Since 2016 The Forest City Film Festival has brought audiences together to celebrate films with a connection to the region of Southwestern Ontario. From major Hollywood films to wonderful independent cinema this region boasts some incredible world class talent and we have a great time each October with screenings, parties and industry events.
Forest City Film Festival 2019
The fourth Forest City Film Festival opened with an exciting Youth Film Festival on October 23 and continued with back-to-back screenings featuring 64 films at four venues over five days until October 27. We started the festival with a day of seminars for area high school students and then celebrated the best of the youth films in the evening with an amazing show and screenings. The Lerners Opening Night featured a wonderful opening party at Che Restobar, followed by a very special short film that shows the best of the Fanshawe Advanced Filmmaking Program and the important, powerful and engaging documentary, Prey. The emotional Q&A afterward was one that will not soon be forgotten by the nearly sold-out crowd that attended. Friday night saw internationally acclaimed director and Ingersoll native Robert Budreau here for a Q&A for his film, Stockholm. Saturday night was a retrospective of films by critically acclaimed, Sarnia-born director, Patricia Rozema. Sunday morning a sold out house was captivated by Anne Dagg, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. The weekend closed with our closing celebration where we awarded $4,000 in prize money and sculptures presented to winners in seven categories.
Over the course of the weekend, we had 44 films in competition with 15 shorts, 14 short documentaries, five feature films, five documentaries and five animations. We screened 20 films out of competition. Most of the films had someone from the creative team present for a Q&A after the screening. Audiences were engaged by asking questions at the Q&A sessions and handing in ballots for the Old Oak Audience Choice Award. They could then go and spend time in the Drewlo Filmmaker Lounge to chat one-on- one with filmmakers. It was a full, exciting and engaging weekend of local film
The filmmakers had an opportunity to learn and network from Friday through Sunday in nine Industry Sessions workshops and panels. Over three days we:The filmmakers had an opportunity to learn and network from Friday through Sunday in nine Industry Sessions workshops and panels. Over three days we:
Offered eight panels, three networking opportunities, one seminar and one pitch session
Engaged with 33 industry experts representing organizations such as Ontario Creates, National Screen Institute, CBC, William F. White International and ACTRA. In total, 40% of our experts were local, 60% came from Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax and 63% of experts were female while 59% of the audience was female
Finally, 380 people participated in the Fanshawe Industry Sessions, $11,000 Pitchfest and LEDC Networking Party
Youth Film Festival
Youth Film Festival
The Youth Film Festival celebrates, inspires and showcases the exceptional talent of students across Southwestern Ontario as they gain industry knowledge and it empowers them to share their vision through film and contemporary media. We give opportunities to high school students to celebrate their creativity and for their work to be seen on the big screen. In 2019 we:
Forest City Youth Film Festival provides year round experiences for students to learn to create from film industry professionals and post secondary educators.
Offered four educational seminars in London and one in St Thomas to high school students, attended by 600 students, and live streamed into seven classrooms
89 submissions from five schools at two school boards
24 finalists screened to an audience of 300 people and judged by five industry experts
$3,750 in prize money awarded0
Best Short FilmCHRISTMAS GREENDirector: Clara Altimas
A disgruntled woman pays an unwanted visit to her lonely neighbour, but both end up finding…
Best AnimationMY CANADIAN SONDirector: Ted Bezaire
Forest City Film Festival 2018
The third Forest City Film Festival ran from preview night on October 24 at 6 pm to Sunday October 28 at 10pm with back-to-back programming of 48 films all with connections to the region. We started the festival with a special preview night screening of the She Has a Name, a feature film about human trafficing, written by Londoner Andrew Kooman. The Lerners Opening night was on Thursday night with a wonderful starting party at Che, followed by a very special short film that was pitched here last year and then we moved on to the perfect Southwestern Ontario Feature Film. The Drawer Boy by Arturo Perez Torres and Aviva Armour-Ostroff thrilled a full house and Miles Potter charmed the audience with his opening talk. Friday night saw our special Flashback Friday event with famous Londoner, John Kapelos, coming into town for the screening of The Breakfast Club. Sunday afternoon was the inaugural International screening. A sold out house was captivated by On Her Shoulders, a very special film. The Weekend closed with the TD Awards Celebration with local band Waterbaby entertaining us and $4000 in prose money and sculptures given out among all the categories.
Over the course of the weekend, we had 37 films in competition with 11 shorts, 10 short documentaries, 3 feature films and 5 documentaries and 8 animations in our new category. We screened 11 films out of competition. Most of the films had someone from the creative team present for a Q&A after the screenings. The filmmakers had an opportunity to learn and network from Friday through Sunday in eight industry workshops and panels. Audiences were engaged by asking questions at the Start.ca Q&A sessions and handing in ballots for the Old Oak Audience Choice Awards. They could then go and spend time in the Labatt Filmmaker Lounge to chat more one on one with filmmakers. It was a busy, full and engaging weekend of local film.
Best Short FilmLITTLE BLACK DRESSDirector: Mackenzie Donaldson
Sally is on a mission to fund the perfect dress, as she recalls memories of her mother…
The second Forest City Film Festival ran from Thursday Oct. 26, 6PM to Sunday Oct. 29, 10PM with back-to-back programming of 46 films all with connections to the region. We started the festival with a sold-out preview night screening of the world premiere for Clearing the Way, a documentary about Canadian military engineers in Kandahar province Afghanistan from London director Paul Culliton. This was a powerful experience that will not soon be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to be there. The emotional night saw Silver Cross families, the loved ones of soldiers killed in action, joining military brass and soldiers profiled in the film, on stage at Wolf Performance Hall. We opened on Friday night with a special screening of the Truth is in the Stars, the documentary by Stratford filmmaker Craig Thompson featuring Williams Shatner’s study on Star Trek’s influence on science. We had 36 films in competition with 11 shorts, 11 short documentaries, three feature films and two documentaries and eight animations in our new category sponsored by Digital Extremes. We screened 10 films out of competition. Many of the films had someone from the creative team present for a Q&A after the screenings. The filmmakers had an opportunity to learn and network fromFriday through Sunday in eight industry workshops and panels. Audiences were engaged by asking questions at the Start.ca Q&A sessions and handing in ballots for the Old Oak Audience Choice Awards. They could then go and spend time in the Labatt Filmmaker Lounge to chat more one-on-one with filmmakers. It was a busy, full and engaging weekend of local film.
