Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Inaugural Niagara Integrated Film Festival to take place June 19-22, 2014

Peter Sellers’ worked with Mordecai Richler? See it and believe it.
The Vault to Lost Film Treasures is Opened As Toronto Film Fest Founder
Bill Marshall turns Niagara Region into Summer Cinema Central

(photos by Allan Tong)

They once were lost, but now they’re found. And the inaugural Niagara Integrated Film Festival has them! The hugely-anticipated event from Toronto International Film Festival founder, Bill Marshall, kicks off June 19-22 with some incredible recently-uncovered featured programs.

Among them: two short films from the ‘50s – a combination of sketch-comedy and sitcom - starring a pre-Pink Panther Peter Sellers and written by Canada’s Mordecai Richler, and one of the earliest silent films with Mary Pickford, the Canadian-born “America’s Sweetheart.”

The Sellers/Richler films, Dearth Of A Salesman and Insomnia Is Good For You, and the 1911 Pickford film Their First Misunderstanding (in an expanded program of Pickford movies), highlight this first-ever film celebration in the Niagara region – along with a series of great home-grown short films that have been featured at Cannes, and some remarkable gala premieres.

The Sellers/Richler collaboration - including negatives, titles, show prints, outtakes and master print – sat on a shelf for years after the 1996 bankruptcy of London’s Park Lane films before their recent rediscovery by Stephen Podgorney, Robert Farrow and Paul Cotgrove of Dimwittie Ltd. Canadian filmmaking legend Ted Kotcheff will be on hand to present anecdotes and provide context for this mystifying collaboration, along with Robert Farrow.

Both the unearthed features have “discovery” stories worthy of a movie themselves. The Pickford film, made with her then-husband Owen Moore, was discovered in a New Hampshire barn in 2006 and painstakingly restored. Christel Schmidt, considered the world’s leading authority on Pickford, will present the program, along with Keene State film professor Larry Benaquist.

Gala premieres include the world premiere of Restrung, Mike Enns’ portrait of Randall Wyn Fullmer (a Disney artist/animator/producer who gave it all up to handcraft bass guitars); the animated feature Ribbit (featuring the voices of Sean Astin and Russell Peters); Ira Sachs’ gay-marriage drama Love Is Strange, with Marisa Tomei, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina; Emilio Aragon’s A Night in Old Mexico starring Robert Duvall; the Belle and Sebastian female vocalist project God Help The Girl; More Than Honey (about the worldwide plight of bees), and Jason Lupish (director) and Erica Sherwood’s (actor) made-in-Niagara drama A Kind Of Wonderful Thing, about a cancer-diagnosed woman who contrives to hide her health crisis from her family; the North American premiere of the Swedish Blockbuster The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared directed by Felix Herngren; Red Obsession a wine doc featuring Russell Crowe about the struggle of the Bordeaux Chateaux to keep up with insatiable Chinese demand; and the much anticipated epic sci-fi flick Earth To Echo directed by Dave Green will debut at NIFF and will surely take family viewing to a whole other level.

The Canadians-at-Cannes shorts, curated by Danny Lennon, include Kyle Thomas’ The Post, about a young RCMP constable in rural Alberta during WWII, Moira Sauer’s The Provider, about a woman struggling through a Yukon winter with only sled dogs for company and The Sparkling River, Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael’s film about a lonely farmer’s encounter with a lost Chinese tourist. It’s the first post-Cannes screening for all these films.

These are just some of the NIFF highlights. But we can’t leave out the unforgettable marriage of gastronomy and cinema, as world-class regional chefs inaugurate Filmalicious, a dinner and movie program, where a winery will host a special dinner followed by a movie. As well, the Niagara Film Feast program incorporates four wineries, each of which hosts a wine-and-food pairing tasting along with a selection of short films. Film Feast includes transportation to and from each winery.

“Just as TIFF is unique to Toronto,” says NIFF Executive Director Bill Marshall, “NIFF will translate Niagara to the world as a destination of fine cuisine, stellar wineries and spectacular film festival experiences.”

