It’s October, which means the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) is in full swing!
The annual event, which is in its 32nd year, kicked off yesterday and is streaming online until October 17. Featuring a stellar lineup of local (including the CBC Shorts playlist, which showcases the landscapes and stories of Newfoundland and Labrador), national and international films, there’s something for everyone.
Consisting of 12 features and 42 shorts representing 19 countries and 22 languages, the virtual format offers a broader reach, giving filmmakers and film lovers who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to attend the festival in person the opportunity to take it all in.
“Our 32nd edition is a record-breaker! We had a record of 950 film submissions. Building on the huge success of last year’s online festival, we have invested in our digital format to keep our patrons safe and engaged. From October 13-17, patrons in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Ontario can stream all 54 films on-demand, with some provincial restrictions,” says Thandi O’Grady, Marketing Assistant with the SJIWFF.
This year’s festival also features an expanded virtual Film Industry Forum (the largest industry event in the province) with over 50 filmmakers and industry leaders from across Canada and around the world in pre-recorded sessions. The Face 2 Face sessions offer creators the chance to connect with industry leaders live via a new, online format. Another new feature this year is the accessibility pass, which gives direct access to all the films with captioning or full subtitles (which is 70 per cent of the lineup).
Local partnerships have been crucial to the SJIWFF’s success over the years, which have also resulted in some innovative programming. As part of the FRAMED film education series, for instance, the SJIWFF is partnering with First Light to create film industry opportunities for local Indigenous peoples through FRAMED Spirit Song (a capacity-building program that will result in a 15-minute documentary).
But film isn’t the only area in which the SJIWFF supports local creators. For the third year in a row, the SJIWFF has teamed up with Quidi Vidi Brewery and Eastern Edge Gallery to release “Director’s Cut,” a limited-run festival beer (available at NLC locations throughout the province) with labels featuring artwork by local women artists. This year, 71 submissions were received and 32 artists were selected.
While selected artists receive a SJIWFF32 festival pass and an honorarium for the use of their image (along with some extra goodies), they also gain exposure by having their work displayed in such a public way.
“The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival is a proud supporter of creative women. We strive to celebrate their talents and achievements in the film and arts industries. The limited-run beer, Director’s Cut, is one of our favourite opportunities to do just that,” says Trina Ralph, Interim Executive Director of the SJIWFF.
“Original artwork is curated from local women artists with the help of Eastern Edge Gallery, and the support of Quidi Vidi Brewery in developing and distributing this limited edition featuring labels from these artists is critical. The support of both of these partners is greatly appreciated in pursuing our mission and mandate.”