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New venue ‘necessary’ for independent filmmakers

Organizers aim to ‘build a scene of emerging filmmakers’

3 min read
Two rows of chairs, with space dividing the two. A projector is at the front of these rows.
caption Fleapit Cinema, with the help of Open Book Coffee, were able to hold their viewing of a series of short films in the warehouse of Nimbus Publishing.
Kate Barrio

On the projected screen, an image of a blue teddy bear is shown. The room fills with a voice explaining the not-so-simple life of a bear and how it reflects on society.

The filmmaker, Marissa Sean Cruz, says it’s an abstract experience about bears, which is left to the audience’s interpretation.

Cruz, a video and performance artist, had their film Billed-a-Bear shown alongside five other independent films at the Nimbus Publishing warehouse last Thursday evening on Strawberry Hill.

Cruz said it was important “to have a spot for more experimental and non-conventional media work” for independent filmmakers to start their careers in the film industry.

“I think that it’s necessary for filmmakers, especially with an experimental edge,” said Cruz. “They’re going to find ways to show their work and they’re going to find ways to connect with each other. This is just the amalgamation of that.”

A blue stuffed bear is projected onto a screen in the centre of a dark room.
caption Marissa Sean Cruz showcased their film, Billed-a-Bear, during the screening.
Kate Barrio

The cafe at Nimbus, Open Book Coffee, and independent film promoters Fleapit Cinema came together to give independent artists and budding filmmakers a chance to showcase their work.

Since Wormwood’s Dog and Monkey Cinema closed its doors 30 years ago, Joe Tinney, the owner of Open Book Coffee, noted the lack of venues showing local and independent works.

“I used to go to Wormwood’s all the time as a teenager,” said Tinney. “Wormwood isn’t around anymore, and I couldn’t really think of anywhere in the city that was doing anything like that, so I was all over it.”

Options for these filmmakers have been limited since the closing of Wormwood. One of the few independent cinemas left in Halifax is Carbon Arc, in the basement of Nova Scotia Museum on Summer Street, which has held weekly showings on a seasonal basis. Carbon Arc has been open for the last 13 years.

Fleapit Cinema began in January of this year after director Sean Maheux Galway and a group of other independent filmmakers saw a showing in Toronto. It left them wanting to expand this idea in a city like Halifax.

“We thought that was a perfect way for us as emerging filmmakers,” said Galway. “We’re looking for ways to build a scene of emerging filmmakers, and we just knew that this was possible, and the space presented itself.”

A black and green poster with a pink hand holding a phone on the left.
caption The poster for the second screening of short films at the Nimbus warehouse, which was on Nov. 16.

Galway emphasized the importance of seeing independent artists and wanted to bring them into a community, where their work can be shown to the public.

“We want to sustain this kind of alternative screening series, that’s really our core and our roots of it,” said Galway. “We want to keep doing what we’re doing, looking for new and exciting short films that are emerging filmmakers trying things out.”

Tinney said the first showing, at the café, was packed on Aug. 17 and he wanted to ensure that there was enough room for all.

“We were so encouraged by that,” said Tinney. “I had the idea that if they were going to do another screening of independent short films, that it would be a good idea to do it in the warehouse.”

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About the author

Kate Barrio

Kate is a fourth-year Journalism student in the BJH program at the University of King's College from Moncton, N.B.

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