Oil on a beach is a ecological tragedy.
But Grease on a beach? That's a good time.
That, at least, is the working assumption of the folks at the Gimli Film Festival as they prepare for the annual bash that features movies, parties, seminars and their trademark beach screenings.
The fest's programmer, Joy Loewen, said her first time programming the event last year was a valuable experience in pinpointing who the audience for the festival actually is.
"Last year, I didn't know who the faces in the crowd would be and it's hard programming in the dark like that," she says.
"So the biggest thing was I got a sense of the audience and seeing the different kinds of people and how they respond to the different types of film."
The bulk of the GFF audience, she says, is over the age of 30 and she has programmed accordingly, "while having some fun and testing out some films that we think might have appeal to attract a bit of a younger audience."
Hence, Loewen anticipates a large cross-generational audience for the sing-along beach screening of the bubble-gum musical Grease on Saturday night. She also believes a more mature slate of films will give audiences something more substantial to chew over, whether they are documentaries on the sex trade (Buying Sex) or comedies about late-blooming sexual awakening (My Awkward Sexual Adventure).
"Films have the power to entertain and educate, and my wish would be that there's an exchange of dialogue that helps people understand some of what's going on in our world, as well as igniting some passion, and having fun."
On the fun side of the equation, GFF's celebrated beach screenings take place at 10 p.m. nightly on the beach at the end of Barney Thomas Drive, assuming high winds don't threaten to blow the movie screen into Lake Winnipeg.
"I'm praying to the weather gods that we'll be able to screen all the beach films in their entirety this year," says Loewen. "Each one of those films I think offer, individually and collectively, something that delivers on our wish at the festival to provide a unique screening experience."
On the program:
Still Mine (Wednesday)
James Cromwell stars as a crusty Maritimer intent on building a new house for his ailing wife (Geneviève Bujold) and he takes on a petty bureaucracy to do it.
Muscle Shoals (Thursday)
A documentary on the legendary Alabama recording studio with testimony from the likes of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Bono.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Friday)
In 1978, Steven Spielberg followed up the smash hit Jaws with this sci-fi entry about humans invited to attend an encounter with aliens. Starring Richard Dreyfuss.
The most successful movie musical of all time, Grease (1978) starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as teens negotiating their way through love in the fabulous '50s. This screening is the sing-along version, which promises to turn into a mass karaoke event.
The Deep (Sunday)
After last year's hit screening of Jaws, GFF offers up another Peter Benchley-based thriller starring Nick Nolte and Jacqueline Bisset as a pair of vacationers who discover an unlikely treasure in the wreck of an American military freighter.
Watch for daily coverage of the Gimli Film Festival in the Free Press.