September 29, 2020

BY WENDY CZAKO-MAH

The halls buzzed with anticipation as staff and Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) volunteers ran around feverishly, making sure everything was ready for the big day.

Held at Kitchener’s Empire Theatre from Oct. 16 to 21, the festival is Waterloo Region’s contribution to the film industry.

The event, which is in its sixth year, came out of a desire to showcase local talent and niche films, something several people in the community felt was missing. Through its diversity, the region has a lot to offer.

One of the people responsible for the buzz is David Terry, GRFF’s vice-chair and director of marketing. He said the festival started out as an idea and within that same year, that idea became a reality. The festival has been moving forward ever since. It showcases a broad range of films in several different categories and genres for all ages.

“We’re modest and unassuming, but we want to be known and we want to contribute to the art of film-making and the presentation of movies in all their forms and flavours.

“Film-making is part viewing films and is part of any community. There is a very active film-making community in the Region of Waterloo. Many of these filmmakers do not have local outlets for their movies.

“The screening tonight (Oct. 20) of Greenwich Village, Music That Defines a Generation is significant in that regard because the director, Lori Archibald, is a Waterloo native and as such I think and hope she would have a few words to say tonight (Oct. 20). She did at the opening, about the importance of your local community when you produce a movie of interest and importance, and we are the local community in Laura Archibald’s case.”

Terry said there were many factors that made the festival a success, especially this year as many great things fell into place. However, he said it’s still a learning experience.

“Things aren’t always perfect, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad.”

When it comes to the quality of films, Terry said one word can describe them: “extraordinary.” These movies are not made for the mainstream, but they are indeed important.

“Documentary movies inform us as human beings; they expose different aspects of the world that we live in, in a way that is unique to the director, which means it becomes unique to the audience,” he said.

Terry hopes the festival’s continued success will encourage directors to approach them and ask that their films be screened at GRFF.

“I think the festival in the next five years will establish itself as a focal point in this region.”