REGINA — Although it will be another year before attendees can walk the red carpet again, the Regina International Film Festival & Awards is still welcoming an impressive slate of filmmakers to a virtual festival for 2021.
On Aug. 10-14, the RIFFA will introduce a total of 112 films selected for this year’s awards, coming from more than 30 countries across the globe.
RIFFA president John Thimothy is excited for the event, which he feels will be another incredible showing of talent and industry.
For the second year in a row, the festival will be taking place entirely virtually, on a newly designed website that features category filters and virtual recreations of the event’s usual venues.
Festival passes, currently available at a discounted rate, will allow attendees to watch all the films chosen for this year’s event, while the panels with speakers will be free to view for the general public without a pass.
“If you want to watch a movie, there is a small fee, but the rest of events are free of cost for the public and they can watch anywhere in the world,” said Thimothy.
The slate of films on this year’s schedule is exciting, said Thimothy, and includes Indian drama film Biriyaani: Flavours of Flesh from director Sajin Baabu and a sports documentary from co-directors Lucas Frison and Kevin Eastwood called Humboldt: The New Season.
He said that although there are fewer selected films than in previous years, this year’s festival has seen the largest number of international submissions yet, and a total of 61 films received, or more than 50 per cent of the schedule, were from female directors.
There’s also plenty of Saskatchewan representation as well, with 14 films credited to local filmmakers and studios here in the province.
Of the four titles shortlisted in the Canadian Feature category, two are Saskatchewan films — Mercy from director Sam Flamont and Nolan: Here Nor There from director Wilfred Dieter and screenwriter Dustin Hlady — which will be a first for RIFFA.
“That’s a huge thing [because] we don’t usually get any Saskatchewan movies qualified under the Canadian feature category,” said Thimothy. “The amount of participation from Saskatchewan filmmakers [at RIFFA] is getting higher, and there’s lots of quality films being submitted.”
Not that the Saskatchewan film industry isn’t vibrant enough to produce feature films worth recognition — Timothy said the opposite, actually, adding that often filmmakers in this province struggle more with budgeting a feature film than having the creativity to envision.
It's one of the reasons he feels RIFFA is such an important event to host, both for the city of Regina and the local film industry, as it offers networking and distribution opportunities that independent filmmakers crave.
“Any festival or organization wanting to promote Saskathcewan content plays a crucial role,” said Thimothy. “Festivals are the places where the majority of independent movies get sold, and have the opportunity to connect with audiences [and] I believe our festival provides a lot of that for Saskatchewan contacts.”
Thanks to continued marketing and outreach, Thimothy said that RIFFA has only grown since it first launched in 2015 and he feels it is continuously on the road to becoming more prestigious.
“We’re at the stage of showcasing over a hundred movies per year, [and] every year we receive movies with bigger titles, bigger directors involved,” said Thimothy. “So, with the festival and it's organization located in our province, it's a very proud moment for us, to be receiving this kind of incredible support every year.”
A full schedule for the upcoming Regina International Film Festival & Awards can be found online at riffa.ca, which also features options to purchase festival passes.