written by Cathie McCready
Cathie McCready is a film-buff who is writing her 1st novel.

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Meet the Makers: “A Legacy of Whining” Writer, Director, Actor Ross Munro

“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.

Ross Munro

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: ROSS MUNRO, writer/director/actor
Ross Munro is an actor and writer, known for Broken Palace (2014), A Legacy of Whining(2016) and Brewster McGee (2000).

The past ain’t all it’s cracked up to be when two former high school friends reunite thirty years later in a painfully comedic and bittersweet rollercoaster of an evening.

Q: What kind of film did you want to make?

Ross: A buddy comedy. I grew up watching movies in the ‘70’s and I saw buddy movies where there’s a tradition of humour. There’s banter between the buddy characters and the buddies are matched for comedic effect. I watched Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. They had a lot of banter back and forth – even when faced with serious trouble – and they often used sarcasm to comment on the problems in the story. I liked these movies and they were an inspiration that led me to do a buddy comedy.

Q: Help us understand the buddies, Mitch and Dunc.

Ross: Mitch and Dunc reunite 30 years after high school. When they meet in the airport, they want this to be a new beginning but it doesn’t take long for Dunc to remember how Mitch used to bother him. Mitch, who is the character I play, has barely changed. We all know people like that – living in the past. Mitch hasn’t really progressed. Given the opportunity to reunite with his high school friend, he wants everything to be the same as it was back then. Making Mitch an actor feeds into the idea that he lives in a fantasy world. I wanted to contrast Mitch with Dunc. Dunc has progressed but in a way that’s cynical and hardened. Dunc is a drinker and a womanizer with a broken marriage. He criticises Mitch; he’s like ‘the devil on your shoulder’ that reminds you of your failings. In this case Mitch is a failed actor. They’re 2 sides of the same coin.

Q: What are the themes in “A Legacy of Whining”?

Ross: As it says in the film’s description, “The past ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.” The big theme is male midlife crisis. Mitch sees a better version of himself in his fantasies while Dunc talks big but he’s really just a drinker and a womanizer. Mitch is at a crossroads in his acting career; he has to answer to the choices he’s made. Has he wasted his life? Did he make choices that led to failure? The title says it – “A Legacy of Whining”. Many people reach a time in their lives when they wonder, “What’s my legacy?” For Mitch the theme of legacy creates painful humour because his life might not have any meaning. The dynamic between Mitch and Dunc is like that between Laurel and Hardy – the insults and slights; Mitch having his dreams ridiculed by Dunc. By looking at each other’s lives, both characters are seeing how other choices could have led to other kinds of failure. We all want to leave a legacy. For the average person, being fondly remembered by their children is enough for them to be proud and happy.

Q: Who is this film for?

Ross: I believe even though the main characters are 50-something males, the story is universal. It asks the question, “Who am I?” At different ages we all feel angst over making life choices. We wonder, “Am I enough?” Another audience group who will appreciate the film are people who have a broad knowledge of film and genres. They’ll get the references to movies of other decades like “Five Easy Pieces” and the Fred Astaire musicals. I use movie references throughout – especially in Mitch’s fantasy sequences.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from this film?

Ross: I want them to be entertained and laugh and be invested in the world of the movie. I wanted to create a nocturnal dreamlike world where anything can happen. I hope they might see a little bit of themselves or relate to things in their own lives. Though not everyone reunites with an old buddy after 30 years, we can find these interpersonal dynamics in many relationships. We can all relate to painful self-discovery.

Q: Is there anything more you’d like the audience to know about the film?

Ross: A lot of Canadian independent films are a labour of love. My wife, Marie is the producer of “A Legacy of Whining” but she wasn’t originally a producer. She’s a graphic designer. To help me on this journey to bring this film to the light of day, she went out and learned all she could about producing. Everybody on this film worked hard and sacrificed. Now getting in front of an audience is amazing for us. Marie and I are excited to come to Oakville.

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

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Films to See: “Scratch”

ScratchThe heist movie genre gets a makeover for a broader audience. Nice girl everywoman, Samantha is first seen as the bewildered ‘last person standing’ amidst the bloody aftermath of a gangland gunfight. From here we go back to see how she got into this mess. In this gritty and sometimes darkly comedic story, Samantha is a rookie armoured truck security guard who quickly finds herself caught between corrupt coworkers and the mob. She is joined by a fresh cast that includes brash gang ‘girlfriend’, Gigi who torments a pair of Russian thugs, and a racist homophobe who gets comeuppance from an openly gay gangster. When the last bullet is fired and the police investigation hits a dead end, prepare yourself for a surprise.

