Turning the spotlight to Niagara

By: Matthew Von LukawieckI- Staff Writer

It’s pretty safe to say that just about everyone living in southern Ontario has heard of the Toronto International Film Festival. Therefore, when a new film festival comes on the horizon, it is definitely worth paying attention to.

Bill Marshall, co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 1976, is now starting a new venture in the film industry. His new project is the Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) set to take place this June. So far the venture has received support from a number of wineries in the region as well as the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce and the City of St. Catharines. Support from the wineries is integral to Marshall’s plans for the festival since it is meant to integrate the defining characteristics of the region into the festivities, which in Niagara’s case are wineries and tourist attractions.

Although the City of St. Catharines has pledged to support the festival with $25,000 there is still need for more financial assistance. There is currently an Indiegogo campaign set up for the festival in hope that they too can raise $25,000 by the end of January. The festival is estimated to achieve a budget of $1 million but the actual costs of the festival will likely exceed that figure.

As a result of financial worries, some are becoming doubtful of the festival’s success. After all, a large portion of running events such as TIFF and this new venture is based solely on financing. However, there is evidence that these doubts may be misplaced. When Marshall and the other co-founders of TIFF were starting out plenty of people doubted their success and now TIFF is considered to be the second most important film festival in the world.

Festivals like these two give all varieties of filmmakers an opportunity to showcase their work to new audiences. Being able to reach an audience with their work and recieving commendation for it is the biggest advantage. This will open the Niagara region to the same film opportunities as Toronto which would be a huge development for the region. Unfortunately, celebrities aren’t likely to start making appearances at the event for a few years while it gets established in the film scene.

The festival is said to have similar programs to its Toronto counter-part but the key event is going to be the world premiere of a recently discovered Mary Pickford silent film which will be played along with other classic films of hers.

If TIFF is any indication then NIFF is bound to be a sure fire success. The event will be taking place in various venues across the Niagara region this summer from June 19 to June 22 and is shaping up to be an event not to be missed by any film buff or enthusiast.

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