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Possible Worlds 6th Canadian Film Festival Preview

Written by Robbie Gadsbey on August 1, 2011

If you want to go somewhere cool this winter to snuggle up, then perhaps a trip to the Possible Worlds 6th Canadian Film Festival might just be the place for you. No blanket or mulled wine required, although wine (Ascella white and red) as well as Canadian Club whiskey is available for free at selected screenings as part of your ticket price. Sydney Festival may have the big names and bigger films, but it’s this festival that has the coolest films. Music Feeds catches up with Artistic Director Mathieu Ravier and Festival’s Manager Karina Libbey to discuss this year’s festival.

Music Feeds: The Festival has grown more popular and bigger each year. Why do you think this is, considering the increasingly competitive Film Festival circuit in Sydney?

Karina Libbey: We always wanted the festival to be a friendly one, whereby everyone is included, including the audience and not just the filmmakers. There are parties, drinks, music and Q&A’s which we think are value add-ons which enhance the festival experience to our patrons. Each year also attracts better known films and higher profile cast directors. We will be screening 20 films, 15 of which are Australian premieres, and there are 5 guests travelling to Sydney this year to attend. We have our patrons from previous years, but word of mouth seems to help spread the word. People see a good film and have a great night. They then recommend the festival to their friends and they in turn recommend it to theirs.

Music Feeds: Why are Canadian Films different from their worldwide counterparts? What sets them apart?

Karina Libbey: ‘It’s Not Hollywood’, which is a direct quote from this year’s programme! Canadian films share the same scenarios in their ethos but like any country, they deal with issues in cinema that has a uniquely Canadian feel to them. Canadian humour is one aspect of their films which separates themselves from other worldwide humour. But it’s not just comedy. They have a unique take on dramatic films as well.

Music Feeds: What is the quintessential Canadian film?

Mathieu Ravier: Canadian culture is incredibly diverse, reflecting the very diversity of Canadian culture, so it’s impossible to pick any single film that encapsulates all notions of cultural identity. I’ll pick one of my favourites, Deny Arand’s The Decline of the American Empire, if only because it showcases the wit, humour, irreverence and a knack of social commentary which one can find not just in Quebec, but in Canadian cinema as a whole.

Music Feeds: What are the Highlights of this year’s festival?

Karina Libbey: Crime thriller Small Town Murder Songs is one of my favourites, which stars the excellent Peter Stormare. I saw it at the Toronto Film Festival in 2010 and it was a must have for our festival. There is slow tension built around the soundtrack which is just incredible. Beauty Day is a documentary about Ralph Zavaldi, who performed dangerous stunts to a small cable TV audience in the early 90s way before the popularity of Jackass, and is hilarious and moving. There is a great after-screening party at the Factory Theatre with Toy Death (who play toys as instruments!) performing live. Pontytool is a smart ‘infection’ horror film and we will be hosting a Zombie Ball after the screening. This is a retrospective screening of director Bruce McDonald’s film and we will also be screening two of his other films This Movie is Broken and Trigger. I strongly recommend stealing a ticket for A Drummer’s Dream (if you haven’t already bought one of course as it’s due to sell out!) as we will be hosting a ‘drum off’ after the screening, whereby we will have invited everyone in Sydney who has a drum to play a 1 minute drum solo, to be judged by a band which has yet to be announced. Ponytool actors Stephen McHattie and Lisa Houle will be just some of the guests attending the festival. Stephen also appears in Score: A Hockey Musical (our opening night film which is now sold out) and A Beginner’s Guide to Endings.

Music Feeds: The Festival hasn’t as many quirky screening venues as previous years such as Bobbi’s Pole Studio. Has there been a conscious decision to get things a bit more controlled and ‘respectable’!:

Karina Libbey: Not may films screening this year have attributed to site-specific venues that reflect the content of their material. We also wanted to streamline it this year. So our main venues are the Dendy Opera Quays, Australian Museum and the Factory Theatre, the latter of which is a new venue for us this year that will mainly screen our music related films.

Music Feeds: Why ‘Possible Worlds’?

Mathieu Ravier: The Festival is named after Robert Lepage’s excellent Possible Worlds, starring Tilda Swinton. But it also gets its name from the similarities between Australia and Canada, each country in many ways is a slightly warped mirror image of the other. Each film at the festival opens up a window to a parallel universe, a different world where everything is slightly different yet strangely familiar. As such, the festival becomes a gateway into other possible worlds…..

The gateway into those possible worlds will be open to explore from 8th to 14th August 2011.

For full programme, venues and tickets visit:

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