Why You Might Like “Scratch”

“Scratch” is an entertaining ride that elevates the heist movie genre by subverting some of its stereotypes and injecting a dark comedic undertone. Fans of action films will enjoy seeing the bad guys posturing and battling for power and money while a broader audience will appreciate the atypical characters and smart clues that unfurl in the final minutes. You can view the trailer and buy tickets for “Scratch” here.

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

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Meet the Makers: “Scratch” Director, Maninder Chana

“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.

Maninder Chana

An award-winning writer, director, producer and actor, Maninder Chana was the driving force behind the comedy troupe ‘Mixed Nuts’. He is the writer of the feature film ‘Cell 213’, and is the writer-director of the film, ‘Little Terrors’. You can meet Maninder following the screening of “Scratch” on Saturday, June 25, 9:30PM.

ABOUT THE FILM: “Scratch” is about a female rookie armoured truck guard who is caught between her co-workers’ plot to rob their own truck and greedy gangsters desperate to grab the loot.

Q: How would you describe the comedy style and tone of the film, “Scratch”?

Maninder: Dark comedy. It starts comedic then switches gears to something more serious then switches tone again when everything goes south. I have a comedy background – I used to be in a comedy troupe – and I took the elements of the heist genre but brought a dark comedy tone to it.

Q: This film plays with the elements and tropes of the heist genre. How did this develop?

Maninder: I like deconstruction pieces. This is a deconstruction of a heist movie. To go back to the beginning, I was approached by the producer, Michael Dragnea, who had seen my film, “Little Terrors”. When I was first told the concept, it struck me as being like films I’d seen before, right down to all the characters being white. After some discussions with Michael, I reworked the idea. I stuck to the spirit of the story but I took what was basically a linear, straightforward tale and turned it on it’s head. It was important to not do the same old thing – like it was important to me to not have the black characters killed first as they so often are in American films. Another character that changed a lot from the original script was Steve. He’s the one who comes up with the great idea to pull off the heist. I made him a racist, homophobic, misogynistic guy who’s in this situation with 2 black guys and a gay gangster. What could be more complicated and terrifying for a racist homophobe? I also cast against stereotypes. I like multicultural casts, so I wanted Russians who could actually speak Russian – not English-speaking actors affecting a bad Russian accent. With the recent debate at the Oscars about the problem of all-white casting (#oscarssowhite), I believe that one way we can change that is to go out and cast multicultural. I have a great casting director (Sweeney MacArthur) who found good actors of colour. We found J.J. Reville who plays the transvestite singer, Gigi, who’s kidnapped by the Russian gangsters. Instead of being a helpless victim, Gigi gives the bad guys a hard time. And of course, we found Julie Romaniuk as Samantha. She’s believable as a straight up character but there’s also a femme fatale quality about her; she’s more than an innocent victim.

Q: Samantha seems at first to be an unassuming and incorruptible protagonist but there’s more to her. Help us understand her character.

Maninder: Samantha (played by Julie Romaniuk) is from a poor background and she’s struggling to make it on her own. Without giving too much away – she needs this steady job with good pay. We perceive her as a goody two-shoes who is thrown in with men who, unknown to her, are planning a heist. She’s a fish out of water and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Instinct kicks in as she tries to save herself.

Q: For what audience did you make “Scratch”?

Maninder: The film evolved in such a strange way. It was originally for an action movie audience. Then I rewrote it to bring in a dark comedic element and also a bit of artistry. The film’s appeal is broader than any niche. It’s for people who like action and dark comedy. I didn’t want to make a pretentious film. My last film, “Little Terrors” was serious, so I wanted to have fun with this one.

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

Maninder: I want them to have a good time. I want them to relax and lose themselves for a couple of hours. You have to use your brain a bit to put together the pieces of the puzzle but it’s fun and uncomplicated. Enjoy the ride.

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

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Meet the Makers: “The Flying Stars”, Allan Tong and Ngardy Conteh George

“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.

Allan Tong

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS: ALLAN TONG, co-director/writer/producer
Allan is a Toronto filmmaker who wrote and directed the shorts “Little Mao” and “I Want To Be a Desi”, which Bravo aired after the film enjoyed award-winning festival runs. His short drama, “Grange Avenue” (2008) also played festivals and was broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Previously, Allan apprenticed as a documentary director and producer at the National Film Board of Canada. You can meet co-director and writer, Allan Tong following the screening of “The Flying Stars” on Sunday, June 26, 12:30PM.