Best Short FilmMARTIN'S HAGGEDirector: Penny Eizenga
By Gordon Pinsent. Martin, a middle-aged despondent writer, is burdened with Hagge, his wil…
The inaugural Forest City Film Festival ran from Nov. 11 to Nov. 13, with back-to-back programming of twenty-eight films, all with connections to the region. We opened the festival with a fabulous sold-out Opening Gala Party and a screening of Room with a speech from screenwriter and Londoner, Emma Donoghue. We had twenty-two films in competition with ten shorts, eight short documentaries, three feature documentaries and one feature film. We screened six films out of competition. Many of the films had someone from the creative team present for a Q&A after their screenings. The filmmakers had an opportunity to learn and network at Saturday and Sunday morning industry workshops and panels. Audiences were engaged by asking questions at the start.ca Q&A sessions and by handing in ballots for the Audience Choice Awards. It was a busy, full and engaging weekend of film with local connections.
Best Short FilmGO FISHDirector: Evan Hamza
Best FeatureLIMINALITYDirector: Darryl Callcott
Best Short Documentary Old Oak Audience Choice Award WinnerREVEALING MARIE SAINT PIERREDirector: Janice Zolf
Best DocumentaryMISSING MOMDirector: Robert McCallum & Jordan Morris
July 2, 7:30 pmThe Twentieth Century (2019)Feature Film
Determined to become the leader of the Dominion of Canada, a young W.L. Mackenzie King rises to power.
A film that follows one survivior and his London-based lawyer as they pursue justice through a public trial in the hopes of forcing the dark and hidden story of clergy sexual abuse to light. Opening Night Screening, and Winner of Best Documentary and the Old Oak Audience Choice Award at FCFF 2019!
A profile of giraffe researcher Anne Dagg who, in 1956, became one of the first people to ever observe and report on animal behaviour. Screened at FCFF 2019, this beautiful documentary was an audience favourite, accompanied with an awe-inspiring on-stage conversation with Anne Dagg.
Take Me To Prom, Dir. Andrew MoirShort Documentary
FCFF Alumnus and SWO filmmaker, Andrew Moir, presents this award-winning short documentary. Revisit the iconic adolescent milestone of Prom through interviews with LGBTQ people ranging in age from 17 to 88.
What Walaa Wants (2018), Dir. Christy GarlandFeature Documentary
Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank, while her mother was in prison, Walaa is determined to survive basic training to become one of the few women on the Palestinian Security Forces - not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules.
Meet the fascinating felines and the people who pamper them in this whimsical look at the ins and outs of Canada’s competitive cat show circuit, where the claws come out when a Turkish Angora and an adorable fluffy red Persian face off to take home the national award for Best in Show. Screened at FCFF 2018.
London animator, Sarah Legault/s collaboration with musician iskwe, this animation recaps the callous and racist way the media covered the murders of two indigenous youth in 2016. Winner of Best Animation at FCFF 2019.
A movie about a play, adapted from a play about a play inspired by real events - phew! To research a play he’s in, an actor takes a job as a labourer on a farm owned by two lifelong friends. Opening Night film and winner of the Best Feature and Old Oak Audience Choice awards at FCFF 2018!
Meet the Mikes in this short about Ontario rock climbers who are passionate about keeping the stoke high while climbing the 200 ft. cliffs on Georgian Bay. See how the Mikes decided to bring the community together and bring up-and-comers to the awe-inspiring cliffs at Lion's Head Provincial Park.
Nests of Gold (2018), Dir. Alan PoonShort Documentary
WInner of Best Short Documentary at FCFF 2018, this is a visual journey following one of the world’s most expensive foods. From its creation in the remote island caves of the Philippines, to its transformation into the legendary Cantonese dish, Bird’s Nest Soup, at a 3 Michelin Star restaurant. This film examines this delicacy and the different lives that are touched by it.
St Louis Superman, Dir. by Sami Khan and Smriti MundhraShort Documentary
Bruce Franks Jr., a Ferguson activist and battle rapper who was elected to the overwhelmingly white and Republican Missouri House of Representatives, must overcome both personal trauma and political obstacles to pass a critical bill for his community. Previously screened at FCFF Film Club in 2020.
OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONSDirector: Bryan Skinner | Producer: Ana de Lara
Synopsis: Open For Submissions is a comedy about a small film festival with big problems. Desmond Baggs, the new film festival Executive Director, must overcome sabotage and betrayal to make sure his film festival isn't destroyed by the festival programmer, the filmmakers, and/or the Canadian Arts Council.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Lead actor Tyler Parr has a strong connection to the Forest City Film Festival, screening his film "Ironied" in its inaugural year.
Points of Interest: Open for Submission's dialogue and actions were entirely improvised by the cast over an 8 day shoot. The film was created from a 30 page scene outline created by director Bryan Skinner and writing partner Stacey Ashworth.
BOYS VS. GIRLSDirector: Mike Stasko | Producer: Mike Stasko, Ted Bezaire
Synopsis: Boys in July. Girls in August. And never the two shall meet. But in 1990, when summer camps around the country were being shut down in record numbers, Camp Kindlewood made the bold yet economically necessary move to turn “co-ed”. Needless to say, the change did not go over well amongst the counsellors, and quickly erupted into a full on battle of the sexes. The camp was soon in ruins, with morale at an all-time low. Can the boys and girls join forces in time to clean up the camp and save it from closing?
