The Gimli Film Festival wrapped up Sunday and is coming off its most successful year to date – a high point executive director Aaron Zeghers hopes to continue into the festival’s 20th anniversary next summer.
“It was a great weekend. I’m just exhausted and lying back in the afterglow today. It’s a wild ride but we had a whole lot of fun out here this weekend,” Zeghers told 680 CJOB.
“We’ve been seeing some pretty incredible growth year-over-year at the festival. It’s pretty exciting times for us.
“People are seeing films they’re not going to see any other way. Every indication we have is that they really love the work they’re being shown.”
Zeghers said the festival grew to 13,000 attendees for the first time ever, and saw increases in both pass sales and advance ticket sales.
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The festival – perhaps best-known for its beachfront screenings – also took steps toward showcasing more diverse content in 2019, with 85 of its films directed by women.
“I think in the last couple of years, it’s become super well-known that in Hollywood and in the film production industry, there’s been a lack of diversity, specifically a lack of women’s creative voices being heard,” he said.
“That’s something we’ve been making a focus, so this year we had our second annual Future is Female mentorship program. We brought up 60 emerging woman-identified filmmakers for panels, film screenings… it’s part of our mandate.”
The celebrate the 20th annual festival in 2020, which is also Manitoba’s 150th anniversary, Zeghers said the festival will be putting a focus on local history.
“We’ll be commissioning local filmmakers to make brand-new, locally-relevant documentaries that celebrate, reassess, and reconcile all of Manitoba’s history – past, present and future.”
WATCH: Gimli Film Festival kicks off