Ngardy ContehNGARDY CONTEH GEORGE, co-director/editor/producer
As a Sierra Leonean-Canadian, Ngardy Conteh George wants to tell stories of the African Diaspora. As a director she has achieved this with “Soldiers for the Streets”, a short documentary for the NFB, broadcast on CBC Television and Literature Alive, and a documentary series featuring Caribbean-Canadian authors broadcast on Bravo!



ABOUT THE FILM: “The Flying Stars” tells the story of war amputee soccer players in Sierra Leone who are struggling with the lingering trauma caused by the horrors of war they suffered a decade ago.

Q: What drew you to this story?

Allan: In 2008 I saw a photo slideshow in Toronto that included shots by New York photographer, Fiona Aboud. Her photos and videos showed one-legged soccer players flying across the field – and these guys were faster on one leg than I was on two. I was personally inspired and I had this eureka moment where I knew I’d found a film. I had to know more about the people and this place, Sierra Leone, so I asked Fiona to connect me with some of the players and she did.

Ngardy: I was editing another project when Allan said that he wanted to make a film about amputee soccer players – or football as they call it there. I said I’d been looking to tell stories from Sierra Leone. I’m originally from Sierra Leone.

Allan: At the time I had no idea Ngardy was from there! It was fate.

Q: As you got deeper into the project, how did your feelings about the story evolve from the initial inspiration?

Allan: I originally wanted to follow the soccer team to the world championship but as we learned more about the characters and as the possibility of the team reaching the championship became less likely, we started to focus more on personal stories; especially the charismatic team captain, Bornor. He was very open about sharing his personal life and feelings and we learned he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His experiences in the war – including having his leg amputated – had left him traumatised and angry. He was struggling to support his family as a person with a disability in one of the poorest countries in the world.

Q: Did something happen during filming that defined the final film? If so, what was it?

Ngardy: A lot of story decisions are made during editing, not during filming. While filming, we had a lot of story threads to follow. We filmed things that seemed minor at the time because we didn’t know, ‘will that be relevant?’ We filmed more players than the audience sees in the film. Later, when we looked at all the footage, we could see what stood out – what was the strongest material. The PTSD story became important. It was something lingering and haunting, so we followed that thread during editing. It’s important to understand that in Sierra Leone, mental illness isn’t treated the way it is here. There isn’t the support or access to medical care. Sometimes mental illness is treated spiritually by talking to a church pastor.

Q: You’ve talked about how hard it was to start this film but at what point did it become harder to keep going?

Allan: Finding more money was a constant struggle. We shot over 24 months and made trips back and forth to Sierra Leone. We had to pay for travel – flights and transportation while in the country – food, medical. It’s very expensive to fly to Sierra Leone and at the same time you’re taking all this time to look for funding and make the film while you still have to pay your own bills. We have to credit the Sundance Documentary Institute for their support throughout this project. When we had to go to Sierra Leone, they helped.

Ngardy: Trying to find time to shoot and edit the film often meant giving up income from paying work.

Allan: Other than money, we followed so many characters and some were more open than others. Bornor (the main character) was quite open about his personal life, his family, and emotions and he was a good speaker. Not everyone was as open – and some people, though they had amazing stories, couldn’t articulate them.

Ngardy: We had to stay in touch with people in between filming trips to stay connected with them; what was going on in their lives and to keep their interest and trust. It was important that they knew we weren’t just opportunists showing up with cameras. Sierra Leoneans have a perspective on foreign camera crews. During and after the war, the media showed up to cover stories, so there’s the impression that if you’re ‘western media’ you must have money and that you’re making lots of money with your film. If you just show up, film, and go away, you’re seen to be keeping the money for yourself. To maintain relationships of trust, we had to make it understood that we weren’t a rich media outlet – far from it. We were barely putting two pennies together.

Q: What are some of the universal themes in this film that are relatable for the average person?

Allan: Bornor is a provider. He has children who he’s trying to feed and he’s trying to keep a roof over their heads in one of the poorest countries in the world. Being an amputee is a stigma, so he has to find a way to show that he can do something deserving of respect. Being a football player gets him some respect. Football is as popular there as hockey is here.

Ngardy: There are themes of family and the need for family and belonging. These men are not always considered as being part of the community.

Allan: They’re outsiders and they find family in one another by playing ‘the beautiful game’.

