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FIN Stream presents a different film festival medium, with same selection pedigree

FIN Executive Director Wayne Carter says no one could have known in January the changes that would come for their 40th festival plans
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Nothing about the road to this year’s FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival has been ordinary.

As FIN Executive Director Wayne Carter made his opening remarks, he did so through a computer screen. Everything about FIN this year is virtual, and yet, there will still be 114 films for aficionados to binge.

“To say 2020 has been an unusual year has been an understatement,” said Carter at the top of his speech.

He discussed that no one could have known in January the changes that would come for their 40th festival plans.

“We had no clue it would take the form it has, but nothing inspires innovation and growth like a challenge,” he said. Referring to the fact the FIN STREAM program has made content available all over the Atlantic Provinces this year, he called the newfound reach of the festival a “silver lining” under the dark clouds.

This year’s festival is uniquely Atlantic Canadian – it’s geoblocked to the four Atlantic Canadian provinces only – and features a heavy slate of fare from the area.

Bannon Braga’s Books Of Blood – based on the Clive Barker horror fiction collection – was shot in Nova Scotia, as well as Haligonian Taylor Olson’s directorial debut Bone Cage. Jason Arsenault’s Wharf Rats hails from Prince Edward Island, and those are just a few of the films from all around Atlantic Canada featured.

“The film festival prides itself on being the champion and voice for all things Atlantic Canadian. We are pleased at the Atlantic Canadian short films too. Little Orphans certainly gives you an insight to family around weddings, and what that implies. It’s incredibly Newfoundland,” he said.

“William MacGillivray’s Under The Weather is a poignant and moving piece. The lead actress is the director of Little Orphans. Ruth Lawrence is taking over FIN Stream on the weekend. Then we also landed Books Of Blood – it’s produced by Americans, but utilized Nova Scotian film crew and shot around here. It’s so cool to see Barrington Street in a horror film. Clive Barker is a legend, and he’s on the same bookshelf as Stephen King as godfathers of modern horror.”

The Opening Night Gala is Falling, Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut, and the closing Cannes favourite Another Round – starring Hannibal actor Mads Mikkelsen. This year also features East Coast Shorts from all over the Atlantic Provinces, the sequel The New Corporation, Christopher Walken in Percy, documentaries Cured and Nail In The Coffin, and so much more.

Carter said mid-March gave rise to concerns due to COVID-19, and up until mid-May they considered a hybrid festival. But with consultation with Public Health, they decided not to do live events.

“I sit here in the middle of August, and I’m confident from our perspective we did the right thing. It’s hard to celebrate with social distancing and crowd limits. I was concerned FIN might become a cluster outbreak, and I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if that happened,” he said.

“We spent June, July and August investigating how to make this the best it could be, and now we want people to log on and watch movies ... We want to showcase films and let people have a good experience.”

Some of the offerings will be more challenging to do, but some will be more rewarding for FIN.

“We are thinking maybe being online will open some doors. Bringing someone in virtually rather than in town could be easier. We want to bring partners to this event that bring the excitement and audience to the event,” he said. “We want people to actively be a part of the festival, including our partners.”

“We will be back next year in our former glory, but FIN Stream is here to stay as well. There will be changes next year to ensure virtual content is available to Atlantic Canadians.”

With the titles all locked down, Carter and the team are working on content surrounding the films.

“I’d be lying if I said we weren’t doing something new to us and our audience, but we want to make sure our audience enjoys it … We want people to take the plunge. Our supplemental content will go down some very interesting content, just like our films.”

FIN’s Programming Director Jason Beaudry says there was a lot of undecided things going on through the months.

“We came to the determination of what this needed to be in June. We knew we needed a smaller program, and it would be online,” he said.

“This would provide access to new moviegoers – we wanted the same blend with primary emphasis on Atlantic Canadian films while getting international films and striving for gender parity. We wanted people from all walks of life to be able to enjoy our offerings.”

He said it took more care, as they were working with a little bit less, but they are confident with the films selected.

“We are so pleased with the results, and it represents what this festival is about, and there are some incredible films,” he said.

“Whether it’s the documentary program that goes across the world to some of the most standout films we’ve seen in a decade from Atlantic Canada. We have some top-tier Hollywood talent and then some more intimate films with a smaller crew. It really runs the gamut.”

Beaudry hopes people take a chance on FIN Stream this year.

“We are trying to recreate the film experience online. We will put together a slate of pre-film introductions and other things, to emulate what happens in person. It will be a special event for everyone that participates,” he said.

“There will be a great amount of time put on the value-added things, so people get to know us, the filmmakers, the films and bring greater access. Just because we’re not in theatres doesn’t mean there’s less to do. We have a ton planned for our eight days in September.”

Author’s Note: The writer of this piece, Jordan Parker, also serves as a publicist for Bone Cage, which is one of the many offerings mentioned here in FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival’s programming for 2020.

About the Author: Jordan Parker

Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. He's been a movie nerd since he was old enough to walk.
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