Hamilton film festival has always kept it reel
As the Hamilton Film Festival returns for its eighteenth year, Executive Director Nathan Fleet reflects on its history
There’s a very fine line to walk when curating a film festival. You want to support local filmmakers and artists, but you also want to include big titles to appeal to the masses. For Hamilton Film Festival’s Executive Director, Nathan Fleet, the best festivals should have room for both.
Currently in its eighteenth year, the Hamilton Film Festival remains on par with some of the best. At HFF, local shorts made by students and stop-motion Lego home movies are given a seat at the same table as award-winning actors and critically acclaimed directors.
As the festival continues to receive rave reviews, Fleet reminisced on how much the festival has grown and the strength of community that made it all possible.
“In our first year, 2004, we didn’t have a way to have movies submitted to us, so I just started asking people and friends saying, “Hey, do you want to show a movie? We’re going to run a film festival in Hamilton,”” explained Fleet.
Through word of mouth, the festival’s reputation grew and began to attract more submissions. And according to Fleet, the festival had filmmakers from Toronto flocking to Hamilton to get their movies screened by 2008.
Fleet believed the festival’s accessibility also helped account for this increase in submissions as well. While bigger festivals at the time would only accept submissions made with actual film, a material that came at a heavy cost for filmmakers, Hamilton willingly accepted DVD and VHS formats.
“Suddenly, it became accessible to indie filmmakers. You didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to convert stuff. Just burn a DVD off your computer and bring it down to the theatre,” said Fleet.
The festival continues to wear its heart for the Hamilton community on its sleeve today, especially for its youth. With the inclusion of emerging filmmaker showcases and local short film galas, the Hamilton Film Festival is dedicated to supporting the next generation of Canadian filmmakers.
Especially considering today’s highly curated digital world, Fleet encourages students to get into the practice of going to festivals to experience something unexpected for once, as the movies are not algorithmically selected for each audience member.
“The movies are not tailored to what you just looked at on YouTube. There is always something fresh and brand new and you have no idea what to expect. I always say, it cleanses the creative palette. You just sit down and trust what you’re going to see for the next 90 minutes,” explained Nathan.
The eighteenth Hamilton Film Festival runs until Oct. 29 and is currently being held at four different venues across Hamilton, including the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre, The Westdale, The Playhouse and The Staircase. To purchase tickets or view the full program, visit the Hamilton Film Festival’s official website.