Q: What impact is the film having?

Allan: It’s raising awareness about amputees in a country (Sierra Leone) that many people have never heard of. The film is being seen in the U.S., Canada, and it was on Al Jazeera in the Middle East. It’s going around the world.

Ngardy: The more people who see the film, the more Bornor and other amputees can benefit from changing attitudes. The amputees are seeking respect as valuable members of society. When their countrymen see this film on Al Jazeera, they see the amputees in a positive light. The film reaches out to show the players’ humanity. The players only want to be self-sufficient; not be begging in the streets. Sierra Leone has an extremely high unemployment rate. It’s hard enough for people who have two arms and legs to find work. Imagine what it’s like for an amputee.

Q: What do you want audiences to take away from the film?

Ngardy: I want people to see these guys’ stories and hear their own words. It’s their stories – no narrator – told in a respectful way without pity.

Allan: Be inspired. Bornor carries the scars of war – it’s not abstract – it’s not about pity. This is a real effect of war. Be haunted by it.

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

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FiIms to See: “The Flying Stars”

The Flying StarsHave you ever wondered what your life would be like if, in a moment, you’d made a different decision? Would it be better, worse, or just different? Bornor Kargbo’s dream to be a war hero led him to become a soldier in Sierra Leone’s civil war. Instead he found horrors, regret, and despair. “The Flying Stars” is a beautifully shot documentary about the desperate lives of amputee soccer players in Sierra Leone and in particular, the story of Flying Stars team captain, Bornor. Like the thousands of Sierra Leonean war amputees, Bornor struggles to survive and to feed his family. To cope with his trauma, he finds a new dream to win the world amputee soccer championship. Co-directors Allan Tong and Ngardy Conteh George and their crew have created a visually stunning story of struggle, regret, and hope. By playing soccer and aspiring to the world amputee soccer championship, Bornor and his team vie for respect in a country where amputees are shunned and impoverished.

Why You Might Like “The Flying Stars”

“The Flying Stars” inspires us with the story of the human spirit pitted against the legacy of war’s cruelty. Beautifully shot and crafted, it captures life in Sierra Leone and gives us a look at the lives of Bornor, his family, and his teammates. Bornor is an unlikely ‘soccer star’ and his exceptional ability as a player must be seen to be believed. You can meet co-director Allan Tong following the Sunday, June 26th, 12:30PM screening of “The Flying Stars” and you can view the trailer for “The Flying Stars” here.

Written by Cathie McCready
Cathie McCready is a film-buff who is writing her 1st novel.

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Meet the Makers: “8% No Limit” Lisa Lightbourn-Lay

“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.

Lisa Lightbourn-Lay

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: LISA LIGHTBOURN-LAY is an award-winning documentary producer,director, editor, and cinematographer with over 20 years experience in live television, web, and documentary. As a filmmaker, her passion lies in telling stories that effect social change and give focus to issues and people who strive to make a difference.You can meet Lisa at the Willson Oakville Film Festival on Sunday, June 26, 2016 following the 1:30PM screening of her film, “8% No Limit”.

ABOUT THE FILM: “8% No Limit” tells the story of Rhonda-Marie Avery, who set out on a 20-day 885 km run on the Bruce Trail. Rhonda-Marie has 8% vision.

Q: How did you meet Rhonda-Marie and decide to make “8% No Limit”?

Lisa: I met Rhonda through a mutual friend and fellow racer, Kate Solovieva, who told me about an ultra runner (people who run more than the marathon distance of 42 kms) who was planning to run the 885 km Bruce Trail – and this runner is blind. Meeting Rhonda pushed me in the direction of making a film but what solidified it was reading a lecture Rhonda had written. She’s an immensely moving writer. There was something in almost every paragraph that I connected with or that made me cry. I knew I wanted her voice to be heard.

Q: There are many films that celebrate the power of the human spirit. What distinguishes “8% No Limit” from other inspirational documentaries?

Lisa: I didn’t want to be heavy-handed about disabilities. It was Rhonda’s nature that drew me in. There’s the idea of disability and then there’s Rhonda the ultra runner. Ultras embrace the struggle and the pain. The harder it is the more they want to do it. So I didn’t see the story as being about Rhonda having a disability; I saw it as her own story told by her own strong voice as an advocate.

Q: What do you want the audience to understand about Rhonda and her story?