The World’s Smallest Film Festival, is a competition of films shot on smart-phones, with an inaugural theme of water, an integral aspect of the Niagara Region. To get more info, and to submit a film, please visit the website www.niagarafilmfest.com

St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Twenty Valley will star - as all the action takes place within these areas. There will be films screened at the Landmark Cinemas in St. Catharines, and the wineries along with the host hotel, White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake will have special Gala nights, plus an outdoor Drive-In.

And – parties being de rigueur for film festivals - there will be plenty, including Market Square in St. Catharines and Outlet Mall and the wineries at Niagara-on-the-Lake.

"We wish Bill nothing but the best of luck on his new endeavour. TIFF owes so much to his tenacity, drive, and singular ability to make things happen. I'm sure NIFF will be a smashing success and I look forward to seeing you all in Niagara.” Piers Handling, Director/CEO TIFF

“After much work behind the scenes, I’m pleased NIFF (Niagara Integrated Film Festival) is officially launching,” said St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan. “A film festival in Niagara will bring action to the big screen and is a great way to further enhance the arts while promoting our local wine, culinary delights and warm hospitality.” Mayor Brian McMullan (St. Catharines)

"The prospect of having the Niagara Integrated Film Festival in the region is tremendously exciting. And this destination is proud to roll out the red (or purple or sparkling) carpet to welcome the thousands of visitors who will revel in the unique experience of a Film Festival in wine country. We know these will be memorable, award-winning film presentations, but the first award of the event must go to Bill Marshall and Sari Ruda for the creative and intelligent energy they have devoted to their love affair with films and integration with the wine and culinary highlights of this area. Their vision for the world's juiciest film festival will be proudly supported and brought to life here in Niagara." Janice Thomson, Executive Director, Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake

The Niagara Integrated Film Festival is very grateful to our core sponsors without whose vision delivering this festival would have been a very difficult task in Year One. Founding Corporate Sponsors: RBC, Royal Bank of Canada, AGF, Orbixa Technologies Ltd. Founding Government Sponsors: the Government of Ontario and the City of St Catharines. As well we would like to thank Coventry Connections, Deloittes, and the Performing Arts Centre, St Catharines. Our Founding Media Sponsors: Bell Media, Cineplex Media, Global Television and Sun Media Niagara. And a profound thank you to our generous partners for their support: Beyond Digital Imaging, Brock University, Buffalo's Spree Magazine, Devon Group, Dorian & Associates Ltd, The Festivals Channel, Fuelled Minds, Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, Holiday Inn St Catharines, International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration, Landmark Cinemas, Luminato Festival, Martin Ross Group Inc., Niagara Artists Council, Niagara College, Niagara Wine Festival, Niagara on the Lake Visitors Guide, Project Tech, Ravine Vineyards, Shaw Festival, Silversmith Brewery, Southbrook Vineyards, St Catharines City Guide, The Good Earth Food & Wine co, Toronto International Film Festival, Tourism Partnership of Niagara Magazine, Trius Winery Twenty Valley Tourism Association and White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa.

Box Office Info
Regular movie ticket - $15
Gala - $50 (includes cocktail reception)
Filmalicious - $125-175 depending on the venue.
Film Feast - $125
All Tickets can be purchased online at www.niagarafilmfest.com

About NIFF
The Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) is a film festival that aims to shine a cinematic spotlight on the Niagara Region's extraordinary beauty while showcasing over 100 top shelf independent films from across the world. NIFF is run by an expert team of film festival managers, led by Bill Marshall, Founder and Chair Emeritus of TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), the world's most successful public film festival. www.niagarafilmfest.com

About Bill Marshall
In 1976 Marshall co-founded and was the first director of the Toronto International Film Festival. Since 1980 he has been active on the Festival's board as Chairman Emeritus. In 1977, he developed the City of Toronto's Film and Television Office, was President of the Canadian Association of Motion Picture Producers and was instrumental in forming the Academy of Canadian Film and Television in 1979. Marshall has produced 13 feature films in Canada, including the major hit Outrageous, over 200 documentaries and public service films, and in 1995 New World’s Eve the first all-star world-wide 24-hour television special dedicated to raising environmental awareness. Currently he has several movies and TV properties in development. In 2005 he authored Film Festival Confidential. He has also been Chief of Staff to three Toronto mayors, worked on Royal Tours, Papal visits and was chief Toronto planner for the 1988 G7.

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