Beach chairs, popcorn buckets and great cinema Gimli’s film festival returns with a wider audience and a slate of classic and cutting edge cinema

The projectors are rolling and the popcorn is popping for the first time since 2019 as the Gimli Film Festival — make that the Gimli International Film Festival, more on that later — welcomes film-goers back to the lakeside community’s theatres.

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The projectors are rolling and the popcorn is popping for the first time since 2019 as the Gimli Film Festival — make that the Gimli International Film Festival, more on that later — welcomes film-goers back to the lakeside community’s theatres.

Event preview

Gimli International Film Festival
Wednesday to Sunday at four theatres and sunset beach screenings in Gimli
For a full schedule and festival passes, visit gimlifilm.com

Seventy films will be screened in Gimli by the time the event winds up Sunday night.

Getting the festival band back together and attracting volunteers to help it run smoothly has been a challenge that executive director Alan Wong says they’ve managed to overcome.

“It is very challenging and it’s been very hectic this year, but I’ve been hearing that a lot from arts organizations and festivals,” says Wong, who took over the job at the beginning of 2022 after attending the festival as a fan and filmmaker. “The patrons are keen to come back, but the partners, the vendors, everybody you need to work with to make a festival go, everybody’s either been so busy this year or have been struggling with resources or struggling with staff, so operations aren’t as smooth as pre-pandemic times.”

The festival begins Wednesday night with a screening of Band, an Icelandic mockumentary released earlier this year that’s been described as a female performance-art version of This Is Spinal Tap.

 

It’s one of two films from Iceland that are part of the 2022 festival, with the other being Quake (Skjálfti), a 2021 drama focusing on a young mother’s epilepsy diagnosis and her lost memories, which will be shown Thursday night at 9:45 p.m. at the Gimli Lutheran Church Theatre.

 

It also signals the return to the festival’s sandy foundation, its nightly beach screenings, which take place at Gimli beach and emanate from an 11-metre screen set up in Lake Winnipeg and directed at viewers perched on lawn chairs or relaxing on beach blankets.

“There is a lot of preparation that goes into it. We have a team of really dedicated volunteers who set up the scaffolding (that holds up the screen),” Wong says, adding rain in Gimli on Monday lengthened the setup process. “It’s always a challenge logistically. We have to have the permits for it. We have to have the manpower to set it up in the water.”

Four films worth watching

• Cliff: A Portrait of an Artist (Thursday, 7 p.m. Lady of the Lake Theatre): A documentary profile of Cliff Eyland, the Winnipeg artist who got five extra years to live after receiving a double lung transplant. He died in May 2020, and Adam Brooks’s film serves as a tribute and a retrospective of his works, which often focused on libraries.

• Cliff: A Portrait of an Artist (Thursday, 7 p.m. Lady of the Lake Theatre): A documentary profile of Cliff Eyland, the Winnipeg artist who got five extra years to live after receiving a double lung transplant. He died in May 2020, and Adam Brooks’s film serves as a tribute and a retrospective of his works, which often focused on libraries.

https://youtu.be/nTd5Jx4bqIU:wfpyoutube

• Geographies of Solitude (Friday at 12:30 p.m., Gimli Theatre): “It’s a documentary about an artist who lives on (Sable Island) off the east coast of Canada that is like a bubble of nature. It teems with wildlife and she’s been there for 10 years documenting this island,” executive director Alan Wong says.

https://youtu.be/KgKdTQJLgwM:wfpyoutube

 

• Worst Person in the World (Saturday at 7:45 p.m., Gimli Theatre): This Norwegian drama directed by Joachim Trier earned two Oscar nominations and its star, Renate Reinsve, earned the best actress award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

wfpyoutube:https://youtu.be/55M5ZgAqbWo

 

• Fire of Love (Sunday, 4:15 p.m., Gimli Theatre): A 2022 documentary about Katia and Maurice Kraft, French volcanologists who chased eruptions around the world until their deaths at a Japan volcano in 1991.

wfpyoutube:https://youtu.be/oMArx64RBO4

The shows start at 10 p.m., and Wong says Wednesday night’s opening film, Cast Away, is an ideal relaunch of the popular series, and not just because Gimli beach has seen its share of Wilson volleyballs over the years.

“Cast Away, to me, was one of my first choices,” Wong says. “Not just because it’s a classic — and who doesn’t love Tom Hanks? — but it also deals with some of these themes of isolation and survival we’re all too familiar with the last couple of years.”

This week’s other beachside screenings are: Lilo & Stitch (Thursday night); Mamma Mia! (Friday); Life of Pi (Saturday) and 9 to 5 (Sunday).

The 1980 comedy starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman might not be classic beach viewing, but it does provide the background for another GIFF film, Still Working 9 to 5, a 2022 documentary that reveals the workplace inequality that was the comedy’s theme remains a fact of life for women 42 years later.

“It goes back and interviews all those stars and filmmakers and it talks about (9 to 5) and its effect on society and the condition of women’s working rights nowadays,” Wong says of the new documentary, which screens Thursday at 4:15 p.m. at Gimli Theatre.

 

The festival introduced virtual screenings for the 2020 and 2021 editions after the COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions prevented audiences from attending movie screenings in theatres.

In so doing, it attracted viewers from afar to check out what the festival offered, and gave reason for organizers to add International to the festival’s name.

JAKE NETTER / 20TH CENTURY FOXLife of Pi screens Saturday as part of the beach screenings, which are back along with the festival itself, newly retitled the Gimli International Film Festival, so named because online versions in 2020 and 2021 were so popular around the world.

The virtual screenings remain in 2022, with 20 of the festival’s offerings available for viewing until Aug. 7 with the purchase of a $50 GIFF online pass.

Individual tickets, which cost $15 or festival passes, which sell for $150, are available at gimlifilm.com and the GIFF box office at Gimli’s Lakeview Resort at 73 1st Ave. Day passes ($30) are also on sale, though Friday and Saturday passes are sold out.

alan.small@winnipegfreepress.com

Twitter: @AlanDSmall

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SUPPLIED Sunday’s closing-night beach screening of 1980’s 9 to 5 (starring, clockwise from top left, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman) comes on the heels of Thursday afternoon’s Still Working 9 to 5, a new doc about conditions that are still plaguing workplaces.
LILJA JONSDOTTIR One of two Icelandic films, Quake, starring Anita Briem, is Gimli International Film Festival’s Thursday-night feature.
Supplied Worst Person in the World, starring Anders Danielsen Lie (left) and Renata Reinsve, screens Saturday, one of 20 of the festival’s offerings that will stream online until Aug. 7 with the purchase of a $50 GIFF online pass.
Peter Mountain / Canwest News Service Mamma Mia!, starring Christine Baranski (from left) Meryl Streep and Julie Walters, is the Friday-night beach-screening feature.
Alan Small

Alan Small
Reporter

Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.

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