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22 Years of Gimli International Film Festival Back with a Bang

Giff Executive Director Alan Wong

For the past two years, the Gimi International Film Festival (GIFF) has had to modify its programming offering a curated selection of films digitally. Now on its 22nd anniversary, the festival is back in a big way, with in-person events. 

Wednesday night, film industry members, Manitoba legislators, and representatives from Iceland gathered to memorialize this momentous occasion and, of course, the art of film. For GIFF Board Member Norma Bailey, it’s an awesome moment to once again celebrate with Manitobans and visitors visiting from around the world. 

“It’s exciting. We have been working hard to keep the festival going through the COVID period. Last year we had a drive-in which was really exciting, and we had it virtual. But now, even just tonight, to be here with everyone who has contributed, and all our fans are just wonderful.”

For film fans visiting the community, Bailey hopes they experience films they might never have had before. For those interested, Baley will host a Sunday workshop on the relationship between Directors and Assistant Director, a vital component of the film process. 

[The assistant director, aka 1st AD, handles the logistics of running the set during production. A liaison between the director and the rest of the crew, the 1st AD manages shooting schedules, shot lists and coordinates with all department heads.]

This year’s program offers over 70 diverse and acclaimed films in various venues across the beach community, many created by Manitoba filmmakers. A reflection of the continued growth of Manitoba’s film industry. 

In the Manitoba Film & Music Annual Reports, Manitoba’s media production doubled from $110 million in 2014-2015 to $269 million in 2018-19. Although 2020-2021 saw a decrease at $171.9 million, it is expected to reach $350 in 2022-2023. Over half of the total production volume is spent in Manitoba on salaries, services and supplies. 

GIFF isn’t solely a festival of the dedication and artistry of those within the film industry. Acknowledging the history and culture of Gimli’s Icelandic heritage, GIFF first started by showcasing Icelandic films as an offshoot of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, a tradition still practiced today in its Northern Lights series.

“Without Gimli’s Icelandic heritage, let’s face it, there would probably be a statue of a pickerel,” said GIFF Executive Director Alan Wong. 

For Former Senator of Canada Janis Johnson and longest-running GIFF Board Member, the community on Lake Winnipeg’s western shore has always been her motivation. 

“It’s quite a story in itself, and I should probably put it in writing because I’m the only one who has been around that long on the board. It’s hard to believe it lasted, but I’m persistent and had the vision to ensure GIFF was a success. There’s no question this place here [Gimli] was the inspiration to keep me going.”

Celebrating the Icelandic festival since she was a child, Johnson wanted to do something more for Gimli, and from that, GIFF was born. 

The Gimli International Film Festival runs all weekend until July 24, with various films, workshops and activities.

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– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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