As Festival Director Marc Garniss points out, it’s not all that common to see a festival of any sort mark its 20th anniversary these days, but the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF) right here in the Limestone City is doing just that.
“Lots of festivals these days don’t seem to have the staying power – especially in the music scene – so to get to number 20 is kinda cool. We’re unique in that we focus on Canadian film, movies that the average person doesn’t get to see on the big screen. It feels like attendees really grasp onto a sense of ownership and pride at KCFF,” Garniss expressed of the longevity and ever-growing nature of the festival.
“Even non-Kingstonians embrace KCFF as a festival that represents Canadians and their art and stories. So, there’s a demand for what we do – our audience seems to grow every year and most films hit capacity – and we’re doing something original among other film festivals (our all-Canadian focus). There are not many film festivals between the Montreal-Toronto corridor either, so, lots of the smaller communities embrace KCFF as their hometown festival, as well. So, we have the support and encouragement from our audience. Plus we love our jobs, so we’re not jaded and tired of running this thing yet!”
With it being such a milestone, the festival has expanded some, adding an extra day to create five days full of events, and will see a lot of festival alumni, including former staff, interns, and filmmakers who’ve been heavily involved over the year, returning for all the action. As always, the festival will feature some non-film-centric events, such as live music, comedy, and in-conversation events, too.
“But we’re not reinventing anything,” Garniss said.
Which is a good thing, because those who’ve attended the KCFF in the past know that it is already unique and full of a huge variety of attractions crisscrossing genres, themes, and styles. And, when a festival is jam-packed with events, many of which sell to capacity, well… you’d don’t fix what’s not broken.
“It’s hard to describe the film festival to someone who has never attended… Yes, you do go and stare at a big screen like you would at a regular movie. But, festival-goers tend to cram lots of movies into a short amount of time and discuss and debate what they manage to see. You’re always going to kick yourself for missing something great since you can’t see everything. Some things sell out early and you end up going to your ‘Plan B,’ which might be your favourite film of the Fest,” Garniss said.
This year’s festival holds over 30 films, a daily feature of Canadian shorts and a number of live music events, and is sprinkled with workshops, meet and greets, and parties throughout. And while tickets only went on sale last week, there are a number of events that have already sold out.
The festival quite obviously celebrates Canadian arts and artists, but it also features a number of local productions, films with local connections, and local music. This year, following the Kingston Film Office’s local music video production process (which announced the local musicians and production companies involved late last month), the festival will feature local film and music in an entirely new way: All of the locally-produced music videos will debut at the 20th Kingston Canadian Film Festival. Those music videos will all be shown at the Ale House on Thursday, Mar. 12, 2020, right before Bedouin Soundclash, a band comprised of former Kingstonians and Queen’s alum take the stage at the same venue. This follows a nine-year hiatus for the band, and will undoubtedly feature all of Bedouin Soundclash’s hits, as well as some of the awesome new tracks from their latest album, MASS. The music video debuts will feature the following collaborations (which were aided by local volunteers helping out on each project:
- Adam Biehler Photography – Spencer Evans
- ALAFLK Productions – Sian Alcorn
- bnice Films Inc. – Moira Demorest
- Creative Nest – Teagan McLaren
- Emily Pelstring – The Pink Noise
- Happy Kid Productions – Oakridge Ave
- Jamstone Productions – Les Soliloques
- JL Creative Agency and Kingston Drone Pros – Alexandra Mundy
- Make Hay Media – The Meringues
- Skeleton Park Arts – Sadaf Amini
- SkEye Stream – Bon Evans
- Viva Productions – Yan-Nick Michaud
But, of course, the big draw of the festival is the huge cross-section of films to take in, a full schedule of which is available here.
“All the films are introduced by our knowledgeable moderators, who return at the end and invite up a ‘special guest’ for a Q&A – usually the director or a cast member. The audience can ask questions, make comments, give standing ovations, or walk out in disgust. It’s interactive with tons of moving pieces all colliding together in little movie theatres. Sponsors pass out swag, and you can vote on the ‘People’s Choice’ winner,” Garniss explained, noting that those in the film industry (or those with an interest in it) have the opportunity to meet a ton of new faces and industry guests, and “maybe even get some free advice on your new idea for a film.”
“I think these interactions are something we all need at times… With easier access to movies on Netflix and downloading, the festival experience can’t be replicated! So, everyone should check it out. No need to be a film nerd – all are welcome!”
So, with such a huge schedule of events, what is the Festival Director with 20 years of bringing the KCFF alive under his belt looking forward to most?
“The Twentieth Century by Matthew Rankin is one of the most bizarre films I’ve seen and I love it. TIFF billed it as a ‘heritage minute from hell.’ It actually features comedian Sean Cullen, who is at the Fest for both a stand-up show and post-show Q&A for Twentieth Century,” Garniss said.
The festival is known to see a lot of events sell out fast, so if you there’s something you want to see – or you want passes to the whole festival – get your tickets and passes in advance here.