Southwestern Ontario connection: Boys vs. Girls is shot in Essex County between Windsor and Kingsville. Most of the crew and some actors are from Windsor.
Points of Interest: The filmmakers are from Windsor. Mike Stasko is also a professor and teaches film at University of Windsor. He formerly taught at Ottawa, Ryerson and Western universities.
DEVIL SEEDDirector: Greg A. Sager | Producer: Dwight Coughlan, Gary Elmer, Geoff Hart, Robbin McDonnell, Greg A. Sager
Synopsis: Alex, a returning college student, has a strange experience at a psychic and wakes up with no memory of what happened. Over time, uncanny and terrifying things begin to happen to her. As her friends become increasingly worried, things take a turn for the worst and she loses control. What is inside her, and will they survive it?
Southwestern Ontario connection: This film was shot in London, most of the crew is from London and area, and many of the actors came from the region.
GOLIATHDirector: Luke Villemaire | Producer: Luke Villemaire, Nathan Dharamshi, Maddy Pilon, Shannon Kook
Synopsis: When Robin Walker (Jessica Sipos) returns home for her father's funeral, she's forced to confront the damaged family she left behind, as well as her own personal demons; resulting in the reveal of an unsettling secret.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Luke Villemaire was born and raised in Kitchener, ON. Industry veteran, Andrea Roth is from Woodstock, ON. Film composer, Spencer Creaghan, and star Jackson Martin are both from London, Ontario.
Points of Interest: GOLIATH was helmed by a group of students and alumni from schools across the GTA.
I'VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGINGDirector: Patricia Rozema | Producer: Patricia Rozema, Don Haig, Alexandra Raffé
Synopsis: Whimsical and absent-minded photographer Polly stirs up trouble at her new gallery job when she falls for boss Gabrielle and tries to show her paintings to the world.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Sheila McCarthy, who stars in the film, is a prominent SWO actress and director Patricia Rozema grew up in Sarnia.
MOUTHPIECEDirector: Patricia Rozema | Producer: Patricia Rozema, Jennifer Shin, Christina Piovesan
Synopsis: Cassandra, who is portrayed by two women, expresses the opposing voices that exist inside the modern woman's head, during a 48-hour period as she tries to organize the affairs for her mother's funeral.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director, Patricia Rozema grew up in Sarnia.
MURMURDirector: Heather Young | Producer: Martha Cooley, Heather Young
Synopsis: An aging, isolated woman ordered to perform community service for a DUI discovers that adopting ailing pets to fill the void in her life can be its own obsession.
TIFF Film Screening
OFFICIAL SECRETSDirector: Gavin Hood | Producer: Ged Doherty, Elizabeth Fowler, Melissa Shiyu Zuo
Synopsis: The untold true story of a British whistleblower who leaked information to the press about an illegal NSA spy operation designed to push the UN Security Council into sanctioning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Sound designer Craig Mann went to Fanshawe College. Mann is the winner of an Academy Award for sound design on Whiplash (2014).
ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF NOAH PIUGATTUKDirector: Zacharias Kunuk | Producer: Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn
Synopsis: Kapuivik, north Baffin Island, 1961. Noah Piugattuk's nomadic Inuit band live and hunt by dogteam, just as his ancestors did when he was born in 1900. When the white man known as Boss arrives in camp, what appears as a chance meeting soon opens up the prospect of momentous change for the community.
TIFF Film Screening
PAIN AND GLORYDirector: Pedro Almodóvar | Producer: Agustín Almodóvar, Ricardo Marco Budé, Ignacio Salazar-Simpson
Synopsis: A film director (portrayed by Antonio Banderas) reflects on the choices he's made in life as the past and present come crashing down around him.
WHEN THE STORM FADESDirector: Sean Yap Sei-Been Devlin | Producer: Shane Supernova
Synopsis: A feature film about the lingering impacts of Typhoon Haiyan, starring real survivors re-enacting some of their experiences in the aftermath of the strongest storm ever recorded.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The filmmakers are from London and Guelph, Ontario, both having studied at Vancouver Film School. Shane is born and raised in London, Ontario, and he started filmmaking at age 8 with a Fisher Price PXL-2000 camcorder out of his grandparents minivan at the African Lion Safari. Shane really started getting into filmmaking at Central H.S. when they introduced media into Tech class. Also studied at Fanshawe College as a super duper senior from 2011-2013 studying Interactive Media Design and Production. Leading him to where he is now as a PMD (Production, Marketing + Distribution) or Impact Producer.
Synopsis: Having become a campus celebrity after a (fictional) cancer diagnosis, a young woman (Kacey Rohl) struggles to maintain her fabrication in this fearless and emotionally affecting new feature by Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis (Amy George, The Oxbow Cure, Spice It Up).
A young woman who has become a literal poster child on her university campus: recently diagnosed with cancer, she's the focal point of an online funding campaign for both herself and other cancer-related causes. The only problem is, it's all built on a lie: Katie isn't sick, and never has been. And as her story slowly begins to unravel, she disastrously decides to double down, unable to give up the real-life fantasy world she's constructed for herself.
While the film has much to say about social media's impact on contemporary culture its chief virtue is its insistence that we look at, and empathize with, a protagonist who does the unthinkable. It's a feat that one rarely sees attempted, let alone succeeded at — but that's only one of the reasons White Lie is one of the most fearless and emotionally affecting films you'll see this year.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The Filmmakers are from the Hamilton region. This film premiered at TIFF this year. The casting was done by a Hamilton company.
PREYDocumentary by Border City Pictures | Director: Matt Gallagher
Winner of the prestigious 2019 Hot Docs Rogers Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Feature and the DGC Special Jury Prize, PREY is a riveting and unflinching account of a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and his civil lawyer as they take on the Catholic Church.
