Arts

OCFF ran throughout the month of November. Image: OCFF/provided.

We caught up with a local filmmaker to talk all things OCFF

Needed a cheap break from exam preparations in the hectic academic month of November? Then maybe you attended the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival (OCFF). 

The 2020 edition featured Canadian cinema from all over the country. With fairly priced ticket packs and single-entry passes, it was easy to fit OCFF into even the strictest of student budgets. 

This year, the festival gave insight to humanity’s connection to social media and the need for artistic adaptation, and was a platform for emerging Canadian talent. The programming showed just how different 2020 has been for everyone, especially filmmakers.

The 24-hour viewing period for rented titles helped to avoid the usual festival hassle of being unavailable during the short time slots. Decision fatigue was also not a problem, since the festival was broken up into three shorter, less chaotic weekends of programming.

Just like everyone else, the filmmakers programmed by OCFF have had to adjust to life during COVID-19. Patrick Weiers, director of I Hope They Remember My Name, was stuck at home, and had lots of time to reflect on the existential crises and difficulties of the period. 

Film narratives can “act as an allegory for other stressors,” remarked Weiers. In his short film, a travel vlogger loses motivation for his craft as he feels more detached from reality. As people remain cooped up at home, the artificial closeness yet real loneliness that social media can produce is easy for most young people to relate to.

Other creators at the festival have also effectively distilled the lonely sentiment of the present moment. Pieces like the feature film The Great Disconnect focused on topics such as social media, current events, technology, unemployment and more. (It seems like this is a recurring theme in filmmaking in 2020: check out our review of the social media exposé, The Social Dilemma, last month.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has halted the progress of almost every filmmaker and young artist in the industry.

“Production was shut down in Toronto for four months,” said Weiers.

Weiers had some advice for aspiring artists who might have been limited by the pandemic: take advantage of the time inside to watch conceptual films that are different from your usual choices (the festival could be a good place to start!). You can publish your work anywhere you want now with the internet, even places like YouTube. Write as a cathartic outlet.

OCFF was also a great way to support Canadian talent. The Great Disconnect is a local Ottawa film, while the other films spanned from British Columbia to Alberta to Ontario. If you are still feeling the buzz from the Schitt’s Creek Emmy win, why not give other Canadian content a try?

For more information about OCFF 2020, you can check out their website here. Tons of bonus content, from Q&As with filmmakers to individual film reviews, are still available as well.