Lene Trunjer Petersen
For a film enthusiast such as myself, the annual Art Gallery of Hamilton’s World Film Festival is an obvious reason to dive into great independent films and documentaries. To satisfy my curiosity, I spoke to Festival Director Annette Paiement about how the World Film Festival came to be and what the AGH has to offer during its fifth anniversary celebrations.
As I was waiting in the lobby at the AGH, a smiling woman with curly hair came towards me. She introduced herself as Annette Paiement, and we went to some chairs near the big glass facades that make the AGH so recognizable.
Of course, my first question was, “why Hamilton?” With a big smile she replied, “why not?” Then she elaborated. She said that the nearest movie theater that runs several independent films is in Toronto. In general, it is mainstream movies that are shown in Hamilton and the surrounding areas. That means that if you like more artistic, independent films you will have to drive to Toronto. Of course, there is also the opportunity to go to the Toronto International Film Festival, but the price and distance is a factor for people here. According to Paiement, a lot of people who live in Hamilton wish to see more complex and debatable films, and these are what the AGH wants to supply.
But how do you choose between so many films that are being produced each year? Paiement smiles again and nods, before she explains that there is a deep commitment to film in this community. A lot of people email requests, and the AGH has a selection committee that includes McMaster professors. She also points out that the most important thing is that everyone who helps plan the AGH World Film Festival is a film lover and wants to share that feeling.
In the end, the job of the festival director is to figure out how the films speak to each other, what people want, and what surfaces elsewhere. For instance, she attends film festivals, reads reviews and uses sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic in order to evaluate films. One of her main focuses is how to create a platform for people to meet and discuss the themes of a film. In this way, it is not just a film, but becomes a valuable instrument in an ongoing debate.
Next year, the AGH celebrates its 100th anniversary and she really hopes that it can be combined with the sixth annual AGH World Film Festival. As for the future, Paiement has two wishes. The first one is that the festival can get access to more places where they can screen films. She is very happy that this year Anchor Bar at Jackson Square is collaborating with the AGH. They are showing short films and are always open after a film screening, which provides people a convenient place to meet and discuss the films. Her other wish is that young people continue to attend the World Film Festival.
Before I am on my way, Paiement reminds me that AGH also runs the ilovefilmseries, for which McMaster students receive a discount. The series runs throughout the year, and continues with a screening of the acclaimed documentary The Act of Killing on Nov. 13.
As for the AGH World Film Festival, it runs until Sunday Sept. 29. So don’t miss this chance to buy a ticket to what might be your new favorite film.