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Photo: Mind Fudge (Courtesy of CBC)

IFFO Screen Summit moves online despite inaugural film fest being postponed—07.20.20 to 07.24.20

By Greggory Clark on July 18, 2020

IFFO, the International Film Festival of Ottawa, was set to launch this past March when the pandemic hit. While the inaugural event is postponed until 2021, its industry programming and discussion panels are moving online. The offshoot IFFO Screen Summit is a five-day event dedicated to “strengthening and inspiring Ottawa’s growing screen-based industries” while addressing topics relevant to all Canadian industry professionals.

It’s not only for people in the industry. “We have some great talks,” says IFFO Managing Director Kelly Neall, “with people like Lisa Soper,” the Ottawa-based production designer behind Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, “and Marie Clements talking to Tom McSorley about her distinguished career and the making of Red Snow.”

IFFO and the Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival are co-presenting B.C. métis artist Marie Clements’s Red Snow, her first fiction feature film about a Gwich’in Indigenous Canadian soldier’s capture by the Taliban while on patrol in Afghanistan. The Canadian-made drama is “not an easy watch… but may just be an essential one,” writes the Globe & Mail film critic Anne T. Donahue.

By all accounts, Red Snow is a marvel of a film—all the more impressive when you find out filming was limited to three weeks between the Northwest Territores and British Columbia and writer/director Clements not only required three cultural advisers on the film (Gwich’in, Inuvialuktun, and Pashtun), but lead actor Asivak Koostachin had to learn Gwich’in from scratch to perform his lines. You won’t want to miss the filmmaker’s live Q&A on Tuesday, July 21 at 3:30pm.

Also co-presented with Asinabka is a talk on Rustic Oracle, the locally-produced film which raises awareness about missing and murdered Indigenous women through the story of an eight-year-old girl who searches for her missing sister with her mother. Mohawk filmmaker Sonia Bonspille-Boileau, the director of this powerful feature, and Rustic Oracle producer Jason Brennan will discuss their work in the one-hour “Ask Me Anything” session.

A rotating cast of moderators will host live Ask Me Anything sessions with IFFO filmmakers, while their work is streamed free and on-demand anytime during July 20–24 festival dates.

More highlights include Mind Fudge, an Instagram series which was picked up by CBC Gem. Co-creators Justine Nelson and John Simo will be joined by Peter Woods for an Ask Me Anything live chat on Tuesday, July 21 at 3:30pm.

IFFO Screen Summit participants can also nab a spot to talk one-on-one with funders and meet in small groups with industry leaders for talks. While the festival’s networking event is open to any one, priority will be given to professionals working in the Ottawa-Gatineau region.

“Having seen success from the industry-focused components of the Ottawa International Animation Festival—$16 million in business was done at the event in 2019—we hope to leverage that knowledge, reach, and expertise to grow this event to meet the needs of Ottawa’s screen-based industry professionals,” says Azarin Sohrabkhaini, Director of Industry Programming at IFFO, the OIAF, and the Canadian Film Institute. “IFFO and the Screen Summit have been many years in the making and with Ottawa’s forthcoming industry development initiatives, this is the right time to realize this vision.”

Visit iffo.ca for the list of speakers, video on-demand program and a complete schedule of live events. Registration is free and provides complete access to IFFO programming.