Widespread sexual abuse within the Church has traumatized thousands globally. PREY follows one survivor as he pursues justice through a public trial in the hopes of forcing the dark and hidden story of clergy sexual abuse to light.
The plaintiff in the landmark Canadian court case was abused for years as a boy at the hands of a Catholic priest fifty years ago. His civil lawyer has filed 395 suits against the Church, earning him the nickname “The Priest Hunter”.
The defendants at trial are The Basilians, a Catholic religious order. The abuser makes his presence known in court in the form of a haunting video deposition taken before his death — a taped confession sealed from public view until now.
The trial is not about guilt or innocence, but about how much money the church must pay in compensation for the devastating fallout from the abuse. More importantly, for the plaintiff, it is about exposing the truth of how and why the sexual abuse of children can have gone on for so long without the Church stopping it.
PREY documents one survivor’s efforts to seek justice. A story that echoes thousands of other sexual abuse victims’ stories around the world.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Rob Talach, the lawyer is a London Lawyer. Matt Gallagher, the director, grew up in Windsor. Much of this story takes place in Southwestern Ontario.
FOREST CITY - A DOCUMENTARY FILMDirector: Caroline Nolan | Producer: Caroline Nolan, Red Tale Films Inc.
Synopsis: Witnessing a six-acre forest be clear-cut for houses in London, Canada, from her 12th floor condo, Caroline Nolan explores urban forest issues and family roots.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The inspirational seed for “Forest City” was the clear-cut of a mature forest that Caroline Nolan witnessed from the balcony of her 12th floor condo in the Hyde Park area of London, Ontario. She instinctively began filming what she saw, and eventually a chance connection led her to Wesley Edgar, a London-based photographer/videographer who jumped on board. Many other members of the production are also from the region.
Points of Interest: Caroline thinks it is important to note that many are aware "deforestation" believing that it is something that only happens in the Amazon rainforest and other remote and wild locations such as up north, far away from cities. Yet the reality is that as cities around the world grow, forests are disappearing. Canadians may not realize that more and more valuable forests are being sacrificed for urban growth, right in their own backyards because it is so hard to see the bigger picture, to get that hawk's eye view. That is what is unique about this film, how it originated with being confronted suddenly with Caroline Nolan having to watch a six-acre mature urban forest be clear-cut from start to finish to make way for 66 single-detached family homes from the point of view, if you like, of a Red Tail Hawk. However as more and more people live in urban environments and our cities footprints grow, protecting our urban forests for habitat, human health and climate change resiliency has never been more important. As a silent witness to this urban forest takedown, Caroline Nolan explores the many complex issues related to urban planning and development, and invites viewers to think harder for themselves about what kind of future they believe we should be collectively creating for future generations.
ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BANDDirector: Daniel Roher | Producer: Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Directed by Daniel Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard, the feature documentary follows Robertson from his early life in Toronto and on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, in Southern Ontario, to the creation of legendary roots-rock group The Band. He made music history several times over. He lived the rock star life at its peak. The depth and soul of his songwriting continues to influence countless artists all over the world. And it all started in a little corner of Southern Ontario. Born in Toronto and inspired to make music on the nearby Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, Robbie Robertson is a homegrown icon with a singular story to tell.
Daniel Roher's film draws you right into Robertson's orbit as he recounts his early formation, the talent, hard work, and happy accidents that led to his fame with The Band, and the conflicts that consumed them. "It was a beautiful thing," he recalls. "It was so beautiful it went up in flames." Rare archival images, Robertson's memory for detail, and contributions from friends such as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Martin Scorsese conjure up a glorious era of creativity and excess that can never quite be repeated.
Through it all, the rhythm of Robertson's art hums — the yearning, the focus, and the ability to dig inside himself for lyrics and music that could speak to stadiums. He wrote his first song for Ronnie Hawkins when he was 15. Not 10 years later, he'd already struck up a productive partnership with Bob Dylan, and The Band were recording Music from Big Pink at a secluded country house in Upstate New York. But as The Band reached their creative peak, the seeds of their destruction were growing: egos, jealousies, and various intoxicants began to tear them apart.
Offering unprecedented access to rock history, Once Were Brothers tells the story of one remarkable Canadian's contribution to the music we now call Americana.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Shannon Walsh grew up in London and went to high school at South and at HB Beal and BealArt.
ROOM TO GROWDirector: Jon Garcia & Matt Alber | Producer: Jon Garcia & Matt Alber
Synopsis: For many queer people, some of our toughest years were when we were teenagers living at home. Homophobic parents and school environments often made life unbearable. Now meet the next generation of queer youth, forging a path of love, with the support of their families. In the face of one of the harshest political climates, with homophobia and racism on the rise, these fearless teenagers are claiming their identities and taking the world by storm. This is an intimate documentary look into what it means to be an LGBTQ teen today.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Ayden, one of the protagonists in the documentary has become a close personal friend of Co-Producer/Co-director Matt Alber. Matt is a well known musician as well as a filmmaker and he performed at the Aeolian Theatre in London where he met Ayden and learned of her beautiful story as a queer Native American individual.
THE FACES WE LOSTDirector: Piotr Cieplak | Producer: Piotr Cieplak, Clementine Dusabejambo
Synopsis: The 1994 genocide in Rwanda claimed almost a million lives in just 100 days. The world stood by as men, women and children were being hacked to death by machetes. When the international community finally decided it was time to pay attention, it did so through memorable photographs of mutilated bodies and seas of nameless refugees. But many Rwandans remember their loved ones through images of life, not death: a passport or I.D. card photo, an unguarded snap taken in the garden or a group portrait from a wedding or a baptism. The surviving images are precious objects, with so many destroyed and lost forever. A lot of people have only a solitary image of their loved ones. Many have none at all.
