By Posted on: Monday, October 17th, 2016

Katherine Canty on “January Hymn,” her all-female led production

By Candice Walsh

Katherine Canty is one of our international filmmakers (from Ireland) being showcased in this year’s Festival. Her film, January Hymn, is her first funded project, and is an all-female led production. Her enthusiasm and exuberance on social media piqued my curiosity, and led to an interview with her from across the pond.

Katherine Canty

INTERVIEWER: I would love to know more about you and your background as a filmmaker.

KATHERINE: So I started making films when I was living in France a few years ago. I just started making little DIY shorts. Filming was all about figuring out the language, and everything was so shaky. I had studied French and that’s why I was living in France. But at some point I decided, “I’m not going to stay here for my whole life; I think it’s time to go back to university.” One day I just had enough of work, and I said, “No more of this!” I Googled “Manchester filmmaking,” and I thought, I’ll do that. So I did a Masters in Filmmaking, in Manchester.

I: [laughs] Nice. And that’s how you got into directing?

K: I kind of got to know myself as a director, and I thought, “Okay yeah, I can do this.” Once I graduated I started working on the script for January Hymn. The whole thing was really funny because I had moved back to Ireland and I didn’t really know anything about funding. I’d never dealt with funding so I just kind of went looking for producers. I found my producer Tanja and I said, “Look, I’ve got this script. I don’t know anything about funding; shall we try and do something?” She agreed, and we were kinda like, “Let’s see what happens.” And I got the funding! Which was quite funny because I came straight out of arts school and got this coveted kind of funding. But I knew nothing about it. I was like yeah we’re gonna make a film, and people in the industry were like, “You got signatures?!” And I was like, “Yeah!” And then we made the film. That’s the really simple version of it. [laughs]

I: [laughs] That’s great to hear, that people are willing to give new filmmakers a chance. So is this your first time directing?

K: It’s my first funded project.

I: Congrats! Tell us a little about January Hymn.

K: January Hymn is about my experience with grief. Simply put, it’s a personal expression of the strangeness of grief. My father died seven years ago this January. It’s my poetic relationship to home, and the realization that as time passes, home will change. My dad isn’t there physically anymore, but it’s still something that is within me. There’s no conclusion to grief. I think C.S. Lewis said that it’s a spiral, so it changes shape. But it never goes away. There’s no conclusion in the film. But I don’t think it’s a particularly mournful film.

I: You get a real sense of Clara’s aloneness. She’s so isolated in the film, even if she’s sitting across the table from someone else.

January Hymn

K: Yeah, it’s just this kind of disorientation — the inaccessibility of it. Until it happens to you, you have this idea that you cry a lot, that you cry all the time. There’s this idea of something coming out of you, and feeling some release. But if you can’t, if you don’t grieve that way… I get the feeling that a lot of people don’t. Even now, my relationship to my father is still evolving, and still developing, even though it’s obviously not still present in the physical way.

I: I noticed in the film that there’s not much sound, or music. There are a lot of long silences, and the conversation is very pointed. You have to pay attention to it. Was that a tactic you really tried to apply, where you’re showing and not telling?

K: Yeah, absolutely, because grief is such an intangible thing that I myself could not express in my own words. I’m always very aware of the limitations of words. So certainly there is the question of showing rather than telling, but also in a sense, not showing at all. This is all getting very confusing. [laughs] But I suppose because of the nature of it, it’s hard to even explain.

I: I guess a lot of it is leaving it up to the viewer to take what they want from it.

K: Yeah I think so. Just let it sort of sit with them, I hope.

I: And this might be an obvious question, but did you purposely choose to have an all female led production?

K: Yes, and I’m very glad you flagged that question with me. Yes, absolutely. Because when I was in arts school, my MA class was very small and we were all women. It was fantastic. But then when I left art school and went to London, I did some production work and it was terrible. I hated it, and it was very much the boys club. I was very alienated by that, and I was like, you know, there’s a lot of talk around women in film. But are we actually looking at what our options might be? Because very often people who don’t agree with the ideology of selecting an all-women crew come back with the argument that you have to pick the best person. You do, but are you looking at all of the people for the job? So I think it was just my attempt to contribute something.

