While the 17th annual Powell River Film Festival will feature international offerings with films from Switzerland, the US and France among its showings, a film with proudly local associations will be front and centre.
One of this year’s highlights is the feature film Kayak to Klemtu, directed by Zoe Hopkins, with actors Ta’Kaiya Blaney and Evan Adams from Tla’amin Nation.
Festival executive director Gary Shilling said he’s especially enthusiastic about all the local components that went into the making of the film.
“Kayak to Klemtu was produced, in part, in Powell River and had some crew from the Powell River Digital Film School," said Shilling. "The film is beautifully shot in Desolation Sound and beyond."
The theme of this year’s festival, taking place February 12 to 18, is “identity” and the selection of films are meant to reflect this, according to Shilling.
“In these times of strife and conflict, having a strong sense of self is a great way to navigate through all the uncertainty,” he said.
Festival treasurer and venue host Ann Nelson, co-owner of The Patricia Theatre, where all of the films will screen, said changes to the festival this year are what excite her most. New for 2017 is a matinee series which Nelson describes as a “festival within the festival.”
Also, the process for selecting films was much more hands on this time, said Nelson.
“We have broken away from a formulaic menu provided by the festival film circuit," said Nelson. "We’ve built our own program this year and we’ve used independent filmmakers for a lot of it.”
In addition to the films, several events will coincide with them, from a video art installation at The Art Centre above the Powell River Public Library, to a live poetry slam and DJ performance.
“There’s going to be something for everybody,” said Lee Coulter, chair of Friends of Film Society of Powell River, who organize the festival. “There’s also going to be some partying going, on so it’s going to be a wonderful week.”
According to Shilling, the six-day event attempts to incorporate all aspects of a successful film festival.
"We try to make it a full on festival type experience with good food, entertainment, fabulous films; a place for people to get together and enjoy this entertainment and go away learning something,” said Shilling.
When it comes to choosing what films to view, Shilling said he urges people to take a chance on something they wouldn’t usually watch.
“If they’ve never seen anything beyond a film that has a superhero, Disney character or a big Hollywood star, I urge them to step out of their comfort zone a little bit," he said. "All of these films were chosen by a selection committee that included filmmakers and film viewers to try and have something that appeals to everyone.”
Nelson said one of the most rewarding things is to see The Patricia Theatre filled to capacity.
“To see the theatre full of happy, excited people is exciting to us because it feels like its purpose is fulfilled,” said Nelson.
Tickets for Powell River Film Festival are available online and at a kiosk in Town Centre Mall. For more information, go to prfilmfestival.ca.