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FIN Atlantic International Film Festival wrapped for 2018

Attending a film festival has an integral social impact  and offers the opportunity to experience more than just sitting in a theatre and watching a presentation, which is what the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival offers its patrons.

Having just wrapped up its 38th year, the film festival has been well established as a premier event in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They do more than highlight the best in film, by presenting unique ways for people to enjoy the screen presentations and exciting special events.

You may be surprised to learn that ‘FIN’ is not an acronym.

Wayne Carter, Executive Director of the festival, explains, “Although ‘FIN’ does not represent three words, ‘FIN’ itself has meaning. Halifax is on the Atlantic Ocean, which is full of fins and it is the word that appears at the end of French films.”

FIN is also a stroke of branding genius, since it comes up at the top of search engine results.

 

 

For the second year in a row, FIN partnered with Autism Nova Scotia to offer relaxed screenings and the films presented at these specialized venues were, ‘designed to be attended by anyone on the spectrum.”

Autism Nova Scotia provided free tickets which encouraged people with varying abilities to see films in more comforting environments, as the theatres offered soft lighting, subdued sound and a safe and calming atmosphere.

People seem to want more from theatres, which has led to the emergence of 4DX films that incorporate effects such as motion, rain, wind and even scents into a movie. Carter suggests that this type of film will appeal, ‘to a certain type of audience looking for a specific experience.”

He continues, “Virtual reality could also be an interesting sensory adventure.”  However, it is unlikely that the majority of those going to the theatre would want to be tossed around in their seats and sprinkled with water among other things for a full 90 minutes, making the probability of complete immersive films becoming mainstream nn unlikely expenditure for most film makers.

An exciting feature for film lovers to look forward to is the prospect of a digital pass. Carter explains that, “We are going to adopt a digital aspect to the festival as a way for us to bring FIN to people who cannot attend in person.” As the planning for next year’s festival has already begun, you can be sure adding digital attendance will be on the agenda.

One other way FIN is garnering attention is that women are getting the opportunity to demonstrate their talented filmmaking skills. At this year’s awards ceremony, women were the predominate recipients.

Deanne Foley won The Gordon Parsons Award for Best Atlantic Feature for ‘An Audience of Chairs’, Shelly Thompson won the Best Atlantic Short award for ‘Duck Duck Goose’ and Reneé Blanchar won the Best Atlantic Documentary award for ‘Dans L’Ouest’ (Shadow Men).

Within the film culture, women are definitely forging their own path and being recognized for their efforts.

“I am proud that 59% of our gala performances were directed by women. They are showing their strength and women will continue to be elevated in this profession”.  Carter said during an interview.

There were 194 films on the roster at this year’s FIN and they strive to include a mixture of all genres in order to guarantee there is something for everyone. As quoted on their home page, FIN is “Atlantic Canada’s curator of epic and unforgettable stories” and they have certainly demonstrated their commitment as this year’s Atlantic International Film Festival was a resounding success.

The Kinkiest Boots around

“And remember. You are not making footwear. You are not making boots. You are making two and a half feet of irresistible, tubular sex!”

Shoes. I love them. It doesn’t matter how much weight you gain or what mood you are in, shoes will always fit and will ALWAYS look good. A pair of red heels will make your legs look awesome and your bottom…well, I’ll leave the words to describe your own derrière up to you. So, imagine my excitement when my sister approached my family over the holidays with tickets to Kinky Boots, a Tony Award-winning broadway musical entirely about heeled shoes? I was over the moon!

The Toronto Mirvish production of Kinky Boots opened in June 2015, and since then it has been extended three times. The show is inspired by true events and tells the story of a shoemaker’s son, Charlie, who takes over the business and decides to tap into a niche market — making sturdy stilettos for crossdressers. An incredible partnership between Grammy/Tony award-winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper and broadway legend Harvey Fierstein ensured the music was sublime and the characters were loveable.

As we settled into our cramped seats — the Royal Alexander Theatre really packs a crowd and doesn’t provide a lot of leg room — I was a bit worried. Our show featured a lot of understudies and the singing during the opening segment was a bit rough and pitchy. I remember thinking that I had hyped up this production so much that it was going to be a disappointment in the end.

Enter Lola (a.k.a. Simon), played by the absolutely incredible Alan Mingo Jr., a show-stopping drag artist that captivated the audience with her confidence and comedy. Seriously, Mingo Jr. could teach me a few things about high kicks and dancing in 8-inch stilettos. Not only does Mingo Jr. have the moves, but he also has the pipes to play this layered character. With energetic toe-tappers like “Sex is in the Heel” to emotionally-draining ballads like “Not My Father’s Son,” his portrayal of Lola was flawless. Any pitch problems from the rest of the cast was made up by his incredible performance.

It was the women who really made Kinky Boots shine. Lola and her band of Angels had the audience hooting and whistling the whole show with their outrageous outfits and ridiculous dance moves, while Lauren (who is Charlie’s love interest and unexpected business partner) left us in awe with her hilarious numbers. What’s even better is that behind all of the hilarity and production, there were some fantastic voices with unbelievable ranges.

Underneath the fancy shoes and the sparkling outfits, Kinky Boots makes us rethink what the word “acceptance” really means. The show reflects the complex nature of gender and the stigma associated not only with drag, but with what it means to be a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’.  It’s about coming into your own and learning to accept the people around us for who they truly are — a lesson that seems even more important to reiterate in the 21st century. Or as Lola liked to say at the beginning of one of her shows, “Welcome ladies, gentlemen and those who are yet to make up your mind.”

I would highly suggest seeing this musical production before it leaves Toronto in March, but who knows? I’m hoping for a fourth extension!