I: What was that experience like?

K: When I left arts school I didn’t want to identify as a female filmmaker. Chantal Akerman didn’t want her work shown in film festivals that focused on queer cinema, because she didn’t want to ghettoize it. I kind of had that idea when I left art school, but seeing the positive response from the film community, I now very much identify as a female filmmaker and I don’t hesitate to use that title.


I: A big part of our Festival focuses on upcoming filmmakers. As a filmmaker, do you have any kind of advice or encouragement for filmmakers who are just getting started?

I would say don’t be apologetic. Hustle, and get your work out there. Tell everybody about it! Do everything possible, whether it’s sending it to festivals, or writing directly to festival directors. You’re making their job easier — they want to hear about your work. Push whatever it is that makes your film unique. I keep pushing the all-female led thing, and hashtagging the hell out of it. Push your work and don’t be apologetic. I’ve noticed women are especially apologetic. Don’t be sorry — keep going. You’ve got a right and a responsibility to.

I: I love that. Don’t be apologetic.

K: Absolutely. Because if people are like, “Who’s this person pushing their work? Who do they think they are?” And then they go to Google your name maybe they’ll get interested. Just keep going.

I: Your enthusiastic social media presence is actually one of the reasons why I wanted to interview you. [laughs] Is there anything else you want to add?

K: I’d like to just take the opportunity to say thanks to Niamh, our lead actress. Thank you to Ally, to Aisling, Gina, Johnny, Joe, Paddy, my entire cast. They were all fantastic. Thank you to Tanja, to Kate, our D.O.P. Thanks guys! And thank you to the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. I’m really touched you saw something in the film.

January Hymn will be screening on Sunday, October 22, in the Evening Shorts session starting at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at the LSPU Hall.

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By Posted on: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Wanda Nolan on the RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award, and being a first-time director

By Candice Walsh

Local filmmaker Wanda Nolan has two short films in the 27th annual St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival. Mystery of the Secret Room is Nolan’s animated directorial debut, and her script for Crocuses won the 2015 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award.

I had the opportunity to talk to Nolan about her directorial experiences.

Wanda Nolan

INTERVIEWER: I’d love to know a little about your background and how you got started with filmmaking.

WANDA: My background is fiction writing. I earned my Masters of Fine Arts from UBC, a multi-disciplinary program, so I had to take three disciplines. I did a summer residency just kind of thinking, oh, I’ll do film – I just wanted that credit, but I ended up loving it. I wrote my first film, Four Sisters, and it was created, but I didn’t direct it. The ball started rolling from there. I did more writing and editing, and then I started working for the National Film Board doing research for them, and story consultations.

I: And you have your directorial debut in the Festival this year!

W: Yes, Mystery of the Secret Room is my directorial debut, but Crocuses is my first time directing live action. Both of them coming out at the same time is crazy exciting.

I: What made you go the directorial route? Was it just kind of a natural progression?

W: Annette Clarke, the executive producer at the NFB was such an amazing mentor. She pushed me towards directing although I had only ever intended to write. I thought Mystery of the Secret Room would make a great animation, and she encouraged me to submit it under their emerging artist budget.

I: So how do you direct an animation, exactly?

W: It’s a lot of Word documents [laughs]. Claire Blanchet was the Animation Supervisor, so it was kind of like working with a cinematographer where you talk about your vision and then he or she executes the vision. But with animation, it’s so specific. There’s character design and environment design, so you have to write every single thing down. It’s a collaborative effort. She came to St. John’s a few times and we storyboarded everything. And Claire is incredible. She’s really good at taking every note into consideration, but at the same time, you can see her voice in the story as well. This is really important, as it is with any cinematographer. The art direction is just so gorgeous.

I: It’s very beautiful. It’s the first local animation that’s been submitted to the Festival in quite some time.

W: Oh wow. Claire Blanchet will be here from Montreal, and she’s actually one of the [Interactive] Incubator Project winners this year. To be fair, Annette and I were the only ones working on the film from here; we had a whole animation team in Montreal. The animation studio at the NFB is magical. Every door you open is something new and different. The level of creativity is over the top.

I: And Crocuses. Where did the story come from?

