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Picton Picturefest celebrates cinema

By Gracie Scutella
“A Pilgrimage,” a magical little festival organized by actress Tilda Swinton and filmmaker Mark Cousins, had participants physically pull a mobile movie theatre through small towns in the Scottish Highlands.

Among those participants was film journalist Peter Knegt, who watched as cinematic joy was spread to those towns – most of which had never had a movie theatre. A former Trenton resident, Knegt decided to attempt to recreate that magic with his lifelong friend and colleague, Jennifer MacFarlane.  Spending summer days of their youth lost in the beauty of Prince Edward County, they agreed it was the perfect place to do so.

Picton Picturefest will be a film festival, an educational retreat for youth interested in film and an opportunity for people to gather as a community and celebrate cinema. The picturesque backdrop of the county and its artistic community makes this a perfect setting for such a venue.

“The mission of the festival is to create an event that embodies in every aspect, the idea of community” said Knegt. “In this way we hope that every participant feels like they’ve contributed to the final product. We want to re-imagine the way we experience cinema.”

“We are really excited,” MacFarlane and Knegt said jointly. “It’s going to take place over four days – July 7-11 – and is going to involve just over a dozen screenings curated by folks in the industry.”

Funded in part by the Ontario Arts Council, Picturefest will also see workshops for budding filmmakers, with the short films they create during the festival screened on the last day.

The youth education aspect of the festival is foremost. Young people can  learn the basics in filmmaking and film festival production, and will be invited to camp out with the organizers and instructors at the Small Pond Arts Retreat in Picton.

“These specific individuals will assist us in the execution of the film festival, but will also be free to attend and engage in all of the screenings, workshops and social events,” said MacFarlane, who currently works with the Toronto International Film Festival.” We want them to be fully immersed in the experience by inviting them to spend the duration of the festival in a ‘cinephile summer camp’- esque environment.”

“There is something for everyone,” said MacFarlane. “There is no limit to the scope of Picturefest’s audience”.

During the four-day event, there will be 11 screenings of feature film programs, a local shorts program and a youth shorts program.

Other events include an animation workshop for younger children, various panels and a concert. Screenings will take place at a variety of venues across the county, some indoor (like the Regent Theatre) and some special outdoor screenings.

They hope to foster community relationships in Prince Edward County  for future artistic and cultural endeavours. They also hope to help encourage tourism and economic growth by showcasing such a festival.

“This is an organic, do it yourself effort that we hope everyone will participate in,” said Knegt  This is the only way Picturesfest can live up to its potential.”

Both Knegt and MacFarlane hope that collectively this can become an annual event, bringing tourism to the area, and giving the burgeoning arts scene a chance to showcase their work to industry professionals outside the immediate community.

“Most of all we want to give anybody that comes to Picturefest- whether locals or visitors or the people that put it on- the opportunity to feel inspired, and to take that inspiration into their everyday lives,” said Knegt.

Peter Knegt is a graduate of the University of Toronto and Concordia University. He writes for several international film publications, and has worked for festivals including TIFF. He has served as a juror and a panellist for festivals around the world.

Jennifer MacFarlane is also a graduate of the University of Toronto. She has worked on film festivals nationally and  internationally. Currently with TIFF, she deals with more than 150 Film Circuits groups across Canada.

Filed Under: Arts & CultureNews from Everywhere Else


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  1. Doris Lane says:

    Sounds like a terrific idea and I love the picture at the top of the article–It would make a great quilt. I was thinking of doing a watercolour something like that of PIcton. Lots of luck in your endeavour–you deserve a round of applause.

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