Lisa: I don’t know if I want the audience to think only about Rhonda so much as I want them to understand that putting people in boxes limits them more than the disability. People find ways to overcome challenges but when they are labelled or put in a ‘box’ it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I recall something that Cody Gillies (former Bruce Trail record holder and guide runner on the Bruce) said to Rhonda – ‘once you think you’ve reached your limit and you’ve done this epic thing, you’ve already gone past it’.

Q: What impact do you want “8% No Limit” to have?

Lisa: I wanted to give a voice to someone who felt she didn’t have a platform. I hope the film opens doors for Rhonda and other-abled athletes everywhere. I wanted to go beyond ‘the choir’ and reach a broader audience and I knew a broad audience would respond to Rhonda. She’s a powerful speaker and she lives the idea of no limits every day and in all of her ultra challenges. Her next challenge is to race a double anvil (a double triathlon) in Florida, March of 2017.

Q: What was the hardest part of making this film?

Lisa: It was hard in a number of ways. Of course the 20-day shoot on the road was taxing but I’m used to that. The hardest part was – during a run, Rhonda is ‘in the bubble’. As an ultra runner she’s so focussed on the run that she’s barely aware of anything else. For me as a filmmaker trying to engage the person I’m filming, it was hard to get through Rhonda’s bubble. I didn’t want to interfere with her concentration but I needed to engage her. I wanted to make sure I told her story right and I didn’t want to misrepresent it, so I needed to connect with her. The Bruce Trail is more arduous and treacherous than many people realise. It demands your focus.

Q: What was the easiest part of making this film?

Lisa: Telling Rhonda’s story. Her voice is so powerful. I didn’t want this to just be a journey documentary or just another running film. I wanted people to think of it as looking into someone’s diary – something very personal. I wanted it to be her words that take us through her experience.

Q: What else do you want people to know about this film?

Lisa: To never make assumptions about people; to not limit them with labels and boxes. If there are limits, they’re meant to be looked past and beyond.

Film website for “8% No Limit”.

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

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Films to See: “The Sabbatical”

The Sabbatical

It’s been said that satire is best when seasoned with pathos. Before embarking on his sabbatical to publish a photography book, cynical middle-aged Professor James Pittman (played with deadpan perfection by James Whittingham) is urged by a superior to “make this next book thicker than the last”. It’s a scene of satire and poignancy that evokes empathy for James because you know that his creative block is the least of his problems. James battles a middle-aged crisis that mines the fears of aging men. When pushed by his workaholic wife, James sees a doctor about a vasectomy and ends up losing his drivers license. (There’s no explaining this. You have to see it.) Unable to drive himself to photography outings, James hires free-spirited twenty-something, Lucy (Laura Abramsen) as a driver. Thus forms an unlikely friendship that forces James to face the fact that he’s not getting any younger and there’s no going back.

Why You Might Like “The Sabbatical”

“The Sabbatical” takes the oft-examined topics of middle age angst and generation gaps and weaves them into deadpan humour. Comedian James Whittingham’s fine Improv skills are curated by director Brian Stockton to create scenes that feel organic instead of feeling like obvious Improv. On the surface “The Sabbatical” appears to be light entertainment but it stays in your thoughts long after the film is over. If you enjoy slice-of-life comedy delivered by a great cast – and especially if you’re a fan of Brian Whittingham, you’ll enjoy “The Sabbatical”.

You can read more about “The Sabbatical” in our interview with Director, Brian Stockton.

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

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Meet the Makers: “The Sabbatical” Director, Brian Stockton

“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.

Brian Stockton

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: BRIAN STOCKTON is a filmmaker and educator who works across genres, including drama, documentary and animation. He holds an MFA from York University and was a director resident at the Canadian Film Centre. His recent focus has been on humorous films including his acclaimed “Saskatchewan Trilogy” (2002-2006) and “My Dinner with Generation X” (2010). He currently teaches film production at the University of Regina. You can meet Brian at the Willson Oakville Film Festival on Sunday, June 26 following the 6:30PM screening of his film, “The Sabbatical”.

ABOUT THE FILM: “The Sabbatical” tells the story of burnt-out professor James Pittman who struggles with a middle-age crisis.

Q:Tell us about your approach to the film. How do you approach comedy and how did James Whittingham (who plays the lead, James Pittman) factor into it?

Brian: The film was built around James. We’ve known each other for about 30 years. We made a short film together and I felt it was time to do a feature. James’ strength as a comedian is improvisation. We used Improv to try different approaches and tones to find those things that worked best for the film. My goal was to make this movie as funny as possible, so I let James improvise some dialogue and actions within scenes. Once I saw the results, I’d use the shots that worked the best and were the funniest.

