DRIFF movie showcase returns to Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax Oct. 19-21

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Published October 5, 2023 at 11:23 am

The Durham Region International Film Festival (DRIFF) returns to three different venues across the region from October 19 to 21. The festival will showcase a carefully curated line-up of film programming, including local and Canadian productions alongside international films. In addition to film screenings, DRIFF 2023 will offer workshops and panels for audiences and filmmakers to engage and learn more about the film industry.

DRIFF Chair Karen Burwell praised Kirk Cooper, the festival’s Director of Programming, for assembling a “wonderful variety of features and short films, from amusing to inspiring,” adding that the creators of each film will be on hand at the screenings to connect with film lovers.

DAY 1 will begin at the Centennial Building in Whitby with the opening night feature, SUZE (Canada), a dramatic comedy directed by husband-and-wife duo, Dane Clark, and Linsey Stewart. The film follows Suze (Michaela Watkins), a single mom who has lost her purpose after her daughter leaves for college. Stuck taking care of her daughter’s heartbroken ex-boyfriend who she can’t stand, Suze ends up on a journey of self-discovery and finds what living purposefully really looks like, while making an unlikely bond along the way.  The short film PRIMITIVE TIMES (Germany) will precede the opening night feature.

DAY 2 takes DRIFF to the St. Francis Centre for Community, Arts & Culture in Ajax. Kicking off the night with a pre-screening party and two feature films. This year DRIFF will be offering festivalgoers the chance to indulge their tastebuds in a delicious Local Food Showcase, featuring three chefs from around Durham Region. The night will also feature a panel discussion with film and television industry experts on finance, insurance, and distribution. The feature film for the evening is evening is THE BOY IN THE WOODS (Canada), directed by Rebecca Snow. Based on the memoir of the same name, the film follows the true story of Max (Jett Klyne), a Jewish boy escaping Nazi persecution in eastern Europe. The film will be preceded by the short film, DEMON BOX (Canada). The screening of the second feature film, WHEN HOPE BREAKS THROUGH (Canada), directed by Matthew Wagner, will follow shortly after. This inspiring documentary follows Whitby’s Mike Shoreman, a former professional paddleboarder and now mental health advocate, who – after contracting Ramsay Hunt syndrome and being told he would never paddleboard again – sets out to raise awareness and funding for the youth mental health crisis in Canada by paddleboarding across all five Great Lakes.

Mike Shoreman at the debut screening of When Hope Breaks Through last month

DAY 3 of DRIFF 2023 begins in Oshawa at the Biltmore Theatre with a free event looking at the world of sound effects in film with a Foley Workshop presented by Footsteps Post-Production Sound Inc. Next, a panel of industry professionals will take the audience behind the scenes with a look into the filmmaking process and a chance to learn about careers in film such as cinematography, music scores, make-up and special effects, production coordination, and much more. Following the workshops the doors will re-open for the ticketed event with a homegrown shorts program, including THE FORE-MEN (Canada), BEYOND THE RANCH (Canada), COLIN CARVEY’S LONG HALLOWEEN (Canada), NOT HERE, NOT THERE (Canada), TIGER MOM (Canada), and REDLIGHTS (Canada). After a short break, the evening will begin with a screening of the feature film PURPLE DON’T CRY (Canada), directed by Mamoun Hassan. This crime/drama film follows a misguided young man who ignores the advice of a gang leader and begins selling drugs to achieve his dreams of a luxury lifestyle. However, he soon realizes that quick money comes with deadly consequences. The second feature film of the night is EGGHEAD AND TWINKIE (USA), a coming-of-age LGBTQ+ comedy directed by Sarah Kambe Holland. The film follows an Asian American teenage girl who, after coming out to her parents, takes off on a road trip to meet her online crush with the help of her nerdy best friend. The film will be preceded by the animated short film FRIDA IN THE SKY (Canada).

“DRIFF has live films, virtual films, stimulating conversations, and great networking – all without that tiresome commute,” Burwell said.

A panel of independent judges will award cash prizes to four films in the following categories during the awards ceremony: Best Features, Best International Shorts, Best Student Film, Best Canadian Shorts, Best Doc, Best Animation Short, and Best Regional Film. The film winning the People’s Choice Award will be announced on driff.ca and on DRIFF’s social media platforms (@catchthedriff) following the completion of the virtual screenings on October 1 to 28.

Tickets will be affordable at $10 for Day 1 and Day 2 and $15 for Day Three screenings. For more information on tickets and program information check out driff.ca

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