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Atlantic Film Festival shaping up

Atlantic Canadian Films Shine Bright Alongside International Blockbusters as the 28th Atlantic Film Festival Announces Its Full Program

The world is going blind. It’s summer camp and you are an awkward 10-year-old. Werewolves from Dartmouth are invading Dover. And you are about to spend two hours with the most revered punk poetess in the world. The 28th Atlantic Film Festival, happening September 11-20, 2008, announced today the array of 254 films that will be bringing the diverse and eclectic world on film to the East Coast.

"We are proud of the calibre of films, music, and industry sessions that we are bringing to Atlantic Canada in this, our biggest year yet," said Gregor Ash, Executive Director. "The Festival this year continues its tradition of being a unique cultural event in the country that showcases the vast talent of Atlantic Canada while bringing films from across the country and world to Halifax.”

The festival kicks off on September 11th with the recently announced NBC Universal Canada Opening Night Gala presentation of the film Blindness, a Canada-Brazil co-production that recently had its world premiere opening the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. Starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal and Alice Braga, Blindness was adapted from Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago’s novel by the Tony and Genie Award-winning Canadian Don McKellar. Tickets to the Opening Night Film are $15.

Following the screening the red carpet clad NBC Universal Canada Opening Night Party will transform downtown Halifax into the largest outdoor street party of the year. Over 3,000 guests will flood several blocks of historic Argyle Street, which will be closed off to allow for mixing, mingling and an exciting musical headlining performance by emerging star Justin Nozuka. Halifax locals El Viento Flamenco will open the show with their spicy Latin flavour. Tickets to the Opening Night Party are $25.

Closing the Festival on September 20 is the Empire Theatres Closing Gala screening and Canadian premiere of Summerhood, the feature film debut from Halifax filmmaker Jacob Medjuck. The hilarious film follows the story of a pivotal summer in the life of a nine-going-on-10-year-old boy and features a memorable narration by John Cusack. Tickets to the film are on sale for $15.

The Empire Theatres Closing Gala Party at the Marquee Club will end the Festival with a bang, featuring live musical performances from amazing East Coast talents including Mardeen, Boxer the Horse and Rich Aucoin.

All eleven galas of the 28th Atlantic Film Festival boast riveting and diverse films from Canada and abroad. Halifax’s own Michael Melski’s debut feature film Growing Op will be screened at the Atlantic Gala presented by Desjardins Financial Securities; the Telefilm Canada Gala brings the latest film by internationally acclaimed Canadian Atom Egoyan, Adoration, to Halifax; the Eastlink International Gala features the controversial and unique drama Surveillance from filmmaker Jennifer Chambers Lynch; the CBC Atlantic Shorts Gala brings together seven diverse films from East Coast talents including Cory Bowles, Jay Dahl and Jason Eisenor; the Empire Theatres ViewFinders Red Carpet Gala presentation of The Black Balloon is a compelling film for the whole family to enjoy; Une Conte de Noël, the latest film starring screen legend Catherine Deneuve will screen as the French Gala sponsored by the Consulate General of France; the always edgy Late Shift Gala will screen the Canadian/German co-production of Otto; or, Up With Dead People; the Star! Canadian Gala features the wildly anticipated One Week starring Joshua Jackson; and finally the Canwest Inspired Music Gala presentation of Patti Smith: Dream of Life brings the life of a living music legend to the big screen in a moving documentary by first time filmmaker Steven Sebring.

The Festival lineup is a well-balanced offering of Atlantic, Canadian and International films. The Rogers Presents…A Series of Special Presentations offers a variety of brilliant films including the cuttingly skeptical non-fiction feature from celebrated funnymen Larry Charles and Bill Maher Religulous (USA), Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno (USA), Down to the Dirt (Canada), The Brothers Bloom (USA), Wendy and Lucy (USA), Waltz with Bashir (Israel/Germany/France), and Real Time (Canada).

Back again this year are three popular programs on the cutting edge of cinema - Frame X Frame (a series of animated shorts), That’s So Gay Sponsored by Empire Theatres (Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered themed shorts and features), and the darkly edgy late night collection of shorts and features, Late Shift.
For families, students, and school classes, the ViewFinders @ the AFF program includes four days of screenings at the Oxford Theatre from Wednesday, September 17 to Saturday, September 20. From youth-themed internationally acclaimed films such as Frontrunners and Fighter, to a variety of locally produced shorts, the ViewFinders @ the AFF includes films geared for youth ages 3 to 18. Returning again this year, and screening throughout the duration of ViewFinders @ the AFF are the winners of the 2008 Movie, Animation and Green Screen Challenges, as well as the Pitch for Production film I Look Good and So Do You which will screen as part of the Empire Theatres ViewFinders Red Carpet Gala.

Beyond the screenings, through this year’s Inspired Industry Sessions the Atlantic Film Festival brings a series of innovative panels, discussions and master classes to delegates including the Inspired Script, Inspired Doc and Inspired Music Programs.

New to Inspired Music this year is the Sountracks & Stories Songwriters Circle sponsored by the Songwriters Association of Canada taking place at The Carleton on Friday, September 19, lead by special guest host Bruce Guthro and featuring intimate performances and conversation with musicians Catherine McLellan, Tim Baker (Hey Rosetta!), Alex Madsen (The Divorcees) and Amelia Curran. A limited number of tickets are now available at $15.

The world of punk and new wave is also coming to the Inspired Music as the Atlantic Film Festival welcomes legendary music businessman Seymour Stein who will deliver a keynote address on Thursday, September 18 sponsored by Warner Music Canada. The man behind the careers of music superstars such as Madonna, The Ramones, and Talking Heads just to name a few will sit down for an conversation with Canadian music journalist Larry LeBlanc. Tickets for this event are available for $15.

Live music performances will be showcasing the best East Coast talent at the Marquee with the Star! Canadian Gala, Music & Image Showcase I on Thursday, September 18 featuring performances by Paper Lions, Sproll, Hey Rosetta! and a very special guest that will be announced later. The Inspired Music Gala Showcase, Music & Image Showcase II on Friday, September 19 will include performances by Tom Fun Orchestra, Christina Martin, Grand Theft Bus, and The Novaks.

From September 12 to 14, the AFFA’s Strategic Partners will return for it’s eleventh year by welcoming delegates from around the world including SP spotlight countries Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and anchor countries Canada, USA and the United Kingdom. With its strongest list of keynote speakers and panelists ever, things begin on Friday, September 14 with keynote speaker, internationally acclaimed producer of the Academy Award winning film Pan’s Labyrinth, Frida Torresblanco. Noreen Halpern of Blueprint Productions will deliver the Saturday September 13 keynote address. This year’s panels include Spells, Incantations and Sales Projections exploring the art of packaging and sales projections to attract financing; Hits Spun from the Web which shines the light on content that has moved from the web to television; and Imitation, the Highest Format of Flattery, exploring the proliferation of scripted formats on television.

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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