Q: James and his wife (played by Bernadette Mullen) have an interesting relationship. What’s going on between those two?

Brian: When James meets Lucy (the young woman he befriends), the obvious approach would have been to make the wife jealous. So we did the opposite. We made her busy with her own career and life and we made her the type to trust him. We thought it would be funnier this way rather than to make her the stereotypical jealous wife.

Q: You put James through a lot. What are you trying to say about men who are experiencing a middle-age crisis?

Brian: The perspective comes from experience. I’m a middle-aged man – though I have a great life and I’m happy with what I’m doing – but I’m aware that some people reach a point – life’s half-way point, where they wonder, ‘Did I make the right choices?’ James’ problems are very real and serious to him but they’re first world problems, so it’s funny. The film is saying, ‘Don’t take life too seriously’.

Q: Lucy (Laura Abramsen) helps James through some of his issues, though she’s about half his age. Help us understand their friendship.

Brian: Lucy is a lot younger but she’s as smart as James and in that way she’s his equal – she’s just not as experienced. Again, instead of the stereotypical older man – younger woman approach, we did the opposite, so the dynamic between them is more interesting.

Q: The scenes of James at Lucy’s place when he’s with her young friends show the divide between generations but it says something more. What’s the film telling us?

Brian: I think as we get older, at a certain age we become invisible to young people. As a professor I’m around young people a lot and I see this happening as old people complain about the younger generation and younger people ignore or complain about old people. James needs to resolve his issues but first he has to face that he isn’t the same guy anymore. Being in these situations with younger people forces him to do that.

Q: What do you want the audience to get from “The Sabbatical”?

Brian: I love making people laugh. I want people to leave the theatre with smiles on their faces. Drama is often considered to be the most important film genre but I think comedy is just as important.

Q: What else do you want to say about “The Sabbatical”?

Brian: It’s a slice of life; not overly structured or contrived. Some people might think it doesn’t follow a conventional approach for movies and some people might think it’s issues aren’t big enough. Some movies are about saving the world but I like movies that are about the little things in life. Those little things are important.

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

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Films to See: “The Demons (Les Demons)”

The DemonsChildhood fears, real and imagined, drive this story of a sensitive young boy whose life in 1980’s Montreal suburbia is complicated by family instability and outside threats. The ‘demons’ are initially implied to be the inner demons plaguing imaginative young Felix, whose fears range from parental discord to AIDS and the news of abducted boys. Director Philippe Lesage uses a measured pace, naturalistic performances, and a paradoxically realistic setting to create unease and set us up for the provocative and unsettling later scenes that reveal the real demon in the midst.

Why You Might Like “The Demons”

“The Demons” is stimulating cinema for the perceptive cinephile. The lingering, carefully composed shots reveal more than what is on the surface and the film draws us into the child’s world where we can reconnect with feelings of curiosity, vulnerability, and anxiety. In a daring move, the film turns imaginative fears into a real threat that might be disturbing for some viewers. This dark turn is masterfully handled to bring the story to a meaningful conclusion. If you love an arthouse psychological thriller drama, you should see “The Demons”. You can view the trailer and buy tickets for “The Demons” here.

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

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Films to See: “Lure”

Lure2Things are not always as they appear. Determined to deliver her overdue thesis on the use of the internet to inflict indirect violence, post-graduate student Rebecca Markowitz (Andrea Lee Norwood) wants to interview imprisoned internet stalker ‘suicide nurse’, Eric Daltry (Glen Matthews). Unable to access Daltry, Rebecca seeks a side interview with Marshall Spencer, the grandfather of one of Daltry’s victims. Spencer, a powerful businessman with motives of his own, surprises Rebecca by getting her interviews with Daltry. This sets up a story that seems to be about the search for answers and justice but twists into a tale of revenge and redemption. Rebecca’s desperate inquests with the intelligent and manipulative Daltry are the film’s tense focal point where we discover that we are all capable of using our emotional power to influence other people.

Why You Might Like “Lure”

“Lure” is compelling, thought-provoking entertainment. It’s 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. The film takes you down one emotional path only to surprise you with new revelations. If you appreciate good acting and enjoy a story with a twist, you should see “Lure”. You can view the trailer and buy tickets for “Lure” here.
Written by Cathleen MacDonald
Cathleen MacDonald is a writer and filmmaker.

