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Diversity and Inspiration Front and Center At Gimli’s 23rd Annual Film Festival

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For 23 years, filmmakers and film enthusiasts, locally and internationally, have made the trek to Gimli, Manitoba, to engross themselves in movies, films, and documentaries for the Gimli International Film Festival (GIFF).

The event started as an option to provide circumpolar film programming at the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba – Islendingadagurinn has grown massively, including five days of programs, workshops, and featuring over 90 films. The anticipation of what the future could hold for the festival is more palpable than ever. 

“Who knows, it may even grow in the future,” says executive director Alan Wong, “there are lots of festivals that are a week-long, ten days, two weeks. So who knows.”

Wong, who took first took up the role of festival manager in 2021, has been working diligently, taking his passion for film and a dedicated team to create the Gimli International Film Festival as a premier event and to inspire, educate, and empower audiences, while celebrating the art of film and the film community, here in Manitoba.

“Every good film has a good message,” says Wong, “that’s what it means to me, messages and stories that inspire, that motivate. The more you can celebrate, that pushes humanity forward, brings people together, and sparks ideas and motivations.”

Inspiration and passion aren’t only sparked in attending filmmakers and film lovers but the Gimli community also. Foot traffic supports local businesses, who excitedly open their establishments for travellers, but for many residents of the lakefront community, an opportunity to become involved in something extraordinary. Couple Diane Phillips and Jim Quail have volunteered at the festival for nearly two decades. When they first moved to Gimli, they wanted to experience what the festival was all about and were so impressed the two had to get involved. 

“Because it’s the quality of the films, the quality of the filmmakers who are absolutely incredible and creative. But it’s also looking at the (GIFF) board, the people you meet, and the volunteers. Of course, Gimli is a real gem, and we’re proud to be part of the Gimli community,” says Phillips. 

Quail remarked that volunteering for these many years alongside someone he loves has been absolutely thrilling, and he is encouraged that others will experience the magic of volunteering.

“The greatest gift we get out of volunteering is the social aspect, that is, the relationships we’ve developed over the 17-18 years… We just feel that being part of the Gimli Film Festival is so important not only to us but to the whole community. It’s a very welcoming community, it’s a very warm community, and we look forward to trying to project that feeling to people who come to Gimli.” 

The wide variety of films from blockbusters showcased at the festival’s beach showings, features, documentaries, short programs, documentaries, and workshops had one thing in common, a diversity of thoughts and creators. Diaspora is a story exploring the experiences of a Ukrainian immigrant to Winnipeg, the Icelandic Film Beautiful Beings, the LGTBQ2SIACAB shorts series, the documentary Twice Colonized, which follows renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter and her fight for the rights of her family and an exploration of reclaiming her language and culture are some exquisite examples of films exploring the diversity of life.

The media landscape continues to innovate and change, better reflecting the cultures and people that live in North America. Indigenous stories and voices are becoming more visible in series like Little Bird and the feature film Bones of Crows. The Winnipeg Indigenous Filmmakers Collective shorts program at GIFF is another opportunity for Indigenous stories to reach audiences. 

Charlene Moore, director of the short Nipi, has been involved with the Winnipeg Indigenous Filmmakers Collective since its inception and has experienced and seen how the group has helped Indigenous filmmakers thrive. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to get into the film industry if I didn’t have that safe space that the collective provided. It was through the collective that I was able to create an amazing network that was able to support me, and I was able to support my friends in making our films. I’ve been able to see the collective members in our art and our work grow over the past decade.”

 Innovation and inspiration remain front and centre at the Gimli International Film Festival, celebrating films, supporting filmmakers, and creating dreams. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Community Focus: Manitoba Filipino Seniors Group

https://youtu.be/MV57jy1evg4 Promoting well-being among both the young and elderly members of the community while preserving Filipino culture is a key aspect of the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg (FSGW). FSGW hosted the first Seniors Sports Fest last March, featuring popular games, including pool, darts, chess and Filipino Sungka. The efforts promoted socialization,Continue Reading

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