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New West Film Fest Unites Movie Buffs

The New West Film Fest returned to the city last month with a refreshing line-up of feature-length and short films bringing together film lovers from across the spectrum.

The three-day festival, which ran from Oct 20-22, and is in its sixth year, opened with the coming-of-age multiple award-winning Canadian film, Closet Monster, which showcases the life of a teenager who comes out of the closet.

The festival ran across three venues – Landmark Cinemas, Douglas College and Anvil Theatre. One of the most awaited films in the line-up was the documentary, Waiting for B, an intimate portrait of fans of pop star Beyonce Knowles, who camped out for two months to be the first in line for her 2013 concert in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Kathleen Somerville, Director of the New West Film Society, says that this year’s film line-up was unique.

“This was the first time we opened the festival to short-film submissions and received an overwhelming 40 submissions. We plan to open submissions for feature-length films nest year,” says Somerville.

Cannes Jury prize winner, The Lobster, a futuristic drama starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, was screened, followed by a Shorts program which featured 10 short films ranging from 1 – 14 minutes.

Somerville says students – both cine goers and directors form a large part of the festival’s audience. In order to target the youth, the festival had priced tickets for students (and seniors) at $5 while the rest of the public paid $8. Passes for the entire festival was also available for purchase, which allowed movie goers to watch all the films in the line-up.

“A large part of the submissions and the chosen shorts are student films. Our partnership with the CG Masters School of 3D Animation gives us access to these student films and for the students a platform to showcase their talented shorts,” Somerville says.

The festival, which started out as an environmental documentary festival, went back to its roots with the screening of two films that deal with extremely contemporary issues. New Westminster director, Scott Renyard, showcased his documentary, The Pristine Coast, which takes a look at the collapsing marine ecosystem off the coast of British Columbia.

A First Nations leader and lawyer confronts fracking (or hydraulic fracturing – high pressure drilling into the earth to extract oil or gas) within his indigenous community in the expose’ Fractured Land.

  • The festival closed with the screening of Captain Fantastic, a family drama that sees a father of six leaving his comfort zone and challenging his idea of parenting. Somerville, who met the City Council in October to declare the festival week as the New West Film Week, says, “This city has so much to offer as a filming location and the Film Week is our way of celebrating the city and its love for films.”