Annual film festival now an international competition

By Lindsay Ducharme

Since its creation, interPLAY has had the unique ability to capture the attention of entire Wood Buffalo community. This year it’s profile is set to expand far beyond the municipality thanks to expansion of its annual film festival, now an international competition. The Fort McMurray International Film Festival, formerly the interPLAY Film Festival, will combine all the elements of the festival fans have come to know and love, however, this year the Film Fest will also be actively seeking international entries.

“The only difference in the festival is that we have grown more. We are going to be using a different submission system, which is new for us; it’s called Without a Box. It’s a place where international filmmakers go to enter their projects into different festivals around the world and we are a part of it now,” explained event organizer and co-founder Toddske.

“It’s already brought in quite a few entries already since our soft launch a month ago, without even doing any promo we already have over 25 entries. We did the official call for submissions at the press conference. We are looking forward to having really good conversations and great screening of lots of submissions at our festival this year,” he continued.

The expanded festival was announced at a press conference on April 4th. Toddske said event organizers are thrilled to finally officially announce the festival updates. When the festival was created four years ago, Toodske along with fellow co-founder Tito Guillen, had always planned to expand the competition to an international event.

“It’s our fourth year this year. The Fort McMurray Film Makers Association is sponsoring it and has been for the last two years. We love to see the growth and we want to see the younger generation get into the mindset that movies are great to watch, but they are even better to make yourself if you want to tell your own story,” Toodske said.

“We have always had more submissions each year than the previous year, and we like to see the constant growth. The only goal we have for this year is to hopefully see more local entries and participation. It’s been great so far so it can only get better. We would like to see more local filmmakers submit their projects into the film festival as well as participating in the 48-hour film challenge.”

Those considering entering the festival will have many avenues to do so. The Fort McMurray International Film has numerous categories for short films under 45 minutes, feature films over 45 minutes, music video categories, animation, and documentaries. In addition, there is also an experimental category Toddske explained is “for any movie that doesn’t fit into a category or belongs to more than one.”

While an international competition is bound to bring in more diverse entries, Toddske stressed that local participation in the festival remains the cornerstone of the event. In fact, in an effort to increase local participation event organizers have involved a new award in this year’s festival, the Local Spirit Award, to be given to the best film in the festival by a local artist.

“It will be really high caliber of films this year. We have always accepted international films but this is going to be the first year that we are really going to promote the aspect as well. We feel like if we bring in international talent and showcase it here it can really inspire people to become more involved in filmmaking. You never know what film might trigger that creative process,” Toddske noted.

For more information on the Fort McMurray International Film Festival follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ymmiff) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ymmiff) using the hashtag #YMMiFF.