Toronto isn’t the only place for film buffs to get together and enthusiastically talk about thought-provoking plotlines.
The Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) held its inaugural in 2007, stemming from the growing film community in the Waterloo Region. For the eight consecutive year, GRFF will be showing seven Canadian and international films in a week-long event beginning Nov. 3 at the Landmark Cinemas in Kitchener.
Besides introducing the Waterloo community to lesser-known films, GRFF also celebrates Canadian filmmaking through a short film competition. GRFF showcases local talent by holding a Waterloo Region category to compete alongside filmmakers from other parts of Canada. Nine films were chosen from over 80 submissions as the 2014 short film finalists. The screenings and award presentation will be held Nov. 8 at the Princess Twin Cinemas in uptown Waterloo.
The festival opens with Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a US documentary on the late Tony and Emmy Award-winner, Elaine Stritch. Stritch reflects on her long performing career and life struggles with aging, diabetes, and alcoholism in a sassy manner. Friends and former co-stars, including Alec Baldwin and Tiny Fey from 30 Rock, chime in to make comical guest appearances.
One of the most buzz-worthy films of the festival is the Spanish dramatic comedy, Living is Easy with Eyes Closed. The Best Film winner at Spain’s equivalent of the Academy Awards is the country’s official selection for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2015 Oscars. It follows a die-hard Beatles fan in the ‘60s who takes a YOLO road trip towards the southern Spanish coast of the Mediterranean — all in hopes to meet John Lennon. Along the way, he encounters two hitchhikers and invites them for the ride.
Toronto-based director Daniel Perlmutter will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A for Big News from Grand Rock. Perlmutter tells the comedic story of a small town newspaper editor pulling out all the stops to prevent bankruptcy. He puts his reputation at risk by spicing up the paper with false reports inspired by movies. It’s smooth sailing until he’s exposed by a big city reporter and also discovers one of his false stories might actually be true.
Romantic comedy Relative Happiness, based off a Lesley Crewe novel of the same name, showcases the struggles of love for a 30-year-old, plus-sized, small town woman.
Newfoundland director Deanne Foley, actor Johnathan Sousa, and author Lesley Crewe will all be present for a post-screening Q&A on Nov. 7.
Other documentaries that will screen at GRFF include award-winning Canadian filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon and Rise of the Eco Warriors from Australia.
The GRFF Closing Gala film Sepideh was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It is a coming-of-age documentary about a young Iranian woman fighting against her family’s wishes to shut down her dream of becoming an astronaut.
For more about this year’s festival, volunteer, and ticket information, visit grff.ca.