Halifax indie film fest draws big crowds to in-person screenings

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Evan Bower is the programming co-ordinator for The Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival. He says there have been big audiences this year. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)
Evan Bower is the programming co-ordinator for The Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival. He says there have been big audiences this year. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC - image credit)

The Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival is back this week for its 16th year with in-person screenings for the first time since the pandemic began.

Evan Bower, programming co-ordinator for the festival, said there have been big audiences.

"These are really the kind of films you want to see with a crowd," he said. "You know, they're very deliberately paced, sometimes challenging. So it's just been wonderful to be back in the dark room, fully focused on the films and enjoying them with a group of people."

The festival that concludes Sunday is screening a number of international films. But Saturday night will feature nine short works from regional creators at their Atlantic Auteurs event.

"It's really the foundation of the festival. It started out just as a local short screening series, and still, this is what draws the biggest crowd," said Bower.

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Jenny Yujia Shi's short animated film This Does Not Authorize Re-entry is being screened Saturday.

The film follows three travellers on a surreal journey. Shi used cut paper and drawings to create the stop-motion picture.

It's based on her experience of moving from Beijing to Halifax in 2009. She went through a series of visas before gaining her permanent residency after a number of years.

Victoria Welland/CBC
Victoria Welland/CBC

"This film kind of has been a very good opportunity to reflect on this experience and, I think, to conclude that emotionally and be ready to kind of embrace a new or broader subject matter," Shi said.

Tonight will be the first time Shi sees her film on the big screen. As a new filmmaker, she's looking forward to meeting others in the industry at tonight's event.

"The filmmaking community is comprised of folks there that may come from different walks of life, working in different mediums," she said. "But we are, in this part of our practice, sharing filmmaking as a common ground. And just to be able to connect in this way I think will be a very special experience for me."

'Experimental work'

Bower said the festival allows local filmmakers the space to be creative and explore unconventional ideas.

"Filmmakers are emboldened to make more experimental work and take more chances with the films they're making," Bower said.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

After the Atlantic Auteurs screening event, there will be an after-party open to the public. "I think this is when it's really going to hit home like, we're back in person and we're doing this."

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