Extraordinary Visitor takes Atlantic fest

Halifax: The 18th Atlantic Film Festival wrapped nine days of parties and screenings with an awards luncheon on Sept. 26 that honored 28 filmmakers from Canada and around the world....

Halifax: The 18th Atlantic Film Festival wrapped nine days of parties and screenings with an awards luncheon on Sept. 26 that honored 28 filmmakers from Canada and around the world.

Newfoundland feature Extraordinary Visitor opened the festival on a high note, unspooling to a sold-out crowd. By week’s end the comedy’s momentum was still evident as it walked away with five of the festival’s top awards.

Produced by Jeannice Ripley and Paul Pope and written and directed by John Doyle, Extraordinay Visitor picked up the William F White awards for both writing and direction. As winner of the William F. White award for direction, Doyle also took home the Casablanca Sound Prize, worth $3,500 in Casablanca services and return airfare to Toronto.

Pam Hall won the craft award for art direction for her work on the film and Andy Jones won for acting-male – an honor which he shared with John Dunsworth from Mike Clattenburg’s short film One Last Shot, which earned Clattenburg a best cinematography award.

Mary Walsh came out on top in the acting-female category for her portrayal of Marietta, an up-and-coming talk show host in Extraordinary Visitor, while precocious newcomer Genevieve Tessier won the same award for her role in Imagex’s The Real Howard Spitz.

The Illuminated Life of Maud Lewis, a documentary on the life of the Nova Scotia folk artist, directed and produced by Peter D’Entremont and coproduced with Mike Mahoney and Kent Martin, picked up the Margaret Perry Award for Best Nova Scotia-produced film. The prize was worth $2,000 cash and another $2,000 in film stock.

Maud Lewis also meant honors for John Rosborough, who won the craft award for sound editing, and Sandy Moore, who won for music composition.

Canada/Ireland coproduction This Is My Father, directed and written by Paul Quinn, was the closing-night film as well as the recipient of The People’s Choice Award for Best Feature.

Up-and-comer Andrea Dorfman picked up the Linda Joy Most Promising New Director Award – which includes $1,500 cash, $250 in materials and $3,000 in services from Production Services Atlantic – for her nine-minute Super-8 film Nine. Dorfman also won the Advantage Productions’ Editing Prize of $2,000 in services.

After walking off with the National Film Board’s John Spotton Award for best Canadian short film at the Toronto International Film Festival, Mary Lewis’ When Ponds Freeze Over was a winner back home, picking up the award for best Atlantic Short film or video – a $10,000 win. The short also won an award for editing for Derek Norman.

The Rex Tasker Award for best Atlantic documentary went to Monique LeBlanc’s Cigarette. Piers Haggard’s Conquest won for best Canadian feature film or video and A Granellian Encounter from director Colin MacKenzie won best Canadian short film or video.

International awards went to Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth for best feature film or video, while Lynn Ramsey’s Gasman was named best short film or video.

The ScreenScene Gordon Pinsent Children’s Choice Award for best feature went to Oen I fuglegaden (The Island on Bird Street) by Soren Kragh Jacobsen, with Kayla by Nicholas Kendall getting an honorable mention.

Pete Travis’ Bill’s New Frock earned the ScreenScene Award for best short film or video, with an honorable mention going to Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants by David Devine. Joanna Quinn’s Famous Fred won for best animation.

Strategic Partners, Canada’s first coproduction conference, was a hit, with around 70 broadcasters, distributors and producers from Canada and Germany on hand to discuss possible projects one-on-one and participate in panel discussions.

Those who made the trip to Halifax included Kevin DeWalt from Regina-based Minds Eye Pictures, Arnie Zipursky from Toronto’s Cambium Entertainment and Roman Bittman from Mobius in New Brunswick.

Making up the German contingent were Siegfried Braun from zdf, Rose Marie Couture from Road Movies and Klaus Keil, managing director of Filmboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

For Strategic Partners, producer of industry programs Jan Miller says Rock Demers was the perfect opener as the veteran producer got things going with a speech emphasizing the importance of humanity and humility in filmmaking.

‘So often in these kinds of coproductions you get down to the financing,’ says Miller. ‘But we started with the heart and the creative and then it kept coming back to that in the other panels.’