Oct. 22

The Delhi News-Record - - OPINION - MICHELLE RUBY mruby@postmedia.co

Get a glimpse of ru­ral life around the world at the first Routes to Roots Film Fes­ti­val in Sim­coe.

A se­lec­tion of fea­ture films and shorts, a show­case of lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional film with an em­pha­sis on themes of re­turn­ing to roots, ru­ral life and con­nect­ed­ness, are on the bill at the fes­ti­val, set for Oct. 21 and 22.

“It’s a wonderful op­por­tu­nity to bring peo­ple to­gether,” said Michael Ch­was­tiak, co- cu­ra­tor of the fes­ti­val. “We want to give peo­ple some­thing they don’t get to ex­pe­ri­ence any­where else.”

The seeds for the ru­ral fes­ti­val were sown sev­eral years ago when Sim­coe lawyer Mike McArthur, who was re­cently ap­pointed an On­tario judge, had a con­ver­sa­tion with Kent and Cindy Rap­ley, own­ers of The Strand The­atre, a 208seat venue on Robin­son Street.

A fes­ti­val com­mit­tee came to­gether about two years ago. They are a group with wide-rang­ing back­grounds in act­ing and pro­duc­ing, tourism, so­cial me­dia, law and busi­ness.

After a com­mit­tee de­ci­sion to not, at least for the first year, call for film sub­mis­sions but to seek out those that fit the fes­ti­val theme, Ch­was­tiak and Elana Post, both lo­cal ac­tors and pro­duc­ers, were tasked re­search and se­lec­tion.

“There are about 10,000 films a year re­leased in every genre,” said Ch­was­tiak. “Hav­ing to choose was tough.”

“So many peo­ple are mak­ing their own films, even on iPhones,” agreed Jim Car­roll, chair­man of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee.

Ch­was­tiak said that, with a fo­cus on new film­mak­ers, he and Post set out to find films that hadn’t been in or weren’t planned for wide distri­bu­tion. He said he re­searched on­line and took a look at the up- and- com­ers in Film­maker Mag­a­zine and other sources.

Ch­was­tiak said watch­ing trail­ers for the films was an ef­fec­tive way to de­ter­mine whether they suited the Routes to Roots theme.

The re­sult is a col­lec­tion of films that vary widely in genre, con­tent, and pro­duc­tion styles.

“There is such a va­ri­ety of films from all over the world. One of the shorts we are show­ing was shot with a sin­gle, low-res cam­era in an apart­ment with the film­maker’s grandma,” said Ch­was­tiak.

“An­other short, Lost Vil­lage, has some wonderful cin­e­matog­ra­phy shot in Europe.”

The fes­ti­val will open on Fri­day, Oct. 21, with a show­ing of In Her Place, a Cana­dian and South Korean film di­rected by Al­bert Shin.

That will be fol­lowed by the fea­ture Diani and Devine Meet the Apoc­a­lypse. There are plans to bring the direc­tors Etta Devine and Gabriel Diani from Cal­i­for­nia to Sim­coe for the screen­ing.

“We’d like to get as many pro­duc­ers and film­mak­ers here as pos­si­ble to talk about their films,” said Car­roll. “It makes it a richer ex­pe­ri­ence for the au­di­ence.”

The mati­nee fea­ture on Satur­day, Oct. 22, is I Dream in An­other Lan­guage from Mex­i­can film­maker Ernesto Con­tr­eras.

The fes­ti­val will close on Satur­day evening with the Ethiopian film, Lamb.

There are also plans to show a block of short films, many of them with Cana­dian direc­tors. A col­lec­tion of shorts geared to chil­dren will be screened for free on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

There is an ef­fort un­der­way to get lo­cal eater­ies and winer­ies in­volved in the event, with wine and cheese served in the the­atre for some of the films, and for af­ter­par­ties.

Fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers also want to show­case the beauty and diver­sity of Nor­folk to film­mak­ers so they will con­sider the area for fu­ture projects.

“We have a re­ally wide range of looks,” said Ch­was­tiak. “There are beaches, cityscapes, in­dus­trial ar­eas, farms.”

Car­roll said the film fes­ti­vals give mak­ers a venue to see their work on the big screen and for au­di­ences to share in that. “The beauty of a movie is you can have an ex­pe­ri­ence in a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time,” said Car­roll. “It’s a com­mu­nal ex­pe­ri­ence. You can go out with friends and talk about it. It’s not the same as be­ing at home and watch­ing Net­flix.”

The fes­ti­val is in need of about 25 vol­un­teers to act as greeters, ush­ers, and to sell fes­ti­val merchandise. Con­tact Jim Car­roll at jimc@kwic.com or call 519-4276333.

Tick­ets for Routes to Roots are now for sale. A two-day pass is $50, in­clud­ing tax. In­di­vid­ual ad­mis­sion for each of the four fea­ture films and the shorts pre­sen­ta­tion is $12 per per­son, in­clud­ing tax. More in­for­ma­tion is at www.2rff.com (Mex­ico) – Di­rected by Esto Con­tr­eras, the film tells the story of an in­dige­nous lan­guage in peril. Its last two speak­ers had a quar­rel in the past and haven’t spo­ken to each other in more than 50 years. Martin, a young lin­guist, tries to con­vince the old friends to once again talk.

(Ethiopia) – Di­rected by Yared Zeleke, the story fol­lows an Ethiopian boy as he moves in with dis­tant rel­a­tives. He brings along his pet sheep but the up­com­ing hol­i­days spell dan­ger for his beloved friend.

Short films by Cana­dian direc­tors, in­clud­ing And Him (Colin Waugh), The Doll­house (Chad Gal­loway/ Heather Ben­ning), Stolen ( Kawen­na­here Dev­ery Jacobs), The Work­shop (Jesse Senko), Nog­gers (Nick Gen­ova/ Ai­dan John­ston).

In­ter­na­tional short films, in­clud­ing August (United States), Burn­ing Sun (Nor­way), The Cow In­ci­dent (UK), Fur­rows (Italy), Horse­face (Spain), Lost Vil­lage (Spain), Og­sawara (Ge­or­gia), and Rooftop Gar­den­ing Tips (United States).

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