W: Like everything I write, it was a piece of fiction first. When I was applying to the RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award, I got really interested in the camera as a narrative voice. As a writer, you place the reader in the story through tense and point of view. I wanted to understand how the camera does that. So I wrote this story as a memory piece — it’s a voice over. I wanted to play with images.

I: This is also a period piece. Was that part challenging, having to stay true to period dress, setting…?

W:It was really challenging. Latonia Hartery was the producer and she was a huge help. She’s really good at what she does. We had four time periods in that piece: present day, 1950s, 1960s, and the 1930s. So I wanted each period to have a palette. We spent a lot of money on the locations, and you can see that in the film.  And, Ian Vatcher, our cinematographer, did an amazing job making these worlds come to life.

Set by Latonia Hartery.

Photo by Latonia Hartery.

I: What about wardrobe?

The wedding dress was so gorgeous and so hard to get! We looked at so many. I called this woman, Amanda Bulman, who had replied to my online classified, and when I called her, she was at her birthday party. When she described the dress I was like, “This is the dress!” So I hunted her down. [laughs]

I: I was reading up on when you won the award last year. The plot changed – it started out as a different kind of story.

W: Yeah, it did. It was an ambitious script. Originally, she (Rita) had already moved into the senior home, and there was a man provoking her. He was flirty and it kind of pissed her off. So just to make it more economical, I decided to make it just about Rita and her daughter. I had to make choices that worked for the budget, and also to condense the story.

I: So it was more of an economic decision.

W: Yeah. I worked with Ruth Atkinson who is the story consultant. We did it for two reasons — to get it down to less pages, and budget wise to make it more of a succinct story.

I: How hard was the rewriting process?

W: It was challenging in some ways. Rewrites are always hard, really hard. And you do give up some things. I feel like it was more dark and humorous to begin with, but now it’s more sentimental. But I also think that sentimental is true to the character.

I: With the RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award, what was the most valuable outcome of receiving this award?

W: There are so many things. The recognition, to be chosen, is such a boost. It’s like a validation of yourself and your work. There’s an investment in your career, and the knowledge that you’re moving forward. Just simply being able to produce a film with that kind of budget when it’s so hard to do…it means a lot to my career. And the purpose of the award is for emerging artists, and for learning. I truly learned so much. I never directed actors before. There was a lot of Googling. [laughs]

I: [Laughs] Was it really hard to move from writing to directing?

W: It’s been a real growing process for me because I had to own my work in a totally different way. The thing about writing is that it’s a supportive role, and I feel comfortable with that. To be the director, you are the final say. So all the mistakes are yours, all the good things are yours…it’s a privilege to be able to own that, and at the same time it’s killer. You’re worried about messing up, and all these people are relying on you. And there are so many people out there who are deserving of it. Self-doubt can bury you.

I: I understand. Any sort of rejection can be soul sucking.

W: Totally, and that’ll never go away, and I think in some ways that’s good because you’re always reaching for something. But I can kind of ride it a little bit better. So going through this whole process, you have to step up and it’s really scary. But being able to produce something from all the doubt and fear is incredible.

The Crocuses crew.

The Crocuses crew.

I: What was the most challenging part of making Crocuses?

W: Getting over my “people pleasing,” and knowing that this is MY film, and my story. It’s a personal thing too, and I think for women the whole “people pleasing” thing is especially a problem. I recognized this, and how I’d have to say, “This is my film!” I didn’t do that everyday, for sure, and you always have to compromise. But being in the position to own your work is really empowering. That’s the biggest strength of the award, for sure.

I: That’s a good point. I think “people pleasing” really holds a lot of artists back.

W: I think so, yeah. I always see everything in grey; I always see the other side of the story. But sometimes you just have to let that go.

I: What was the mentorship experience like?

W: Anita’s really passionate about story and supporting the person. She’s really great at creating an encouraging space. She was great at walking through the script and the shots with me, and the director side of things, like, “What do you see here?” She helped me tease out the scenes.

I: Do you have any advice or suggestions for emerging filmmakers?