The Faces We Lost follows nine Rwandans (survivors, relatives of victims and professional memory-makers), who guide us through their stories and share their experiences, remembrance and images. It is the first documentary to explore the many functions of these priceless photographs, and one of the few films to engage with Rwandans as users of images, rather than simply their subjects.
The Faces We Lost also explores the professional aspect of memory-making in Rwanda: The Genocide Archive (which holds thousands of original images donated by the victims’ relatives) and the Kigali Genocide Memorial (where many of the photographs are on public display). As the private and the public meet and as each person recounts their relationship with the photographs they have or they wish they had, The Faces We Lost moves to paint a complex memorial landscape of contemporary Rwanda.
THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFESDirector: Alison Reid
Dr. Anne Innis Dagg re-traces the steps of her ground-breaking 1956 journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild. Now, at 85 years old, Anne sees a startling contrast between the world of giraffes she once knew and the one it has become. Weaving through the past and present, her harrowing journey gives us an intimate look into the factors that destroyed her career and the forces that brought her back.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Dagg has lived and worked in Waterloo for many years.
WEEKENDERDirector: Travis Hayden-Rowe | Producer: Eric Green
Synopsis: Featuring interviews from legal, medical and law enforcement experts, Weekender tells the story of Scott Grandy, his addiction, recovery, and time within Canada's justice system.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Travis Hayden-Rowe and producer Eric Green are both Hamilton, Ontario natives, and Mr. Green is a graduate of Western University's UMAJ Journalism program, having previously lived and worked in London. With the exception of the films' primary subject, Scott Grandy, the entirety of the cast and interview subjects are from Southwestern Ontario and Weekender was shot on location across the region.
Points of Interest: The film is an in-depth discussion of the struggles of addiction, both in and of themselves and specifically within the framework of those addicts living within the Canadian justice system.
How many years has 'Who Let The Dogs Out' been stuck in your head? Ruffly 17 years? Or did it pop back in your head just now looking at the song's name after years of blissful silence? Either way, the hook has got staying power. A power that dates back to as early as 1959 and possibly before.
Answering the age old question of who exactly let the dogs out is more complicated than anyone ever thought. Fortunately, Ben Sisto has dedicated seven years to exploring and exposing a story steeped in show business, legal battles, female empowerment, artistic integrity and one very catchy hook.
Sisto, a marketer and cultural programmer for the Ace Hotel in New York, first fell down the rabbit hole in 2010 when he learned it was "Who Let The Dogs Out"'s 10 year anniversary. At the time, its Wikipedia page gave a simple, uncited explanation that the original song was recorded off a parade float by a hairdresser named Keith.
Unemployed at the time, Sisto made his mission of the day to fix that citation. Now, almost a decade later, Sisto has finally pieced together the song's origin...
Southwestern Ontario connection: John Diemer, the writer and sound mixer, grew up in London.
ANDY ASPERGERDirector: Josh Litman | Producer: Daniel Becker & Matt Nordstrom
Synopsis: Persistently rejected by others, an autistic man has to confront his own prejudices after he seemingly meets the perfect companion.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The director, Josh Litman, is from London, Ontario (born and raised), and studied at Western University for his undergrad where he majored in developmental cognitive neuroscience. The sound editor, Alex Di Carlo, is also from London, Ontario.
Points of Interest: The film tackles LGBTQ+ and disability-related issues. Writer/producer/lead actor Daniel Becker not only plays a character with autism, but is diagnosed as on the spectrum himself. Furthermore, his co-star, Johanna Padilla, not only plays a trans character, but is a trans actress herself.
CONTRARYDirector: Dylan Broda | Producer: Cameron Thorpe
Synopsis: Mary, an incredibly lifelike android caretaker, must provide a logical answer for the drowning of her ill ward, Liz.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The director, Dylan Broda, was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. Production occurred in Sarnia and Dylan's hometown, Brights Grove. They intend on bringing more film production back to Sarnia in the near future.
Points of Interest: 1 - The opening shot is entirely CGI 2 - The entire film is shot in Sarnia, ON.
CRAZY KILLER CANNIBAL GIRLSDirector: Robert McGill | Producer: Robbin M. McDonnell
Synopsis: Sisters Emme and Elle like to hunt, lure, and devour men. Have they bit off more than they can chew?
Southwestern Ontario connection: All crew and most of the cast are based in Southwestern Ontario, including writer/director Robert McGill, who lives in London. The film was primarily filmed in London, Ontario.
EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO SAYDirector: Edward Mines | Producer: Sean M Cullen & Edward Mines
Synopsis: A socially-challenged man struggles for control of his voice when an A.I. speech inhibitor threatens to jeopardize his ailing relationships.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Jordan Batchelor, the Director of Photography, was born and raised in Simcoe, Ontario before coming to Sheridan College for the bachelor of film and TV program. He often visits his family back in Simcoe, and currently resides in Etobicoke looking to further his filmmaking career.
GONEDirector: Nicholas Dragas | Producer: Denise Bodan
Synopsis: A woman tries to grapple with the state of her newly damaged marriage.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Nicholas Dragas is proud to call Kitchener, Ontario home. The film was created, written and shot at the unique locations Nicholas and the crew, all of which is from Southwestern Ontario, have come to know and love.
Synopsis: Pressured to keep quiet about a friend’s indiscretion, Harry is forced to deal with his secret head-on when the victim’s sister walks into his shop.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Writer/director Nano Clow grew up in Cambridge, Ontario. The film is inspired by the vast rural scapes, the small towns, the importance of community, and the trouble you can find yourself in within a town where everybody knows everything about you. The film is set in 2006 in Paris, Ontario.
Points of Interest: The film stars Canadian up-and-comer Dylan Schmid of Stephen King's 1922 (Netflix), Snowpiercer (TBS), and Once Upon a Time (ABC) to name a few.
