“Whirlwind of Emotions”: The Ottawa International Film Festival prepares for its first in-person screenings

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When 21-year-old filmmaker Adam Bowman was asked if he would like his short film to screen at the Ottawa International Film Festival, he didn’t hesitate to answer.

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“I was like, sure. Is that a rhetorical question?” said Bowman, a Toronto resident and director of the award-winning documentary short, A Man and His Murals.

Bowman and his team of eight – including Ottawa natives Julian Orzel, Käthe Zahn and Andrew Robichaud – will see their film in theaters for the first time on March 12.

“Honestly, it’s going to be a whirlwind of emotions,” he said of the idea of ​​opening for Kubrick in Kubrick, a three-time international award-winning documentary feature. “It’s nerve-wracking. Will people pay attention? Will people think it’s just the short before the movie they bought tickets for?

“At the same time, for me and my peers to be able to go in there and see it and kind of block it all out and enjoy the seven-minute movie that we’ve created, it’s just going to be the best feeling ever, to be honest. ”

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The film – which is about one of the very first street performers in Toronto – has been selected as part of the Ottawa International Film Festival, which opens March 9-20 for in-person screenings for the premiere. times in the short history of the event. The ByTowne Cinema, the Ottawa Art Gallery and the Mayfair Theater will host screenings of the festival’s 26 internationally acclaimed feature films and 26 Canadian short films.

The first edition of the festival was supposed to take place in March 2020, but was canceled due to COVID-19. After screening the festival online for the 2021 season, IFFO is now turning on the spotlight for its first-ever in-person viewings.

“There is no substitute for having an audience sitting together in a theater and being able to discuss the film afterwards,” said Kelly Neall, Executive Director of IFFO. “We’ll try to keep it as open as possible so people can have a chance to meet filmmakers and talk to each other.”

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“We are thrilled to present IFFO 2022 as a primarily live event,” Tom McSorley, Executive Director of IFFO and the Canadian Film Institute, said in a press release. The festival will also present five films online for those from Ontario and Quebec.

McSorley said the festival “will adhere to public health and safety protocols.” For example, customers will be asked to provide a proof of vaccination QR code with government-issued photo ID at all venues before entering. There will also be mandatory masking when not eating or drinking, physical distancing and self-screening before arrival. Hand disinfection at planned stations will be available.

All of these measures will allow filmmakers to see their creations in person on the big screen for the first time in a long time – or in Bowman’s case, for the very first time. His film, which follows the artistic life and career of Toronto native Walter Ruston, entered seven festivals after being completed in May 2021. It won two awards for best documentary and best short film at the Canada Shorts festival.

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But all of these festivals were only screened online.

“You can’t show up, you can’t attend a panel, you can’t network or make your way to more festivals like most filmmakers,” Bowman said of film screening challenges. online only. “I didn’t think these opportunities would arise anymore.”

Luckily for the young filmmaker, IFFO’s programming team looked to festivals around the world to find candidates for this year’s event. “(It’s) the best kind of event of festivals,” Neall said.

IFFO is organized to allow an Ottawa audience to enjoy an international film festival in their own neighborhood, Neall said.

“We’re not really trying to compete with TIFF or any of the festivals in Montreal. (We) just bring people downtown to enjoy a night out and watch a screening and create a really dynamic and interesting attraction for the city.

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Twenty-six of the feature films will be paired with a Canadian short film that will be screened beforehand. “It will be a good duality there. You get the punchy short and then the more esoteric feature,” Bowman said.

Tickets start at $15 for a single screening, $50 for five screenings, and $200 for a full festival package.

“We really hope people will come. We try to offer our screenings to a younger audience, but I think it will appeal to everyone,” Neall said.

IFFO will work closely with its partners in ByTowne, OAG and Mayfair to project the festival.

“We hope people will be as excited as we are about coming to a film festival,” Neall said.

For more information, visit iffo.ca.

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