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Films to See: “A Light Beneath Their Feet”

A Light Beneath Their FeetMadison Davenport and Taryn Manning deliver stunning performances in this ‘life is complicated’ story of 17-year old Beth (Madison Davenport) who is struggling to choose between the local college, so she can continue to care for her mother who has bipolar disorder (Taryn Manning) or a California college where she can pursue her dream. Director Valerie Weiss shows us Beth’s struggle through the life experiences that influence her decision. For Beth, the roles have been reversed as she is the ‘mom’ to her mother, Gloria who struggles with her mental illness. It is emotionally powerful to see how Gloria faces her illness and how it affects each person in her life from her ex-husband, and daughter, Beth, to her employer.

Why You Might Like “A Light Beneath Their Feet”

“A Light Beneath Their Feet” offers compelling performances and intelligent insights into a continually misunderstood mental illness. It puts a human face on the issue by showing how we all stumble through life; at times in control and at other times unable to manage. Following the film, audience members can join in a stimulating discussion with festival host Rob Salem and a panel of experts on bipolar disorder. You can view the trailer for “A Light Beneath Their Feet” here.

Written by Cathie McCready
Cathie McCready is a film-buff who is writing her 1st novel.

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Free Outdoor Movie at the Oakville Museum

Movie in the Park 2016Before dusk on June 3, 2016, grab your blankets and chairs to get the best seats in the house for a free family-friendly outdoor movie on the lawn of the Oakville Museum, 8 Navy Street, downtown Oakville. The museum and the Willson Oakville Film Festival will present the hit comedy, WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY starring David Tennant (Dr. Who), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Billy Connolly.

A Festival Encore Screening

WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY was the Oakville Film Festival’s sold out 2015 gala film. At that screening, the audience gave the film and its U.K. director, Guy Jenkin, such jubilant laughter and a warm Oakville welcome that Jenkin later remarked that his visit to Oakville was by far his best festival audience experience. Come enjoy this encore presentation at the Oakville Museum on the big outdoor screen provided by our own local cinemas.


  • DATE: Friday, June 3, 2016    (raindate Saturday, June 4)
  • TIME: dusk
  • LOCATION: Oakville Museum at Erchless Estate, 8 Navy Street, downtown Oakville
  • Bring your own chairs and blankets

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Film Festival Benefits

“What’s 1 benefit of a film festival?” That’s one of the questions answered by our Title Sponsor, Peter Willson in his 2nd video, “3 More Questions With Peter Willson”. Not satisfied to be a sponsor in name only, Peter offers insights into how the Willson Oakville Film Festival provides filmmakers with an opportunity to reach a new audience and for the public to see films that might not otherwise be available in Oakville and its surrounding communities.

Watch the video to hear Peter answer this and other questions:

Article and Video by Cathleen MacDonald, Motion Picture Enterprises
Filmmaker, Cathleen MacDonald, creates media content for entertainment, education, and communications.

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The Making of a Film Supporter

At the Oakville Festivals of Film and Art we’re ramping up with preparations for the June 24–26, 2016 festival and this year we’re extra excited. Why? Because of our wonderful new title sponsor, Willson International Ltd. Peter Willson and his family are active members of the Oakville community, with a long track record of supporting important initiatives in health care, education, and the arts. Peter, a big movie lover, is a natural fit for our festival family of independent film fanatics! We’re honoured and pleased as punch to have Willson International on board.

Let’s hear Peter’s story:

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

Video by Cathleen MacDonald, Motion Picture Enterprises 
Filmmaker, Cathleen MacDonald, creates media content for entertainment, education, and communications.

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Which Film-Fest Pass Is Best For You?

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

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So, Where Are the Movies?

This is a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately. And it makes us happy! It means that fans of the Willson Oakville Film Festival are chomping at the bit.

You’ll find a lot of great information here on our website, but one thing that you won’t find (at least, not yet!) is a list of films for our 2016 event. That’s because our submissions deadline is Friday, April 1st. Wendy Donnan, our programmer, has literally thousands of films to view, assess, and select before the finalists can be announced. Rest assured that she’s working hard on it this very minute.