L'DOR V'DORDirector: Michael Tobin | Producer: Michael Tobin, Suzannah Moore, Rosie McGregor
Synopsis: L'Dor V'Dor (Hebrew for From Generation to Generation) is about a father and a son. The father fears his son is losing his religious identity. The son feels his father has lost touch with the modern world and wants him to adapt.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Michael Tobin has a connection to Southwestern Ontario and the film was shot on Port Stanley Beach.
LIMBSDirector: Franci Dimitrovska | Producer: Lief Ramsaran, Andy Reid, Sam Hughes
Synopsis: For every Bert and Ernie, somebody's got to suck it up and play Bert's left arm. Our somebody has had enough.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Franci Dimitrovska grew up in London Ontario. In 2018, she pitched her thesis film, Limbs, at the Forest City Film Festival Pitch Competition and received recognition from Shaftesbury for her project. The film’s head of costume is from Cambridge.
Points of Interest: The film is accumulating several awards. Limbs just had its American premiere at the NYC Chain Film Festival and sold non-exclusive rights to CBC.
MATERNALDirector: Andrew Simpson | Producer: Sedina Fiati
Synopsis: As a young Canadian-born daughter waits for acceptance to her dream arts program, her excitement turns to despondence as time goes on. Her Caribbean mother must make a heart wrenching decision to make sure her daughter escapes the cycle of poverty the two are caught in.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Andrew Simpson lived in London, Ontario and Producer Sedina Fiati graduated from the University of Windsor. Both Andrew and writer Richard Young have had their previous films play at Forest City Film Festival.
Points of Interest: Film Inspiration, as told by Richard Young.
As a South Asian-Canadian artist with Caribbean roots, the premise of Maternal came from my own family discord when I decided to pursue my artistic passion a decade ago, a discord familiar to many diverse artists.
Giving up my previous stable career led to fights and strained relationships. I was hurt and angry with my immigrant parents for attacking my dreams when I needed their support, assuming they were ashamed of me for being true to myself.
Years later, I realized that underneath all their frustrations and anger was LOVE. My parents grew up poor, coming to Canada and sacrificing so their children could have a better life. And it broke their hearts to see their child now struggle in the unstable arts industry because they were powerless to help me. Like many marginalized people, they tried to protect me by dissuading me from my dream because we couldn’t afford the precarious nature of it. For first-generation children whose loving immigrant parents can’t lift them up high enough, aspirations are ironically a privilege.
Maternal is a distillation of my family’s struggle with the arts. Where the absolute love for one’s child and dream that s/he can be anything comes up against the reality of one’s lot in life. I’m honoured that three powerhouse female black artists, actors Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah & Millie Davis as well as producer Sedina Fiati, connected with the story and came on board with director Andrew Simpson to realize this project.
MIDNIGHT MARATHONDirector: Jonah Haber | Producer: Michael Hua and Derek Sutton
Synopsis: When the whole world is hypnotized by an unexplained celestial event, a young boy must face his fear of the unknown.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Lead actor Keegan Hedley lives in and is based in Grimsby. The whole script was written while taking the train from Vancouver to Toronto over the course of 4 days.
NIGHT SHOOTDirector: Penny Eizenga | Producer: Penny Eizenga
Synopsis: An eccentric one-line actor keen to save his characters from extinction uses costumes from past roles to tell their stories.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director/Producer Penny Eizenga lived, worked and raised her family in Southwestern Ontario.
Points of Interest: This is the only time Gordon Pinsent and Sheila McCarthy have ever worked together in all their years of acting.
THAT FUNERAL GLOWDirector: Dylan Mitro | Producer: Adam Craveiro
Synopsis: Fey has just inherited Justine's dog, Benny. The night following Justine's funeral, Fey and Benny face the awkward weight of grief in a Honeymoon suite.
Southwestern Ontario connection: That Funeral Glow is directed by Dylan Mitro, who grew up in London, Ontario. He is very excited to return to his hometown to premiere his first short film. This film is set in small town Ontario and uses this setting to critique the lack of visibility for LGBTQ+ people in rural environments.
Points of Interest: This film is a story of women supporting women, aiming to normalize queer characters and relationships on screen.
TOUCHDirector: Miranda White | Producer: Jesse Crump, David Torres
Synopsis: A nurse discovers that her patient has a dark secret and puts her job on the line to keep the patient safe.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director, Miranda White was raised in Brantford, Ontario. She went to Niagara College to pursue her dream of directing, but always thought of Brantford as her home. Touch was a student film made at Niagara College.
Points of Interest: It was a student film made at Niagara College. It is the directorial debut of Miranda White.
Synopsis: In the near future, a major drought has taken over North America. A major agro-chemical company releases a line of drought resistant seeds, but young journalist Harper believes the seeds have a darker purpose.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Caitee McIntyre grew up in Stratford, Ontario and Unearthed was inspired by farmers from the region. The film was shot in SWO. Through a family friend, Caitee McIntyre was able to shoot half of the film in their “dream location” of an old 1920s farmhouse in Punkydoodles Corners.
TAKE ME TO PROMDirector: Andrew Moir / Producer: Andrew Moir
Synopsis: Queer Canadians retell a moment from their high school prom.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Andrew Moir grew up in Lucan and went to high school in London, Ontario. Andrew Jeffrey, the cinematographer, grew up in Belle River.
EMPTYING THE TANKDirector: Caroline Monnet / Producer: Eric Cinq-Mars
Synopsis: In her striking portrait of Chippewa female mixed martial artist Ashley Nichols, Caroline Monnet eloquently demonstrates and celebrates the athlete's inner strength, fortitude, and dedication to her physical and spiritual health.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Ashley Nichols is from Chippewa of the Thames First Nation.