W: Go to all the [Interactive] Film Forum events at the Festival. Go to events at NIFCO. Sign up for workshops and meet people working on their films. There’s a real community here that is genuinely interested in helping each other out because we’re all kind of in the same boat. There were a lot of really experienced people working on my film that didn’t have to, but there’s that support in the community. But going to all those workshops, it’s inspiring. We’re introverts, so of course we spend a lot of time at home, alone. Participating in workshops will help you realize that you’re not on your own — we’re all just kind of figuring it out. Every project is a new one.

Mystery of the Secret Room will screen at the Evening Shorts session at the LSPU Hall on Saturday, October 22, starting at 7pm. Buy your tickets at the LSPU Hall box office.

Crocuses will debut at the Emera NL Closing Night Gala at Scotiabank Theatre on Sunday, October 23, starting at 7pm. Buy your tickets at the LSPU Hall box office.



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By Posted on: Friday, October 7th, 2016

Martine Blue, on persistence and the making of “Hunting Pignut”

By Candice Walsh

Martine Blue, local filmmaker, has two films in the 27th annual St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival – Hunting Pignut, a gutter punk feature, and The Perfect Family, a comedic short featuring a parrot-woman hybrid.

I caught up with her to talk about her life as a filmmaker.

Martine Blue on set

Interviewer: Can you tell me in your own words what Hunting Pignut is about?

Martine: It’s about a young teenage misfit named Bernice from around the bay. When her estranged father dies, a group of gutter punks turn up at his wake and steals his ashes. She runs away in search of her father’s ashes and to find her place in the world — to find her sense of community, and to discover her sense of family.

I: And for those of us who don’t know what “gutter punk” means, how would you describe that?

M: Oh that’s a good question. It’s that kind of basic punk idealism, but it goes a step beyond all that. Punk tends to be concerned with the style of the music, while gutter punk is more of an ideology of freedom and sometimes hedonism, and living on the fringes of society. It’s about not conforming to society’s rules.

I: A lot of this story was inspired from your own background, is that right?

M: Yes, for sure. I lived as a squatter and a traveller and without money for about seven years. I lived at C-Squat in New York and also travelled extensively around the world, and squatted in Europe. I also hitchhiked and hopped trains.

I: (Laughs) That sounds really exciting, actually.

M: (Laughs) I don’t know if it was exciting at the time. Sometimes when you don’t have a place to stay for the night and you’re looking for hours for a place to stay… I remember being in Spain and trying every door of every building so I could go up and sleep on the roof. The roof seemed like the safest place. I think I was in Barcelona. And after a couple of hours of just walking around the city with my dog looking for a place to sleep, at one point I thought it might just be easier to get a job.

I: (Laughs) That’s fair.

M: Also, you know, eating out of the garbage — you have to make sure the stuff’s not expired and there’s nothing dumped on it, nothing toxic. I guess you could say you’re cheating your time one way or another.

I: So Hunting Pignut draws from those experiences. That’s really interesting; I hope you write a memoir someday.

M: I might, I just might.

I: So with Hunting Pignut, why was St. John’s such a good setting to film this movie?

M: Well, a part of it was just economics. Of course, it’s cheapest for us, being an all Newfoundland crew – well, almost an all Newfoundland crew. But I was really happy to show a unique side to St. John’s that people don’t ordinarily see. We shot in a lot of alleyways, and we created a squat. We found a lot of places that were just as beautiful as the regular scenic vistas of St. John’s, but shown in a different light. The underbelly of it. At the same time I was careful to make sure that all the alleys were very picturesque, with lots of colourful graffiti. The film’s actually very colourful.

Hunting Pignut

I: I noticed!

M: When Bernice is in the bay, there’s sort of more a muted palette. But once she gets to St. John’s, her life comes alive, and so I picked a lot of locations that had very bright, colourful graffiti.

I: That’s awesome. You don’t really think of St. John’s as an edgy kind of graffiti-filled city, but looking at some of the clips from the film I’m like, “Where is this?”

M: (Laughs) We shot a bunch of it at Red Cliff actually. It’s so beautiful. We were so lucky to shoot there. I mean, for both my purposes and also what I consider to be beautiful. I like the decrepit aesthetic. Finding an old army radio station was like finding a pot of gold. We also created a squat at the old fire station on Duckworth Street. Our art director Xavier Georges and his team did an incredible job — I can’t wait for the art department to see their work.

