The Edmonton International Film Festival looked quite different when it began 35 years ago.
“Eighteen years ago, we were projecting on film. So we would receive film cans for every film, and I remember our FedEx driver — after a number of years of doing this — he started to take his holidays during and leading up to the film festival,” says Kerrie Long, executive producer of Edmonton International Film Festival.
The festival has grown since then and is now completely programmed at Landmark Cinemas City Centre across 10 days. This year, the programming includes over 40 feature-length and 160 short films.
“And this year, because of the situation that we’re in, we’re also offering a percentage of our program online to those who are still a little reluctant about going out into a theatre,” says Long.
Twenty-six feature films will be available online until October 10 and 26 short film programs will be available virtually until October 31. Many of the online films include a short pre-recorded Q&A about the film to make the at-home experience similar to the theatre experience.
If you’re attending the festival in person, you might catch a live Q&A with select directors, producers and cast members from the range of films. One such visitor is Courtney Montour, who wrote and directed Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again, which was partially filmed in Edmonton. The documentary tells the story of Mary Two-Axe Earley, who was a key figure in Canada’s women’s rights movement and fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nation’s women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act.
“Her work was very influential in the women’s rights movement in Canada, and I feel like there’s not that much known about her,” says Montour. “So that’s why it was really important for me to make this film to honour Mary’s legacy, and the ongoing work for sex equality that continues today.”
Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again features conversations with the late Cree activist Nellie Carlson from Saddle Lake Cree Nation, and Edmonton’s Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse and her daughter, Isabella.
“It was a four-year journey to make the film and it started off with coming to Edmonton to do some research because Edmonton is like a hub for Indian Rights for Indian Women,” says Montour. “It was important to go there and spend time with Nellie Carlson. She’s somebody who was impacted by the laws and she became a co-founder of Indian Rights for Indian Women.”
The 34-minute documentary is screening October 3 at 3:15 p.m. and October 6 at 1:30 p.m. The October 3 showing is followed by a Q&A with Montour. Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again will also be available online from October 4 to October 31.
The Edmonton International Film Festival runs October 1 until October 11 at Landmark Cinemas City Centre. The Lunch Box Shorts series will be back during the lunch hour Monday to Wednesday for $15. All short film programs are $10, feature films before 4:00 p.m. are $10 and then $15 after 4 p.m. The complete film guide and schedule can be found online.
Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test completed within 72 hours of the event is required to attend in-person screenings at Landmark Cinemas City Centre. Each theatre is operating at 50 per cent capacity to ensure social distancing.