join me for a diversion to the Gimli Film Fest
As the largest rural film festival in Canada, the Gimli International Film Festival (GIFF) is definitely worth a look. Initially known as the Gimli Film Fest, the event celebrates its 23rd year in 2023 from July 26-30.
The in-person 2019 and 2020 GIFF were completely cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Film buffs were able to take in 100 films virtually in the 2021 version of the festival as COVID continued to be a factor. But coming back in 2022 with a renewed enthusiasm and an executive team led by new artistic director Alan Wong, the festival expanded the reach of its name from Gimli Film Fest to the Gimli International Film Festival– a reflection of the truly global nature and broad scope of its offerings.
For a full Festival pass priced at $119 you can take in the standard festival events. The Super Pass for $179 offers many more perks. And the Online Pass at $49 offers opportunities for those who can’t make it to Gimli. This is a great way to access a palette of world films from the comfort of your own home at a very reasonable cost. There are also various in-person day passes for those who want to take in everything they can on one single day.
The full repertoire of GIFF offers a collection of obscure, eclectic, thought-provoking, and enticing short films, documentaries, and feature films from Canada and around the world.
In the past, I’ve been privileged to attend the Opening Reception in celebration of the festival. I’ve also enjoyed several beach screenings, including the Weakerthans documentary and The cult favourite Phantom of the Paradise.
A few years ago, I attended the afternoon screening of a documentary on El Bulli, said by many to be the world’s best restaurant at that time. I missed the opportunity to visit this landmark eating establishment when I was in Spain as it was too far from Barcelona to make it work for our itinerary, but I really enjoyed the insightful documentary.
Where or how else would you be able to get inside the head of a master 3-star chef like Ferran Adria? I’m sure all mouths in the room were watering as we watched a film documenting this culinary mastermind’s sources of inspiration.
There are several indoor venues in addition to the free RBC Sunset Screenings where you can watch classic feature films such as Cast Away, Mama Mia, Life of Pi and 9 to 5 right on Gimli Beach. The photo above shows the frame for the 36-foot (11-metre) wide screen mounted in the water just off the shores of Gimli Beach, where you can watch the film of the evening from the comfort of a low beach chair, or by stretching out on a blanket.
The GIFF offers something to please any film buff. Check the website or Gimli International Film Festival Facebook page for the complete program and festival updates. They also have an Instagram page.
I’d love to hear your best GIFF memories, or any experiences you may have had at other film festivals around the world. Hope to see you in Gimli, Manitoba, Canada, soon for the film fest, the Icelandic Festival, or one of the other great events you’ll find in this culturally diverse community of less than 7,000 permanent residents.