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2014-03-30 at 20:11

Local productions

By Matt Vis, tbnewswatch.com
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Opportunities for local filmmakers to show their work on the big screen at home are fairly rare.

That makes the chances they do have, such as the North of Superior Film Association's annual Northwest Film Fest, extra special.

Prior to select screenings, the festival displayed short films written, produced and directed by area talent.

“Seeing your work in front of a local audience is always a treat and feeding off their reaction is why you make the film, for an audience,” filmmaker Ryan La Via said on Sunday at the Silver City cinemas.

“Being from Thunder Bay it’s always nicest to sit and watch something you’ve made with the people you’ve grown up with and know.”

Two of the shorts, one of them directed by La Via, were shown prior to the final couple of feature length films of the evening.

That production, Sticky Money, chronicles one $20 bill spent and recycled throughout one distinct neighbourhood.

With it being written by Richard Hiner and featuring Jari Sarka and Heather Esdon, who have all since passed, it was surreal to see on the screen.

It carries a simple concept that is easily relatable.

“It’s recycling of the same money and the theme of it is that money spent locally stays locally,” he said.

Another short that La Via was associated with, Red Light, was shown last Sunday. That one, which he wrote, was in competition at the London Screenwriters’ Festival earlier this year.

He has received a substantial amount of positive feedback from community members.

The shorts even play a role in increasing the overall attendance.

“From what I’ve been told people have enjoyed them tremendously,” La Via said.

“Some people are coming to these features just for the shorts and staying for the features. They’re catching the attention of local filmmakers.”

Despite still having to analyze the numbers, North of Superior Film Association president Marty Mascarin believes the 21st annual showcase was a success.

“In terms of being available anecdotally the response from patrons has been positive,” he said.

While organizers may speculate, Mascarin said it is impossible to know exactly how a film will be received by audiences until it hits the screen.

He identified the Danish romantic comedy Love Is All You Need starring Pierce Brosnan as one in particular that attracted more moviegoers than anticipated.

He added that Thursday evening’s screening of the Saudi Arabian film Wadjda was acclaimed by the majority of the audience.

The final day of the festival was busy right from the start of the morning with a nearly full theatre for the 9:45 a.m. showing of Alan Partridge, an English comedy.

The strong attendance continued through to the late afternoon.

“On this final Sunday we’ve had very full audiences for an English drama called The Selfish Giant and a Beatles documentary Good Ol’ Freda and it was a packed house for that one,” Mascarin said.

This year’s festival had a wider array of comedies than most years and Mascarin said most screenings of lighter fare have been well attended members of the film association as well as the general public.

“We were able to generally start the mornings light and end the day light,” he said.

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