The Gimli Film Festival will still be primarily an online festival, even as the threat of COVID starts to recede in the province.
But the good news is that the annual fest, commencing July 12, is expanded from five days to two weeks. And it will still be possible to attend in-person screenings. Specifically, the festival will be holding a drive-in theatre in Pavilion Park (where the Icelandic Fest annually sets up its carnival) at a cost of $15 per vehicle. Audio will be broadcast via FM radio signal. The drive-in operates in its final week from July 21-25 as a substitute for the much-loved free beach screenings that were the most visible feature of the 21-year-old film fête.
The drive-in fare only occasionally matches the drive-in movie ethos established in past festivals, which generally featured more recognizable action-comedy fare. This year, the most popular of the drive-in movies, which screen nightly at 10 p.m., will be The Empire Strikes Back, which plays on the festival’s final night of July 25.
But the drive-in mojo is still strong in the program, which kicks off Wednesday, July 25 with Indian Road Trip, a sexy comedy with an Indigenous cast about a couple of con artists transporting an elder to see her estranged sister, only to encounter supernatural forces along the way. A visit to a nude beach features prominently in the movie’s trailer.
Thursday’s movie on July 22 sees another road comedy, Golden Arm, in which a lady trucker convinces her reluctant best friend to participate in the national ladies’ arm wrestling championship.
Summertime (Friday, July 23) directed by Carlos López Estrada (Raya and the Last Dragon) is a freewheeling tour of Los Angeles through the eyes of 25 young Angelenos.
Some Kind of Heaven, screening Saturday, July 24 is about The Villages, a famed Florida retirement community where life in the the self-described "Disneyworld for Retirees" is an unsatisfying illusion for a few of its residents. (This doc was produced by Darren Aronofsky.)
The series is at its most drive-in-friendly with a Saturday midnight screening of Psycho Goreman. Directed by former Winnipegger Steven Kostanski, it’s about a pair of siblings who unwittingly resurrect the titular ancient alien overlord. Think: The Goonies meet Predator.
Belatedly celebrating Manitoba’s sesquicentennial, the festival’s online films feature a number of forgotten Manitoba films, including Winston Washington Moxam’s Barbara James, Noam Gonick’s Hey Happy!, Jeff Erbach’s delirious coming-of-age movie The Nature of Nicholas, and Gail Singer’s True Confections, an adaptation of a novel by Winnipeg writer Sondra Gotlieb.
One of the festival’s most anticipated films must be a documentary by director Kevin Nikkel exploring Manitoba’s long and storied film history, titled What We’ve Pulled Off… So Far.
Tickets for GFF On Demand are on sale at gimlifilm.com. A superpass will cost $80 (which includes a VIP Opening Reception in GFF’s Virtual Town of Gimli and access to Take 5, a series of five film industry panel discussions for emerging and mid-career filmmakers) and a regular pass $60. The price of both passes bumps up $10 after July 1.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.