This summer the tiny Village of Rosseau plays host to The Muskoka Independent Film Festival (MIFF). It is the final event to mark the end of a larger, 2-month, Destination Rosseau, a festival of live theatre, art, music and film.
Personally, I have been wanting to produce a film festival here in the area for years. Although there are a few events that call themselves film festivals in the region, I wanted MIFF to be more than just a series of screenings in one large venue. Plus, I did not want to bring in a prepackaged series either. I see MIFF as being “an event” on its own.
In the early days of the Toronto Film Festival, way before it went all Hollywood, each year I would receive a VIP pass that allowed me into everything. Those were the days when one did not have to pre-register to see a film. You just ran around from venue to venue with the catalogue tucked under your arm and got in line! (Although with the VIP pass you got to go to the front of the line. 🙂 ) . After or before a screening, you and fellow cinefiles would gather in coffee shops or bars, discuss the films you saw and listened for reviews of great flicks that had a second screening. There were parties and yes there were stars, but it was a more subtle display of fan adoration and no red carpet. There were also panel discussions where filmmakers would disclose the stories behind the makings of their projects. This is my vision for MIFF.
This year as my associates, members of the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project and fellow village residents, embark upon the launch of Destination Rosseau 2014, I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful woman Catherine Mondragon. Originally Catherine was going to assist me with grant writing, but I quickly realized that it was a waste of her talents. Catherine was a filmmaker and as I discovered, a film lecturer. And Bbesides film, Catherine has been a student of urban studies, a wonderful asset for my overall vision in this tiny hamlet of Rosseau as an arts destination. So I assigned her the position of coordinator of MIFF.
The great thing about Catherine is that she is from a generation a few below my own and so her contacts and view of the film world are different from my own. As a result, our programme for the first MIFF is forming into a “sweet celebration of the silver screen”. Although at this point we are not ready to announce the final lineup, I can tell you that everything is going as planned.
The first Muskoka Independent Film Festival will take place from August 28 through 30th in three venues here in the Village of Rosseau. The Village of Rosseau is a quaint hub at the top of Lake Rosseau, part of the famous Muskoka Lakes system. From Rosseau one has a choice of direct access to Huntsville, Bracebridge, Port Carling and Parry Sound. If there’s one word I hear over and over that describes the Village is “quaint”. It boasts fine restaurants , a gourmet general store, LCBO, coffee shops, nursing station, churches, gift stores, art galleries and a few B&Bs. Just south of us one finds the JW Marriott Resort “The Rosseau” and Clevelands House with more restaurants and other facilities. To the east there’s the famous Windermere House and to the west, the newly reopened Grand Tappattoo resort.
Our village is known as the place where it is not uncommon to find movie and sports stars, famous musicians or captains of industry casually having dinner, strolling through our Friday Farmer’s Market or haggling over the price at our Sunday antique market. All of this is located within a two block radius. Our venues, the new Rosseau Playhouse in the Agricultural Hall, The Memorial Hall and Frost Hall, part of the Anglican church, are within a two to three minute stroll of each other, as are the coffee shops and restaurants, the perfect location for pre and post viewing discussions.
Although we are not tapping into the local celebrities we have confirmed a few who are coming on board to kickstart MIFF. As informal discussions are very much part of our festival format, who better to lead them than my friend Dini Petty, who for years interviewed in depth, artists, “A” list movie stars and even over zealous cottage TV hosts like myself. Catherine has and continues to bring on board a great variety of filmmakers and there’s more to come. We are accepting submissions up to the end of June. For details visit http://www.rosseaucultureandarts.com/Muskoka_Independent_Film_Festival.html or email Catherine Mondragon at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Day and festival passes are available now online at www.rosseaucultureandarts.com or after May 16th at the Destination Rosseau Box Office in the TWG Gallery in Rosseau. As our venues are “intimate, passes are limited…and there will be parties.