The third annual Brantford Film Festival took place over the weekend, from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3, and was another huge success as the festival continues to grow each year. This year saw an estimated 600 people come out to enjoy a large variety of awesome films.
The festival, which saw five different viewing times with four screens each, concluded with an awards gala on Saturday night. There were six awards given out, as well as screenings of the winning films, a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres.
The big winner at the festival was the Canadian film “Iron Road”, which won the awards for Best Feature Length, Best of the Festival, and People’s Choice. The film, which was a love story set against the building of a Canadian railroad using Chinese immigrants in the 1800’s, was shot in China and Kamloops, B.C. It was an excellent movie and was directed by David Wu, and starred Li Sun and London, Ont. native Luke McFarlane. Other notable actors are the legendary Peter O’Toole and Sam Neil of Jurassic Park fame.
The film’s producer, Anne Tait, said jokingly that after winning an award at Rome’s film festival she was “ascending to the Brantford Film Festival.” Tait was thrilled to win the awards and was very pleased with the “rapt audiences that came to see the movie.” She had heard of the festival from a friend that lives in Brantford, and decided to submit her movie here.
“The award is rewarding, but it’s those individuals in Brantford that make it worthwhile,” said Tait.
The winning producer said she had made the movie because she wanted to tell the story of a “dark chapter of Canadian history, when thousands of Chinese had the dream to come to Canada, were mistreated, but some survived and were able to overcome and carve out a good life for themselves here.”
The winner of Best Documentary was “Broken Soldier.” It told the eye-opening account of several war veterans, who upon being released from the army for medical reasons, experienced shocking reductions in insurance and health benefits and other non-financial injustices from the Canadian government and Veterans Affairs Services.
The film’s director and maker of the film, Dale Stevens, said that he was “grateful to be in Brantford and have people watch our film. This is our first film festival, so this is special.”
In the movie, he describes the soldiers as “feeling betrayed by the government they were serving.”
Other winners included “Blood Country” for best short, and “They Grow Together” for Best Aboriginal Film. The winner for Best Student Film was “Sin Dolor”.
Directed by Joe Greco, it was one of the festival’s more controversial and disturbing films, and told the story of a doctor looking for the source of a boy’s inability to feel pain.
Paula Thomlinson, a member of the festival’s Organizing Committee and MC at the awards gala said she was very pleased with how the festival went. She said they continue to put on this festival to “make Brantford a better place and to be a part of the transformation of our city.”
Thomlinson said the planning for next year’s festival takes place as soon as this one ends, and that it takes a lot of work and co-operation from all of the volunteers involved. She said the goal every year is to show “amusing and thought provoking films and celebrate independent film-making.”
Other films that stood out included “Shouting Secrets,” a dramatic and moving story about a Native American family that comes together amidst tragic circumstances, and “The Post-Lifers,” a gory yet comedic ‘mocumentary’ on zombies.