FOR THE GIRLSDirector: Emma Grunwald / Producer: Mohit Mangtani and Nicole Clark
Synopsis: For the Girls is an observational documentary about the 14 and 15-year-old girls who play for the Etobicoke Dolphins Bantam AA hockey team. Even though there is currently no professional women's league in Canada, most of the Dolphins dream of one day playing hockey at a professional level.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The director of photography, Jansen Otten, is from the London area.
GIRL OF MY DREAMSDirector: Kari Townsend | Producer: Kari Townsend
Synopsis: Told through personal photos, home videos, and original music, Girl of My Dreams is a true account of "unexplained" infertility and a very unexpected outcome.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Girl of My Dreams was written, produced and directed in London, Ontario. It contains personal/family footage and stills taken in London, Lambeth, and Bayfield between 1992 and 2018. The music for the film was composed and recorded locally in 1996-1998 by Kari Townsend and produced by Juno award winner Dan Brodbeck.
Points of Interest: Girl of my Dreams was originally a private gift to my daughter in hopes that it would help her understand how deeply she is loved and how profoundly she changed my life. However, upon seeing the film, my daughter (12 years old at the time) suggested I share the film with others so that its message of hope, perseverance and love could offer comfort and encouragement to others. The response has been incredible. I have received messages from so many hopeful parents, adoptive parents and adopted adults - all of whom have expressed thanks for the meaningfulness of the film's message. This has been the greatest reward.
GRAVITYDirector: Laura Diaz-Martinez | Producer: Jiacheng Xu
Synopsis: This portrait documentary captures Amy Shackleton's brushless technique, which has led her into the Canadian art scene with uniques city scenes that combine urban elements and nature. A process that will squeeze your creativity.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Laura Diaz-Martinez is a Student of Advanced Filmmaking from Fanshawe College.
Points of Interest: Amy Shackleston is a Canadian artist that has been developing her own brushless painting technique during the past ten years, and she has got to a very successful point in her career.
GREAT LAKES SURFERSDirector: Donnie Ivey | Producer: Donnie Ivey
Synopsis: A look into the unique local scene of surfers who ride the waves of our Great Lakes, chasing weather patterns and braving the harsh weather conditions to catch some epic swells.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Donnie Ivey is from London Ontario and the entire crew were students at Fanshawe College's Advanced Filmmaking Program.
ICONS OF SOULDirector: George Tsioutsioulas | Producer: Luke McMaster
Synopsis: Through the art of musical collaboration, Icons Of Soul investigates the process by which Lamont Dozier, a giant of Motown, created and delivered legendary songs and monster hit records.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Co-stars and writing partners Arun Chaturvedi and Luke McMaster live in Southwestern Ontario, as does the director George Tsioutsioulas . Being close to Detroit, there is a really strong connection to Motown that tugged at the musicians’ heartstrings and led them to Lamont Dozier.
Points of Interest: Before Icons Of Soul, there was no real documentary of note about Lamont Dozier. Along with Smokey Robinson and Barrie Gordie, he was one of the architects of the Motown sound and his story and talent are spellbinding.
IMARADirector: Samuel Wanjohi | Producer: Samuel Wanjohi
Synopsis: Imara tells the story of an ambitious passionate cyclist whose dreams of being a world champion in the sport live on despite his condition of having one leg left to race with.
JASON RIP: A TOMBSTONE EPITAPHDirector: Matthew Downs | Producer: Faith Clark
Synopsis: A profile of renowned London playwright, Jason Rip who has written and produced 81 plays so far and who shows no signs of slowing down.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Jason Rip is a London playwright. Directed by London-raised filmmaker Matthew Downs.
MATSUTAKE HUNTERSDirector/Producer: Shannon Walsh
Synopsis: The forest holds many mysteries. We follow some unique foragers as they hunt for the elusive and highly prized Japanese Matsutake mushroom, also known as the Pine Mushroom, in Northern British Columbia. Surprisingly, it is on formerly logged, second growth forests that the rare Matsutake flourish. Because of their high value in Japan, a unique human and non-human ecosystem, and economy, has emerged here in Northern Canada.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Shannon Walsh grew up in London and went to high school at South and at HB Beal and BealArt.
ONE OF 100Director: Yulia Starostina | Producer: Joel Parker
Synopsis: “One of 100” is a short documentary film about a 3-years old girl who was diagnosed with a very rare disease. At the time of diagnosis, she was one of 100 worldwide. Her name is Alice, and she is a BPAN warrior.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Yulia Starostina and the crew are students at Fanshawe and One of 100 is the story of a girl who lives in London, Ontario.
Synopsis: A nuanced approach to documenting the changing landscape with the addition of wind turbines and the relationship between the people living and working near them.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director/Producer Erin MacIndoe Sproule lives in Guelph, Ontario and spent much of their childhood visiting family in London, Ontario. Additionally, one of the main characters, Joseph Dunlop Addley, is a former professor of the Fanshawe filmmaking program in London, Ontario. The film takes place in the Bruce Peninsula and Niagara region.
Synopsis: Danovia Stechishin has helped keep Ukrainian culture alive in Canada by collecting traditional pieces from Ukraine and bringing them to Canada for new generations.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Rediscovered and Shared was made by London based filmmakers and was filmed in Toronto.
Points of Interest: Ukrainian/Ukrainian Canadian culture (mainly oral), hand-stitched embroidery, survival of an oppressed culture under the USSR, original illegal 8mm film from subject in Ukrainian mountains.
STEALING THE SOULDirector: Yulia Starostina | Producer: Joel Parker
Synopsis: Short documentary about amazing photographer Jim Kost, who is one of only a few using old style Wet Collodion Process.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Rediscovered and Shared was made by London based filmmakers and was filmed in Toronto.
Points of Interest: Director Yulia Starostina and the crew are Fanshawe students and the main character lives and photographs in London, ON.
THE DAY DON DIEDDirector: Sean Horlor & Steve J. Adams | Producer: Sean Horlor, Steve J. Adams, Ana Carrizales
Synopsis: When a condo community learns of a neighbour's death, the dramatic retelling of his disappearance and demise takes on a life of its own. Each version of the story sounds stranger than the last until an Easter Monday revelation takes everyone by complete surprise.