I: You also have a short film in the Festival this year, The Perfect Family. What inspired you to create this story? It’s quite different from Hunting Pignut.

M: I got the inspiration from a black and white Sears photo. You know, those placeholder photos you see in photo frames, with perfect families in them? I had a photo frame that someone gave me and I hadn’t put a picture in it for a few years, so this beautiful picture frame was sitting on my desk with a picture of this other family. The character of Bird Mom in The Perfect Family is based on my parrot, Bird Brain, who passed away. But he’s in it at the very end. There’s a little video clip of Bird Brain.

I: Do you have any advice or suggestions for emerging women filmmakers, especially in Newfoundland?

M: Persistence is the key. You’re going to go through a lot of rejection during different phases of your career. You just have to believe in yourself. It’s daunting for sure, and that was something I faced over the years, and I had to battle with that in lots of ways. Things like not getting grants, not getting into all the film festivals you want, not getting every opportunity you apply for and hope for. Persistence is what you need in the long haul game for sure.

I: I’m a writer so I understand that side of things.

M: Oh my god, yeah. It’s hard for any artist.

I: Yeah, and from what I’ve read, you worked on the script for Hunting Pignut for quite some time.

M: Yeah, I started it back in 2010, so this is six years. I haven’t been working on it straight for six years, but quite a lot. I took it to PEI’s Screenwriter’s Bootcamp. I took it through Inspired Scripts in Halifax (now called the Script Development Program). I developed it with Paul Pope for about a year, and we started getting into financing and that kind of stuff. I was still rewriting it even as we were shooting — as things changed, as locations changed. I was writing each night. And then in editing, because I was cutting, I felt like I was still rewriting.

I: Editing is painful.

M: It’s challenging for sure. It’s really gratifying when it comes together. I remember spending three days on some scenes, and I never expected that because I’ve edited my own shorts in the past and it seemed so much easier because I didn’t have the same amount of footage. But I’m happy with the result.

I: Was there any point when you were just like, maybe I should just stop doing this, or put it aside?

M: No, never. I’m really happy that I’m really happy with this film, because as a filmmaker you’re not always happy with your work. I’ve had some films that I didn’t love, but I actually love both of these very much and they’re both very personal to me. My cinematography teacher once said that as soon as you finish shooting your film, it becomes part of your history because you learn so much from your shooting that you wish you could apply it to your film. I feel blessed that I actually love this one and I’m happy to jam it down people’s throats. (Laughs )

Hunting Pignut

A squatter’s scene from Hunting Pignut.

I: You’ve had had really good coverage, especially for Hunting Pignut, all across Canada. Do you have anything else to add about the process?

M: The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival was a huge support. I pitched the film to Anne Frank from Telefilm about two years ago at Scene and Heard, and that’s when she fell in love with the project. I made up a big look-book and showed her the world and the characters in the world of the bay, and she loved it. That’s where the ball really started rolling for Hunting Pignut. So I have to thank the women’s film fest for having those kinds of events where we can further our projects. They work.

I: I’m really happy to hear that.

M: I can’t thank the Festival enough. The Festival is fantastic for the opportunities it gives to women and also to men. It’s so supportive –  and the Festival itself is one of my very favourites. It’s amazing for not just networking and watching films, but actually learning. We don’t get a lot of that here because of our location. It’s an incredible event.

Both The Perfect Family and Hunting Pignut are screening at the LSPU Hall on Saturday, October 22, at 9:30PM. Tickets can be purchased at the LSPU Hall Box Office.

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By Posted on: Monday, September 26th, 2016

The 27th Annual St. John’s Women’s International Film Festival Line-Up!



Our festival line-up is all ready to roll out, along with that ‘ol red carpet!

We gotta say, we’re tickled pink over this year’s roster. We’ll be showcasing an enormous amount of talent from all around the world — as far as Australia. And, of course, we’ve got a ton of local films. We’ve got more film fest parties than ever before, and our [Interactive] Film Industry Forum will have you rubbing shoulders with the likes of Aisling Walsh and Brigitte Berman.

