Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fort McMurray, Films, and Pride - YMM interPLAY Film Festival

Regular readers of this blog know a few things about me. They know I admire qualities like vision, and passion, and drive. They know I admire individuals who follow their dreams and ideas, who are brave and bold enough to grasp an idea and see it through to the finish. And likely they know that I admire the creative process, whether it involves fibre artists to musicians to artists. What they likely don't know is that when all these things come together in my own little community I tend to bust out in overwhelming (almost embarrassing) pride, so deeply proud of the members of my community with the qualities I admire. This pride surfaced again on the weekend when I attended the YMM interPLAY Film Festival, hosted by Toddske and Tito of YMMPodcast and in conjunction with Events Wood Buffalo.

Toddske and Tito are young members of this community I consider friends. In fact we started our respective journeys, they with their podcast and I with this blog, at almost the same time. One of the very first emails I sent as "McMurray Musings" was to Toddske (back when the concept was to write this blog anonymously, an idea he and I still laugh about to this day since that concept lasted approximately two weeks before I realized it was impossible to do). To say I am "fond" of Toddske and Tito is likely the understatement of the year. They have become, in my mind, family. I admire them both so much, both of them working at their careers but also running the podcast, doing film festivals, Tito making films (and Toddske occasionally appearing in those films), and otherwise doing everything they can to show their story of life in Fort McMurray. So when they organize an event you can bet I will be there front and centre to support because these two men show the passion, vision, and drive I admire, along with a commitment to seeing an idea through, and they too embrace the creativity that I delight in. They are not only family to me - they are family of which I am deeply, deeply proud.

So, when they hosted their second annual interPLAY Film Festival I knew I would be there. On Sunday night the festival wrapped up with the final showing of independent short films, as well as the entries in the 48-hour film challenge. Now, I love the short films, submitted to them from all over the world, and Sunday night was no different, with little films like "Shinny" capturing my heart. But in all honestly it was the 48-hour challenge entries I came to see, because these films are from local people who have committed 48 hours of their time to write, cast, film, and edit a short for competition. These are not professional film-makers - some have never made a film before. And to do so in 48 hours pretty much blows my mind, since as a writer I sort of understand the creative process and sometimes in the first 48 hours of a new project all I do is consume dozens of cups of coffee and stare at a blank screen. To see the results, to see eight films (eight, double the entries of last year!) and to see local talent shine - well, to say I was proud is yet another understatement. I am very glad the theatre was quite dark, as then no one could see the tears that formed in my eyes as the eight films unrolled on the screen before me.

The eight films were as different as those who made them, each one reflecting the individuality of the film-makers. I was a bit astonished when I realized I recognized every single name of those who made or starred in a film, and was even more thrilled when I realized that I call several of them my friends. To see the hard work of my friends on a screen was past exciting for me. I know many people were excited that night about some landing on Mars or something, but for me nothing could beat the pure joy and excitement of seeing my friends introduce their films, to see them as they took the stage to talk about their creative process (a process that in this case saw some friends enjoying a visit from the local RCMP, while others took a trip to the Emergency Room after film-related accidents).

There is something to be said about every single film, but some truly stand out for me, too. My friend and occasional guest blogger ashcakesquiggle, as she is known on Twitter, submitted a lovely little short that was funny and cute and showed some of my very favourite places in this city, including the coffee shop where this blog has often been written. My friend Kelton Stepanowich submitted a very funny little piece starring his friend Dilbar, and when it won the challenge I was not at all surprised. The Intrepid Junior Blogger, who accompanied me to the film festival (and loved it, incidentally) was very taken with the film from Misty Oakes, and lines from that film are still being tossed around in my house (such as when she tosses something at me and says "I just proved my existence to you"). There were others, too, several other films from people like Eric Janvier and Nolan Haukeness and Alex Rushdy. There was one film, though, that brought tears to my eyes, and it was a very simple little film from a young woman named Carli Gaudet. It started in a way that troubled me, but then it took a turn, took the 48-hour challenge theme of "A New Beginning", and made me cry as it reflected all that I believe to be good and wonderful about our community. It is a lovely little film in every sense, and once again I felt that sense of pride that starts somewhere in my head and then pretty much comes bursting out of my chest as I simply cannot contain it.

So. Two podcasters, a film festival, local film makers, a community, and a blogger with an enormous sense of pride in everyone involved. What does that all mean, people? It means we have a creative community here that I believe rivals that found in any community. But it means more, too. It means we have people like Toddske and Tito who do things like the film festival simply for the joy of doing it, for the betterment of the community, and to celebrate creativity and the arts. It means we have now seen the second year of a film festival that I believe will continue to grow and spread, gaining popularity and momentum. It means we have local film makers with enormous talent, and we have people who have never even made a film who decide to give it a try, producing astonishing results. It means we have a community who supports the creative process, those involved in it, and those who bring it to us through things like film festivals. And it means you have a little blogger who sometimes sits in a dark theatre and cries a little bit with sheer pride over all those things, and over her tremendous good fortune to be a witness to it all. And that very lucky, very proud,  and occasionally very tearful blogger would be me, of course.

My genuine and sincere thanks to
Toddske and Tito
of YMMPodcast
for taking on things like organizing a film festival -
and for becoming my family.

My sincere thanks to
Events Wood Buffalo
for partnering with YMMPodcast
to allow the creativity found here and around the world 
to be seen on a screen right here in our community.

And finally my deepest thanks to
the 48-hour challenge film competitors.
You showed me once again
what this community is truly about.
Where possible I am including links
 or videos of your films below - simply
because I am so bloody proud of
every single one of you, and
I want everyone who reads this blog to see your work!

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