MILTON FILM FESTIVAL
“A precocious young girl pushing against the restrictions of Saudi Society, a middle aged gay man who loses his job and his home because of who he loves. A mayor of a small east coast village trying to save his community. A mouse who becomes friends with a bear. These are just some of the lives that we have the privilege to inhabit this weekend ... through the power of film.”
Milton Film Festival’s Grand Gala took place in the Escarpment Hall of the Milton Centre for the Arts this past Saturday evening. The festival is in its proud second year, with 2015 featuring award winners such as Boyhood, and The Grand Seduction by well known Canadian director Don McKellar, as well as local shorts such as Bamboozled (Mike Martins). Screening Saturday evening was A Mile In These Hooves ( James Brylowski), a quirky, heartwarming film about a pair of friends set out to break the world record for the “longest distance travelled in a two-person costume”. The event drew a pleasing crowd, attracted by a love of cinema and a love of sharing it with their neighbours. In attendance this year were noted guests such as Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich, author and journalist Ron Base, and our Ontario MPP Indira Naidoo-Harris, who commented in her speech on her love of the art and sharing the passion with the people around her.
Community was the focus of the night’s sentiments. Jennifer Smith, the chief coordinator of the weekend’s events, remarked that after all the planning, the big pay off for her is the response of the public, the enjoyment they receive experiencing the films “the way they were supposed to be ... in the company of other human beings on a big screen.” The Milton Film Festival wholeheartedly commits itself to the belief that film plays a part in creating community. This binding power is especially important in Canadian communities like Milton whose identity is drowned out amidst the roaring tide of mainstream media.
For Ron Base, MFF host, the value lies in providing the community access to independent films that would never gain a run in a community with one small commercial movie theatre. “We’re starved out here for offbeat, different films, foreign films.” Canadian cinema, as noted by Jennifer, “is by definition independent film” and suffers under a lack of distribution and exposure. Events like MFF help bring films from the minds of creators to the community at large, adhering a sense of identity and pride unique to our town.
Canadian films are definitely on the rise, with more commercial films like The Grand Seduction finding firm ground with the mainstream, and it’s thanks in part to events like MFF and the hard work of the organizers that encourage artists by giving them a platform for showcasing their work, and more importantly, bring smiles to the faces in the audience