It’s About More Than Showcasing Movies

Remember that the purpose of the Willson Oakville Film Festival – just like any independent film fest – isn’t simply to showcase interesting movies for our community; although that’s certainly part of our reason for being. Film fests like ours also provide an opportunity for independent and/or unknown filmmakers to get their movies in front of an actual audience and to have their work reviewed by professional critics. This often translates to additional advantages: valuable media attention, exposure to prospective agents and buyers, and don’t forget the prestigious Audience Choice Awards for the best film and best short film. Yes, the winners. In case you didn’t know, independent film festivals are also contests, and you, the viewer, get a vote! Fun, right?
With all that in mind, it’s super important that we compile a worthy roundup of engaging films and documentaries. We also aim to provide a variety of genres and themes, and try to represent filmmakers from around the globe. Choosing the big features for the gala presentations is especially exciting. So now you know why this process takes time and careful consideration… Sit tight!

Get First Dibs

Purchase one of our Festival Passes and you’ll be the first to be notified about our final list when it’s ready and you’ll get first dibs on the films you’d most like to see. On May 16th the remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public. We promise to keep you posted with all the key dates and details as we roll them out… but for best value and lots of perks get your passes starting April 1st!

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

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3 Ways Film Festivals Improve Your Life to the movies is a great experience but going to a film festival is even better. Here are 3 ways film festivals improve your life:

1) Community

Film festivals show us how big and amazing the world is while connecting us through watching together, stirring emotions, then sharing our emotions and thoughts afterward with the filmmakers and panellists. Being with like-minded people and meeting the filmmakers is an exhilarating experience that can give you a new perspective on the film.

2) Social Capital

We watch films, read books, and listen to music so we’ll get social capital. What’s social capital? It’s the inspiration, mind expansion, and topics for discussions with friends. But in this era of overwhelming cultural choices, it’s hard to know where to spend your time and money.  Why risk wasting time when a film festival can bring you carefully curated choices from programmers who sift through endless submissions to find the right mix. You can be confident that every choice will bring you some value. Even a film that might leave you scratching your head at first will improve your life when you can discuss it with the filmmakers and with the new friends you’re likely to make at a festival.

3) Great Value

Film festivals turn movie-going into a special event with receptions, parties, fun activities, and of course, filmmaker appearances and panels. With prices comparable to a regular movie, film festival screenings are a priceless value.

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Festival Passes go on Sale April 1st

On April 1st, the Willson Oakville Film Festival will offer its Red Carpet Pass (a must-have for the VIP cinephile) and its Film Lovers Pass (a great value with perks).

April 1st Update: Passes are now available on our Homepage.

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Willson Oakville Film Festival to Offer More Gala Screenings

Gala film screenings offer unique opportunities to see films in a large setting with the filmmakers in attendance and parties. The catch is that Galas often sell out quickly and the parties are normally exclusive. For the 2016 Willson Oakville Film Festival (June 24 – 26), you will get more opportunities to enjoy the full Gala experience – but only if you act quickly to get a Red Carpet Pass.

Sold Out Gala

Last year, the Opening Gala at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts was a sold out hit. The audience enjoyed an emotional ride with the North American premiere of “What We Did on Our Holiday” followed by a memorable conversation with Writer-Director, Guy Jenkin who had flown in from London, England to join them. This was followed by an after-party where guests mingled with filmmakers, VIPs, and other film lovers.

This Year Offers Two Galas

Based on last year’s success, the Willson Oakville Film Festival 2016 is holding two Galas. A limited number of Red Carpet Passes will grant all-access to both Galas, including the VIP After-Party, plus a choice of regular screenings, and oh yes – swag. We must have swag. Red Carpet Passes are slated to go on sale April 1st.

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Connecting Audiences with Filmmakers at the Willson Oakville Film Festival

You’re seated in the theatre as the end credits role. If this were an ordinary movie screening, it would be your cue to leave.

But you’re at the Willson Oakville Film Festival, so you watch the lights come up as an amiable host introduces the filmmakers. You see one or perhaps up to four or five people – usually the director, cast, producer, or other collaborators, troop to the front of the theatre where they converse with the audience. They answer questions, share their creative processes, and behind-the-scenes stories.

Suddenly you get intimate insights into the creative experience and you gain new understandings about the film.

Filmmaker Q & A

Filmmaker question and answer sessions – or Q & A for short – is what makes festivals so special. For filmmakers, speaking with an appreciative audience is one of the rewards in the long, hard journey of making a film. For audiences, speaking with filmmakers connects us to the people behind the films. At the Oakville Film Festival, we’re big enough to bring you interesting filmmakers and small enough to give you informal personal access. We look forward to bringing you exciting filmmaker conversations at our upcoming Festival, June 24 – 26, 2016.

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