As Canadian Film Fest opens, money remains biggest obstacle

Mar 24, 2015 | Arts

NOCTURNE director Saul Pincus (right) discusses a scene with actors Mary Krohnert ("Cindy",middle) and Knickoy Robinson ("Armen", left). (Photo Credit: James Belardo)

NOCTURNE director Saul Pincus (right) discusses a scene with actors Mary Krohnert (“Cindy”,middle) and Knickoy Robinson (“Armen”, left). (Photo Credit: James Belardo)

By Celia Grimbly

The 9th Canadian Film Fest begins Wednesday in Toronto, screening 16 short films and 8 feature films by independent Canadian filmmakers.

And while technology is improving the quality of the films, money remains the biggest obstacle, the festival’s founder and executive director Bern Euler said.

Finding Funding

“Technology has made certain aspects very easy, at least a thousand times easier than it was before digital films, but it’s still hard [to make a movie],” said Euler. “There are still huge funding challenges for any film maker and we have so many amazing film makers vying for a limited number of grants or funding sources that it is very difficult. That’s an accomplishment unto itself.”

Saul Pincus is the director of Nocturne, a feature film being screened at the Canadian Film Fest.

Pincus told Humber News half of the funding for Nocturne came from a second mortgage on his house.

“The rest of [the funding] was we, sort of, saved up some money and were able to do it,” said Pincus. “We’re dealing very much with a kind of home grown thing and it’s very much a case of having to get money for your own filming.”

However, Pincus told Humber News he is happy with the funding decision.

“It’s great to see the follow through of something I’ve wanted to do in my life,” he said. “I had to figure stuff out and be a real self starter and I have been going on a really long time and I think that’s helped me.”

Increasing Entries

More films are being made despite minimal funding because of the ease of technology, Pincus said.

“We have been told by most major film festivals we have applied to, and even the smallest ones, that [the festivals] have gotten figures from 40-60 per cent more entries this year,” he said. “Much of that is due to the democratization of…the ability to get access to very high quality equipment and put an image on the screen.”

Euler is the head programmer, responsible for selecting all of the films in the festival.

He watched about 250 submissions along with scouting and recommendations in the process.

This year, the festival is four days, a day longer than past years because Euler added more movies to the schedule.

Festival Highlights

The film festival offers networking opportunities for filmmakers; a chance to show their film with the chance of finding distribution.

The festival has 20 local sponsors this year offering a lot of support for the industry, said Euler.

“Most of [the sponsors] come and contact us because they see the talent and they see the potential that the festival has as well,” he said. “Its a hard thing to find a Canadian movie on a Canadian screen and all these sponsors that get on board with us they make that happen.”

Filmmakers have a chance to win $10,000 for best script and are able to attend three different panel discussions on writing, distribution and acting, Euler told Humber News.

Euler has such enthusiasm for Canadian films and seems like “a wonderful fellow; a nice and generous person”, said Pincus, adding one of the other most appealing features of the festival is the venue, The Royal Theatre on College Street in Little Italy, said Pincus.

“It is maybe the nicest place, if not one of the two nicest places in Toronto to run a movie,” he said. “We are lucky beneficiaries of being able to go to this theatre and watch a beautiful sounding and looking version of our films.”

The Royal Theatre has 400 seats and the opening night movie sold out in a couple of days, said Euler.

“When a film is designed to be seen on a bigger screen, it’s esthetically very important for a film to be seen that way to get a lot of its feeling across,” said Pincus. “When that opportunity occurs it’s wonderful for the filmmaker because you get to see the audience respond to it either positively or negatively.”

The festival program includes a wide range of films.

“We do a little bit of everything because our filmmakers are doing every kind of movie and they’re doing them very, very well so we were able to showcase a range of styles and genres that our filmmakers are attempting,” Euler said.

The festival runs until Saturday.