Here are some highlights.

ExxonMobil Opening Night Gala
The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent

The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival’s EXXONMOBIL OPENING NIGHT GALA will begin with a red carpet welcome at the Scotiabank Theatre (Avalon Mall) on October 19th, 7PM. Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman’s film The River of My Dreams: A Portrait of Gordon Pinsent will open the Festival this year.

The River of My Dreams

Oscar-winning filmmaker Brigitte Berman turns her talents to one of our most beloved local heroes, the world’s most charming rowdy man. It takes at least a full-blown feature to capture the life and time of such a performer, and The River of My Dreams delivers. Berman managed to draw from Gordon Pinsent a most intimate portrait of what makes him tick. Growing up in Grand Falls didn’t exactly present a life of promise and fame, but the young Gordon had big ambitions and untapped talent, and, unlike so many who dream, he found a way out. Call it fate or design, Pinsent ended up living the dream over seven decades of performing. Whether stage or screen, Pinsent always gave his all, building a rich legacy with which many of us are so familiar, including but not limited to Quentin Durgens, M.P., The Rowdyman, of course, John and the Missus, and notably the films The Shipping News, Away from Her, and The Grand Seduction. There’s a lot revealed in this documentary, for all the world’s stage and some, like this still mischievous octogenarian, know how to own it.

Emera NL Closing Night Gala

The Festival will wrap up at the Scotiabank Theatre (Avalon Mall) with the EMERA NL CLOSING NIGHT GALA screening of Maudie, a stunning film directed by Aisling Walsh. Check it out on October 23rd, 7PM.

Maudie St. John's International Women's Film Festival

With a bravura performance by Sally Hawkins as the titular figure, Maudie is an uncannily brilliant profile of the much-revered folk artist. Nova Scotia-based Maud Lewis famously suffered from crippling arthritis. The loneliness such a condition must have imposed on her found a large measure of relief in painting. Lewis’s colourfully naïve images drawn from gardens and fields surely animated the dullness of her domestic environment. But what began as a pastime grew into something much larger once the world more or less accidentally discovered her work. Also more or less accidental was the way Lewis’s gruff husband entered Lewis’s life. Played with uncharacteristic crustiness by Ethan Hawke, Everett Lewis changed everything. Not the world’s favourite bachelor, he nonetheless gave Lewis a new life and a teeny weeny home in which she could colour her world. With a script by our BFF Sherry White and production credits shared by the indomitable Mary Sexton, Maudie is a gripping story made more powerful through its understated treatment of a rather unusual figure in the Canadian imaginary.

We are very excited to be opening Maudie with the  2015 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award winning film Crocuses by Wanda Nolan.

Fantastic Features

You get the tickets; we’ll bring the popcorn. Check out our titles — this year we’ve got lots of locals!

Feature Docs

Learn about everything from the lifestyle of old school burlesque dancers to what the seal hunt means to the Inuit. Read the full lineup here.

Boundaries St. John's International Women's Film Festival

This year’s CBC Friday Night at Heart‘s feature is Boundaries, a fresh and powerful drama shot almost exclusively on Fogo Island and with an all-women crew. We don’t think we know of another film quite like Boundaries—that is, one that so profoundly explores politics and power from a woman’s point of view. Well, not just one woman’s point of view: several women are implicated in an ongoing negotiation between Canada and a financially desperate remote island nation. This is 2016, not 1949, but echoes of confederation are inevitable. That said, the real focus is how the three women featured here must cope with the demands of family, isolation, male privilege, and so on. 


Nearly 40 shorts are on the schedule this year! That means you’re bound to find at least a dozen films to love. Cancel your calls and grab a cup of coffee to settle in for a good read of our shorts program.

[Interactive] Film Industry Forum

There’s another amazing [Interactive] Film Industry Forum in store this year, allowing industry folks to come together to learn, educate, and inspire. Sign up for pitch sessions (limited space!) or learn about creating web video content — all this, and so much more, at this year’s SJIWFF.

Also, meet this year’s IIP winners!

Film Lover’s Lottery

We’re still selling tickets for the Film Lover’s Lottery! The prizes are outstanding, including an Adventure Canada Cruise valued at $15,000. Get all the details here.

The RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award

Congratulations, Emily Bridger!

Emily Bridger is the winner of the 2016 RBC Michelle Jackson Emerging Filmmaker Award! Emily was selected for her riveting script, Waste It, which will premiere in the 28th annual SJIWFF.

Emily Bridger

The RBC Michelle Jackson Award Emerging Filmmaker Award is facilitated by the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival in memory of Filmmaker and Student Mentor, Michelle Jackson who passed away suddenly in 2008. The award is made possible with the help of the RBC Foundation, the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, MO Entertainment, the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Co-Operative, Casting by Maggie, Atlantic Studios Cooperative, Ruth Atkinson, and Anita Reilly Mcgee.

Meet Our New Staff

We’re gearing up for another great festival, and we’ve got some new faces onboard. Get to know us!


From the top (left to right):

Jenn Brown – Executive Director; Victoria Wells – Technical Director; Liz Burt – Guest Services; Phil Winters – Projectionist; Devin Shears – Volunteer Coordinator; Heidi Wagner – Production Manager; Candice Walsh – Communications Coordinator; Grace King – Program Coordinator; Megan Kendell – Forum Assistant; Jackie Hynes – Forum Coordinator; and Anna Swain -Technical Assistant.

Get Your Tickets!

Festival veterans, we have a few venue changes this year and, as a result, some new box office info. Please check out our Box Office Info page for ticket purchases!


None of this would be possible without your help. 

If you have any questions, please drop Candice a line at candice [ at ] See you in the movies!


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By Posted on: Friday, September 2nd, 2016

We’re Hiring for SJIWFF27!

We are looking for three people to join our fantastic SJIWFF27 team. Each position is 8 weeks, 40 hours/week, with a flexible start date aiming for Wednesday, September 7th or as soon as possible.

Please email Jenn Brown at: with a resume and availability no later than Monday, September 5, 2016.

Production Manager
Working with the Executive Director and the Festival team, the Production Manager’s duties include but are not limited to: Managing Box Office and screening logistics; coordinating meet ‘n greet, Opening and Closing Night

Guest Services
Working with the Executive Director and the Festival team, the Guest Services Coordinator’s duties include but are not limited to: Liaising with sponsors; managing ticket logistics for our VIP galas and Opening and Closing night events (including seating plans); managing Festival Pass and Delegate Bag lists; and more.

Communications Coordinator
Working with the Executive Director and the Festival team, the Communications Coordinator’s duties include but are not limited to: updating and maintaining Festival website and all social media accounts; writing press releases and organizing the press conference; managing the media buy and all Festival-related promotional activities, and more.


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By Posted on: Friday, July 29th, 2016

Big Day For The Festival!

Today is a big day for the Festival. We are saying a huge thank you and a warm goodbye to the incredible Sarah Smellie for all the powerful, imaginative and uncompromisingly feminist work she has done for SJIWFF over the past seven years and we are excited to be welcoming to our new Executive Director, the hilarious, whip smart and extremely competent Jean Smith!

Jean has worked in the arts in St. John’s for thirty years, including seventeen years in the film industry.

She has been the Executive Director of the Newfoundland Independent Filmmaker’s Co-operative and the Executive director of The Nickel  Film Festival. She also worked for two years as the Box Office Manager of LSPU Hall and as a Program Officer at the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. She has been the recipient of both a CBC Patron of the Arts Award and a Women in Film and Television’s WAVE Award

We are thrilled to have her at the helm as we begin gearing up for our 27th annual Festival! 

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By Posted on: Monday, June 13th, 2016

Job Posting: Student position – Program Coordinator

Student position – Program Coordinator
Date posted: June 13th, 2016
Application deadline: June 29th, 2016
Contract duration: 7 weeks
Start date: July 11th, 2016

Organization Information

At 27 years old, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival is one of the longest-running women’s film festivals in the world. We support women in film and television in Newfoundland and Labrador and around the world with our annual five-day Film Festival and Film Industry Forum; our annual Scene & Heard Film Industry Conference; our year-round FRAMED Film Education Series; our cross-provincial Films On The Go tour; and our one-off screenings and workshops.

