Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival is able to screen Mariano Llinás’ 13-and-a-half-hour arthouse epic, La Flor, now that the festival has moved online.
Festival programmer Evan Bower says the films shown tend to be of niche interest, so moving online allows the festival to show these films provincewide and reach a broader audience.
“That was where it clicked for us that despite its challenges doing an online festival has its benefits,” Bower says. “We can unleash this huge film out into the world and the people who want to see it will find it.”
This year the festival is screening more films than ever, with a total of eight features and 22 shorts. The festival’s sole special presentation, Llinás’ La Flor, is a sprawling, fast-paced film comprised of six cinematic episodes shot over the span of 10 years. Bower says Llinás “rejects flow cinema as a form” and, by removing the endings of multiple episodes, begs the question whether viewers enjoy films based on their endings alone.
La Flor is “bursting at the seams with story,” Bower says, so much that it can barely be contained in the already challenging 808-minute runtime.
While programming for an in-person festival back in March, they were uncertain if the film could be screened without renting out a secondary theatre space or scheduling conflicts.
Bower says Mark Jenkin’s BAFTA-winning Bait and Canadian debut feature Tapeworm directed by Miloš Mitrovič and Fabián Velasco are also “standouts” of the online festival lineup.
Bait follows Martin, a struggling fisherman in a coastal Cornish village, and examines the effects of tourism and gentrification on his community. The film has many analogues to life in Nova Scotia and, Bower says, the ethos of Jenkin’s filmmaking process mirrors those used in the province.
Tapeworm is a unique take on life in Winnipeg, following the mundane lives of five oddball residents of a go-nowhere town. Bower describes the film as “the pinnacle of what we like to show at Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival” due to its individualistic view of Western Canada.
“We are working to bring you films that you may have heard of, that have a lot of buzz worldwide, but otherwise wouldn’t play here,” Bower says.
Bower suggests that viewers grab a snack, get comfortable and pace themselves.
Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival kicks off on Thursday and lasts until Sunday.