Red carpet rolls out across KW region at Grand River Film Festival

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Photo by Theresa Shim
Photo by Theresa Shim

The smell of popcorn and the murmur of filmmakers and lovers talking shop provided the backdrop for the 10th Grand River Film Festival Oct. 24–29.

Held annually, the festival brings local, Canadian, and international talent together to not only watch new, inspiring films, but also to grow the KW film community and share the art of the movie. The venues spanned the KW region from Dunfield Theatre in Cambridge to Wilfrid Laurier University.

Each movie, from Unless, starring Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener, to groundbreaking documentaries like Angry Inuk, featured panels and Q&As from the cast and crew. Local filmmakers and students could also take advantage of industry sessions, programming, and competitions.

Derek Lackenbauer, Angela Duscio, and Zach Parsons, stars of Bickerman’s Grove.  Photo by Steph Kent
Derek Lackenbauer, Angela Duscio, and Zach Parsons, stars of Bickerman’s Grove.
Photo by Steph Kent

One local film, Bickerman’s Grove, premiered at the Apollo Cinema during the festival. “Originally, it was going to be an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, a Christmas adaptation,” said director and writer Adrian Konstant. It eventually morphed into something much stranger — and funnier. “At some point, Romeo and Juliet became cousins, and that made it interesting!” The clever and slapstick comedy still has touches of Shakespearean drama, from crazy greedy families to a mass (but hilarious) culling off of characters.

At one point, the two main characters, played by Derek Lackenbauer and Anthony Tullo respectively had a fight using cutting boards, hedge clippers, and a soup pot. Both actors embraced the silly, because, as Lackenbauer said, “the whole movie is silly.”

Tullo combined his experience playing serious villains with a comedic touch to his role. While working with Konstant on a previous film, Tullo “played a real disgusting, decrepit character — I loved that character, he was so fun … to play a comedic, over-the-top character is new.”

During the festival, KW filmmakers could also take on the One Hour Film Challenge. Nine crews entered films for the Saturday morning premier, all of which had to be shot in one hour or less. The teams had fun making the few-minute-long films, and it shows through their work.

Danny Dorion of Steamworld Entertainment Films enjoyed the challenge such a tight schedule presented. “As a filmmaker, it really forces you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “How do I tell the story I want to tell in one hour? … It pushes you creatively.”

Duncan Finnigan of the production company 12 Angry Filmmakers, the challenge’s organizer, said it was an opportunity to bring the growing KW film community together, “building a stronger community of filmmakers in KW [and] hang out with my friends.”

Though the Grand River Film Festival won’t happen again for another year, another One Hour Film Challenge is in the works for three months from now. The organizers plan on making the event more open to new or beginning filmmakers, along with more established production companies in the area.

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