A bit about Joanne…
Sea & Ski Realty had the pleasure of interviewing Joanne McKenzie, the Artistic Director of the Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF). Joanne has been a part of the theatre and arts community for quite a while and started out at MIFF as a volunteer. In 2013, she became a director for the Meaford Hall & Cultural Foundation and took on the role as Artistic Director for MIFF in 2017. Joanne doesn’t always need to see a Blockbuster and appreciates foreign films and ones that may fall under the radar.
How did MIFF begin?
In 2007, the Meaford Hall had completed its restoration work to the theatre and the foundation was looking for a way to bring people back into the hall. Gough Lewis proposed the idea of a film festival to the board of directors and although they were hesitant at first, they agreed; making Lewis the first Artistic Director for the festival. The festival still follows the same format that it did 11 years ago, with four nights, four films, four parties.
What does it take to run the show?
It’s not just Joanne running the whole weekend. Joanne has a committee of hardworking volunteers, who begin in January to prepare for this weekend event. All of the money raised from the event goes back into the community to support arts and culture.
What does a typical MIFF night look like?
MIFF is not just about watching films, it’s also about celebrating the community and having a party! Beside the Meaford Hall a large tent is set up to host some of the festivities. Before each film is shown, there is a dinner catered by one of the local restaurants. These delicious meals showcase why our area has become known for some amazing culinary treats and allow movie goers to have a delicious meal without them worrying about whether or not they’ll make it to the movie on time. After dinner, everyone heads inside to watch a student film selected from the Grey Bruce Youth Film Festival before the main event. After the film, MIFF will host a informative interview with someone from the film — often a director, producer or actor — so the audience can learn more about what they just saw. The night wraps up under the big tent with a party! Each audience member gets a complimentary glass of wine or beer, snacks and appetizers, as well as a vote for the Pomme d’Or– the people’s choice award of the festival.
But if you can’t make it to the evening viewing, don’t fret, there’s a matinee viewing of each film too!
What makes MIFF different from other film festivals?
Two of the biggest factors that make MIFF different is that it’s close to home and people get a more tailored experience based on their interests. By having the festival set up over four days, viewers can choose when they want to the see the films and how they want to see it. Whether they want to view the movies at night or during a matinee, to do dinner and a show or just the feature presentation as well as going to just one night or all of them, MIFF gives it’s audience the chance to attend the festival in a way that fits their style without breaking the bank.
What does the future hold for MIFF?
Joanne not only wants to see MIFF continue but grow each year. It’s a lofty goal, but last year had the best attendance yet and hopes that in the near future they’ll have every seat filled, every night!