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Jeremy Munce and Oliver Ward are both independent filmmakers and documentarians who got their start at independent film festivals. Those festivals were fundamental in developing their careers and giving them much-needed exposure.
They want to provide the same opportunity for filmmakers in Muskoka, so they are launching a new film festival this September: CineMuskoka.
“We both live and work in Huntsville and we thought it would be a great thing to start for two reasons,” says Ward. “Muskoka is a great location and there currently isn’t a festival in Huntsville so we wanted to bring something like that back; we also wanted to put it the week before TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) because getting into a big festival like TIFF, you really have to be a top tier film with a lot of money and marketing or have a big star in the film. For independents in Canada we thought it would be cool to have a venue for people who are just starting out their careers to come and screen films in Muskoka, have their work looked at and then the next week go down to TIFF. It’s almost like using our festival to identify the filmmakers of tomorrow.”
Films will screen at the Algonquin Theatre, outdoors at River Mill Park, and in a third, still-to-be-determined location.
Independent filmmakers can submit films in one of five categories: narrative feature length (longer than 45 minutes, any genre), narrative short film (shorter than 45 minutes, any genre), documentary feature (longer than 45 minutes), documentary short (shorter than 45 minutes) and music videos that tell a story.
We are very interested in local filmmakers. We want to cultivate an educational/promotional platform for Muskoka filmmakers to showcase their films as well as be a place for students or people who are into filmmaking but don’t know where to start… We’ll pay special attention to any local filmmakers who want to have their work screened.
To help launch the festival, they are looking for three main things: sponsors, volunteers and general feedback.
Sponsorship could be donations in kind, product or financial backing for the festival. “It’s pretty wide open – we recognize it’s a first year festival and it’s going to be pretty grassroots this year but we’re looking for support of any kind.”
Volunteers will be needed to help on the weekend of the festival, working in the theatre, driving filmmakers to and from locations, and helping to organize other events on the weekend.
And they need people who like film and have ideas or suggestions to speak up, particularly about the types of films they’d like to see and the events they’d like to see around the festival.
“We identify music as a pretty big part of film, so we would like to host a music event or two,” said Ward. “And because we are both filmmakers and one of the benefits of a film festival is interacting with your audience, we’ll be hosting talkbacks with filmmakers after every screening. We have some fun ideas for how to do that, one of them being a Q&Ale which is a sponsored event by a brewery or pub. We would film it for the filmmakers so they have an interview to help promote their film and it gives people a chance to ask questions about how they made the film, how they funded the film.”
“Tthis is our first year and we are really excited to have our inaugural year and see where things go,” said Ward. “We have a long-term vision of growing a strong festival that brings in an international community but also celebrates local filmmakers in the town.”
Oliver and Jeremy will be holdng an informal information session about the festival upstairs at The Mill on Main on Thursday, April 27 starting at 8 p.m. Join them for a brief presentation of their vision and goals for the festival, share your feedback, and decide if and how you’d like to help.
If you can’t make it to the meeting but would like to know more, visit the CineMuskoka website here.
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