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Canada’s NSI Festival Filmexchange was hot!

The weather cooperated for SnowScreen, Manitoba-made films sold out, the pitch session and Film and TV Industry Luncheon attracted dynamic crowds and amateur filmmakers rocked the house – not a bad week for NSI FilmExchange, Canada’s Coolest Film Festival, March 2 – 6.

The festival started off with a hot event and the momentum built all week. Approximately 5,000 people attended throughout the five-day event, about 1,000 more than 2003. Delegate and screening pass sales also rose.

Families, pets, filmmakers, movie fans and interested bystanders gathered in record numbers for the annual SnowScreen event. National Film Board animation and short films from the Winnipeg Film Group, along with the first Manitoba Emerging Filmmaker's Award presentation, rounded out the agenda for the opening night.

“It was a perfect start to NSI FilmExchange,” said Bill Evans, Festival Director. “The giant screen carved from snow was a perfect fit for the vibrant films projected onto it. The looks on the faces of the children in the crowd, and the comments from our delegates, sponsors and guests confirm for us SnowScreen is a great kickoff to NSI FilmExchange!”

Three made-in-Manitoba films sold out, drawing enthusiastic crowds and lively Q & A sessions from the audiences. East of Euclid Writer-Director Jeff Solylo, and stars Michael O’Sullivan, Brent Neale, Daina Leitold and others attended the world premiere screening that opened the Late Night Series.

Seven Times Lucky celebrated its Canadian premiere with Writer-Director-Producer Gary Yates, Producer Liz Jarvis, actors Jonas Chernick and Aleks Paunovic, and many other cast and crew from the film.

Director Guy Maddin and star Mark McKinney were joined by producers Niv Fichman, Jody Shapiro and Phyllis Laing for the Manitoba premiere screening of The Saddest Music in the World to close the festival.

“What an inspiration to up-and-coming filmmakers, especially those in Manitoba, to see such high quality films celebrated in their hometown,” said Evans.

Special guests attended each feature film and participated in animated Q & A sessions with audience members. Guests included Director Carl Bessai and star Deborah Unger with their film Emile, Director Sudz Sutherland with his film, Love, Sex & Eating the Bones and Executive Producer Arnie Gelbart and star Mark Donato of The Blue Butterfly, opening the feature film line-up. Also attending were Director Gil Cardinal (Totem: The Return of the G’ psgolox Pole) and actress Alex Rice from On the Corner.

New to NSI FilmExchange was the Pitching Workshop, run by industry expert Jan Miller. Six participants were selected to work with the renowned pitch consultant during the festival, in preparation for the public pitch session in front of representatives from the film industry.

“The sold out crowd told us we made the right decision to add a pitch session to the lineup,” said Industry Centre Coordinator Brendon Sawatzky. “Not only did the participants get valuable feedback, but the audience was able to witness the process. Now if they’re stuck in an elevator with someone from the movie industry, they’ll be able to seize the moment and pitch their project.”

The Industry Luncheon: Your Local Film & TV Industry: An Arts & Culture Economic Opportunity was another very popular event for delegates and industry representatives. It featured some of the most influential people in the local, national and international film and television industry: Charles Bélanger, Chair of the Board, Telefilm Canada; Jamie Brown, CEO and Executive Producer, Frantic Films, Chair, Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association; Laura Michalchyshyn, Senior Vice President – Dramatic Programming, Alliance Atlantis, Chair, NSI Board of Directors; and Carole Vivier, CEO/General Manager, Film Commissioner, Manitoba Film & Sound Recording Development Corporation

NSI National Exposure was a resounding hit. Formerly known as Local Exposure and only open to Manitoba beginning filmmakers, this year amateur filmmakers from across Canada* were invited to submit their five-minute film for a chance at prizes, cash, prestigious titles, and the opportunity to have their film debuted on the big screen. In addition to the jury-selected finalists and individual prizes chosen from the 100 entries, the audience chose Jannie Bananie Goes on a Martini Bender as the $1000 People’s Choice Award winner. The film was co-produced by Winnipeggers Michelle Kuly and Lindsay Hammel, written by Sarah Sarsfield and edited, shot and directed by James Swirsky. David Eng from Toronto claimed the $500 second prize for his film Rising Star.

“It was very inspiring to see the energetic crowd participate in the People’ s Choice portion,” said Liz Hover, NSI National Exposure Coordinator. “And there were so many incredible films to choose from – what a wonderful opportunity for so many of the finalists to see their work on the big screen at a national film festival, and a great start to a filmmaking career!”

Mark your calendars now for the first week in March, 2005, when Canada’s Coolest Film Festival, returns to Winnipeg!

The National Screen Institute - Canada, with headquarters in Winnipeg, is one of Canada’s four nationally recognized film and television training schools. Every March in Winnipeg, NSI presents NSI FilmExchange Canadian Film Festival, the largest established film festival showcasing 100% Canadian film.

*The contest was open to all residents of Canada except residents of Quebec, employees (and those persons with whom they are domiciled) of National Screen Institute - Canada, Rogers, Taylor George Design, and of the corporations, the contest jury, and the advertising and promotional agencies involved in the Contest.

The National Screen Institute - Canada operates with ongoing funding from Telefilm Canada through Canadian Heritage, and Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Additional support provided by Patrons: Global Television Network, CTV and CBC Television. Further support provided by our Partners: Alliance Atlantis and Warner Bros. Canada Inc.


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