Job Description

We’re looking for the perfect student to help us build our official Program Guide.

Each year, we publish a 100-page Program Guide which includes film and workshop descriptions, schedules, and delegate bios. It also includes ads and welcome messages from Festival and Forum supporters. Our Program Coordinator will work with our Executive Director to collect ads and messages from Festival sponsors, sell advertising space to local businesses, and put together our famous Festival swag bags. In some cases the student might also work on designing advertisements using InDesign and Photoshop.

This is a great opportunity to get to know the local film industry, and to gain experience with graphic design programs.


This position is offered through the Canada Summer Jobs program. Applicants must have been full-time students in the Winter 2015 – 2016 semester, be heading back into full-time studies this Fall and must be between the ages of 15 and 30.

The ideal candidate for this position is friendly, flexible, motivated and independent, with an interest in film, women’s issues and graphic design. This position requires strong organizational instincts, exceptional communication skills and a proficiency with office software such as Google Drive. Familiarity with graphic design programs like InDesign and Photoshop is an asset.

People of all genders are encouraged to apply.

Email applications to Sarah Smellie at

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By Posted on: Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

SJIWFF Podcast : Librarian, Chef, Comedian & Filmmaker Amanda Bulman

For this episode of the SJIWFF Podcast we talked to Amanda Bulman about her recent WIFT-Atlantic and PUnk Films 1K Wave Award win and film the award will allow her to make. Amanda’s film is a documentary that looks at reasons people stop making art and what it takes to get them back into practising their craft after a hiatus. In this podcast she also talks about how she began doing stand up comedy and her experience of the thriving comedy scene here in St. John’s.

Catch Amanda hosting our Friday the 13th Bingo fundraiser!

TW: Rape, Sexual Violence
Towards the end of this episode we talk about Rape is Real and Everywhere, A Comedy Show, a show where stand up comedians who are also rape survivors talk about their experiences of sexual violence.

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By Posted on: Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

FRAMED West 2016

FW Facebook Page 2016

FRAMED West film making camp is underway in Corner Brook this week!

The camp is being led by award-winning filmmaker Allison White, who was selected by Film Market Access (FMA) and First Weekend Club (FWC) as the winner of an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2016 Festival de Cannes /Marché du Film to present her current production project. White will be heading to Cannes days after the camp wraps up, you can read more about her win here.

Camp participants will film “Good Grief” a new comedic short film, written by Emily Bridger.

The film will play this Saturday, April 30th at the Theatre at Grenfell at 7:00pm, the event will also be the launch SJIWFF’s 2016 Films On The Go Tour.

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By Posted on: Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Free National Canadian Film Day Screening April 20th at 7pm at Nifco – Cancelled Due to Weather


Unfortunately, this screening has been cancelled due to the storm, stay cozy!

Where: NIFCO, 40 Kings Rd
When: 7:00pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of National Canadian Film Day, The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF), the Newfoundland Independent Filmmakers Cooperative (NIFCO) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) are partnering to show the feature length documentary Ninth Floor and the animated short film If I Was God. 

Mina Shum , director of Ninth Floor, will be Skyped in for a Q&A after the film.


Ninth Floor
Director: Mina Shum
Run time: 1h 21 min

In 1969, to protest the administration’s mishandling of racist accusations towards a professor, students at Sir George Williams University occupied a ninth floor computer lab.

If I Was God
Animator: Cordell Barker
Run time: 8 mins

In this short animated film, a Grade 7 boy’s mind starts to wander while dissecting a frog in Biology class. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself charged with God-like powers? Would you use them for good? For bad? Perhaps a little of both? The possibilities seem endless. Oh to have the power to toy with life and death, to create monsters who can punish those who torment him daily, or better yet, to create that one perfect day with Lily, the love of his 12-year-old life!

If I Was God is the latest offering from two-time Oscar®-nominated animator (The Cat Came Back, Strange Invaders) and long-time NFB collaborator Cordell Barker.

Click here to see the trailer for If I Was God on the NFB website.

Check out Cordell Barker’s Animation Master Class on the NFB website here.

Learn more about National Canadian Film Day here.

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