Set in a retirement community for aging artists and entertainers, the 13-min film blends documentary interviews, musical performances, and true crime vignettes to explore the bizarre events surrounding Don’s death.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The film’s main subject, Don Stewart, was born and raised in Amherstburg, Ontario. His family still resides in the area and will be attending the festival.
ISKWĒ - LITTLE STARDirector: Sarah Legault | Producer: Sarah Legault
Synopsis: "The song and video recap the callous and racist way the media covered the murders of two Indigenous youth, 15-year-old Tina Fontaine in 2014 and 22-year-old Colten Boushie in 2016."
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director/animator Sarah Legault is from London Ontario and footage was filmed in London Ontario. The film’s musician is from Hamilton, Ontario.
CYBERSPACE PIRATESDirector: Andrew Komer | Producer: Andrew Komer
Synopsis: Set in a world where people live inside giant '90s computers, a group of Cyberspace Pirates seek out to steal 'technological artifacts' of their world.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Andrew Komer is a Canadian Storyboard Artist born and raised in London, Ontario. He currently works in Toronto's animation industry, and is dedicated to creating original series. He first started out by self-publishing his own graphic novel Chicken Man, a superhero-comedy inspired by his childhood in London, and now venturing into animation with his newest project Cyberspace Pirates.
Points of Interest: The film is a 3D and 2D hybrid animation making used of open source software such as Blender, and was created to help push for the creation of more original Canadian animated series.
Synopsis: A young shepherd boy frees a panicked, trapped horse, only to find out why it was shackled in the first place.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Dani Bittner made her short film Kelpie during her last year at Sheridan College's Animation program. She initially went to school for Architecture in Toronto, but left after a couple years in order to follow her true passion for animation.
Points of Interest: Dani Bittner single handedly made this Animated film. She did everything from the design and storyboards, to the animation and compositing. The only things that she did not do herself were the music/sound, and the character's colors, which were done by a couple of Dani's friends in order to lighten the load of making a film.
WHAT I SEE IN YOUDirector: Megan Lawless | Producer: Sheridon
Synopsis: A father and daughter inspire each other to follow their passions.
Southwestern Ontario connection: This is a film about the animator’s grandfather and mother, who grew up in Kingston, Ontario.
Points of Interest: The animator’s grandfather wrote and composed the music.
Synopsis: On a cold winter night, boy was chased by a ghost...
Southwestern Ontario connection: Sheridan College Animation.
LITTLE BLACK DRESSDirector: Mackenzie Donaldson
Synopsis: Sally is on a mission to fund the perfect dress, as she recalls memories of her mother.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Mackenzie Donaldson is from the region, as is star Sheila McCarthy.
FIRECRACKERSDirector: Jasmin Mozaffari
Synopsis: Two best friends’ plan to escape their destitute town becomes derailed when the consequences of a night of debauchery begins to dismantle their friendship and threatens their chance at freedom.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Actor Callum Thompson is from London and the film was partially shot here and in the surrounding area.
NESTS OF GOLDDirector: Alan Poon
Synopsis: A visual journey of one of the most expensive foods in the world, and the danger young men in the Philippines go to for birds nest soup, coveted at expensive restaurants.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Alan Poon is from London.
Synopsis: Raised in a refugee camp in the West Bank, while her mother was in prison, Walaa is determined to survive basic training to become one of the few women on the Palestinian Security Forces - not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. An intimate POV, this is the story of a young woman navigating formidable obstacles, learning which rules to break and follow.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Christy Garland is from London.
Synopsis: Miles arrives in rural Ontario at the home of two aging bachelor farmers. He stays with them to gather stories about rural life for a play he is writing. Their lives are irrevocably altered when art attempts to imitate life and the line between truth and fiction is blurred.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Filmed in Huron County adapted from a Play that was first produced at Blythe Festival, by a writer who lives in this region.
Synopsis: By Gordon Pinsent. Martin, a middle-aged despondent writer, is burdened with Hagge, his wily personification of anxiety and depression, but after freewheeling Norah encroaches on his workspace, he learns apathy is a choice.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Penny Eizenga.
Synopsis: While struggling with the death of her mother and the loss of a privileged life, a frustrated young woman attempts to reclaim her happiness which she believes is attached to a beloved unicorn paddleboat that her father was forced to sell to her nemesis.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Produced by Penny Eizenga, a long time London resident who now lives and works in the film industry in Toronto.
Synopsis: Delroy, a migrant worker, has spent his life working in the Ontario tobacco belt to support his family in Jamaica. Goodbyes are ritual but Delroy has a secret - he has cancer. Though his health declines, He continues to work, shielding his family from the inevitable. Babe, I Hate To Go is an intimate film about a man coming to terms with his mortality.
Southwestern Ontario connection: Director Andrew Moir grew up in SWO.
Synopsis: Sea of Life leads audiences through the stunning world of coral reefs into the heart of the environmental movement, meeting passionate scientists, activists and explorers who reveal an enormous opportunity to rise up and become the heroes the world needs.
Southwestern Ontario connection: The filmmaker is from Burlington.
Synopsis: A Rocketmon card has been stolen and it's up to Colt Magnum, detective extraordinaire, to crack the case! Who could have committed such a heinous crime?
Southwestern Ontario connection: Created at Sheridan College in Oakville.
CLEARING THE WAYDirector: Paul Culliton
Synopsis: The true story of 23 Field Squadron, Canadian Combat Engineers in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, 2006-2007
Southwestern Ontario connection: Producer/Director, Paul Culliton lives in London. Author & Principle Character, Col. Mark Gasparotto grew up in London. Film Crew all from London. 90% of the film was shot, edited, post production in London & St. Thomas.