The Edmonton International Film Festival, which took place from Sept 24 until Oct 02, 2010, was a very different affair from TIFF. It’s a much smaller festival, which might not be able to boast as many celebrity guests, but on the plus side you actually get to see some great films without having to queue for hours. With only about 10 staff and 60 volunteers the team manages to run a very efficient and friendly event in one location in the city centre, which definitely helps with logistics. Many of the screenings had Q&As with guest filmmakers and there were also a few premieres and some excellent Canadian productions, such as the documentary Leave Them Laughing.
As I only had three days I didn’t get to see very many films outside of my shifts but made sure I saw Conor Horgan’s debut feature One Hundred Mornings. The one film I wasn’t so crazy about was Cannes Winner Uncle Boonmee. It seems to split peope into pretty much two groups: those who raved about how great it was, ‘sublime’ even and those who really had no idea what was going on and what it was all about.
The volunteer team was diverse and a good mix of return volunteers and newbies. So the opening night on Friday was pretty much about finding our feet and figuring out where people were needed. There were two theatres to seat people in, audience award slips to hand out and also a general info booth to look after. The good thing with smaller festivals like this one is that this leaves you more room to organise your shift yourself. If I saw people looking forlornly around I would walk over and help them with movie choices. If they had an issue with their tickets I would check with the theatre or festival staff for them. That kind of thing makes you feel really invested in the festival and ultimately like your job is actually important to the success of it, which can only be a good thing.
All in all even though my long weekend in Edmonton was pretty much a flying visit, it was definitely worth getting off the ViaRail train for!