Entering its 12th year, the Hamilton Film Festival (HFF) has welcomed filmmakers from around the world in a celebration of independent film. This year’s edition boasts a music theme and from November 4-12, the Hammer will be hosting screenings of 150 films – a diverse mix ranging from documentaries about the rise of contemporary Canadian indigenous music to a showcase of homegrown movies. For full schedule and all ticket options, check out their official website.
Nov 4: HFF Gala and Nathan Fleet Concert
HFF festival director Nathan Fleet kicks off the proceedings with his return to the musical stage after a 17 year hiatus. Backed by a full band, Fleet will preview songs from his upcoming album, Love Hate City. Following the performance, the party continues downtown to the Casbah Lounge for an 80’s party.
Nov 4, 7-11pm, $12. The Zoetic, 526 Concession St, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 5: The Pineville Heist and Lee Chambers Workshop
With David Cronenberg, Paul Haggis and Roger Corman touting his work, Thunder Bay based writer, producer and director Lee Chambers will lead a workshop exploring his experiences in the film industry. The 90-minute interactive presentation is given in a stand-up style with Chambers touching on topics like how to break in to the film business, balancing the business with the art and life on set. He will also give producing and directing tips, which is followed by a screening of his feature film debut. The Pineville Heist follows Aaron, a 14 year old who stumbles into the aftermath of a bank heist gone wrong. When he sneaks away with the money, it doesn’t take long for the robbers to track Aaron down at his school where the only person that can help him is his drama teacher.
Nov 5, 10am-2pm, $10. Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 6: When They Awake
Taking its tile from the prophetic words spoken by Métis leader Louis Riel, When They Awake celebrates the current renaissance of Indigenous music in Canada. The documentary explores an emboldened generation of artists working in genres spanning hip hop to country unafraid to explore a painful past to create their hopeful vision for the future. It features interviews with acclaimed acts like Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red, as well as many others, for an engrossing look at the artists following in the footsteps of trailblazers like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Robbie Robertson.
Nov 6, 8-10pm, $12. Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 7: Music Films!
There are multiple themed short film nights going down at this year’s festival ranging from thrillers to animations. Following this year’s theme, the Music Films showcase includes four shorts: 100 Proof Musical Theatre, a behind the scenes look at a one night only presentation of a Broadway musical, Hearts of Steel, a look at Toronto teens gearing up for a steel bands competition, Reunion Tour, a look at an aging rocker performing in his hometown, and Kayam Khooni, an Iranian made music video.
Nov 7, 9pm, $10. Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 8: Di Journey
The history and evolution of Britain’s African-Caribbean community is explored in this socio-historical documentary. Comprised of 12 chapters, Di Journey covers issues like the colonization of Jamaica, present day issues faced by the Black community and how British-Caribbean people have added to vibrant cities like London through interviews with prominent intellectuals and artists, as well as through the personal stories of three generations of one London Jamaican family.
Nov 8, 7.30pm, $10. Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 9: Robert Bruce/Sherlock Jr.
Hamilton Film Festival favorite Robert Bruce began performing live piano scores for the festival a dozen years ago. He’s since performed over 500 live scores and for this year’s festival, will accompany a screening of the silent film classic, Sherlock Jr. Starring Buster Keaton as a movie house projectionist who dreams himself into a movie, Sherlock Jr is a comedy classic suitable for the whole family. Prior to the performance, the short film The Sleeping Beauty will be screened.
Nov 9, 7-8.15pm, $10 ($32 for family pack of four). Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundurn Street N. Tickets.
Nov 10: That Never Happened – Canada’s First National Internment Operations
Armistice Films’ Ryan Boyko delves into a dark, little known part of Canada’s past. That Never Happened delves into Canada’s first national internment operations when over 88,000 newly arrived immigrants, primarily Ukrainians, were forced to register with more than 8,500 wrongfully imprisoned in concentration camps across the country. The award-winning film touches on the efforts made in the 1980s to bring this to light after public records about them were destroyed in 1954.
Nov 10, 7pm, $15. The Zoetic, 526 Concession Street, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 10: Live in Kingston
Jay Middaugh’s romantic comedy is a celebration of downtown Kingston’s live music scene. It follows eternal grad student, Emily, as she hustles between 12 concerts in six nights in a frantic quest to save the campus radio station, earn her final credits and find love and acceptance. Live in Kingston also includes performances by hometown favorites Sarah Harmer, PS I Love You, Forty Seven Teeth and more.
Nov 10, 7.30-9.15pm, $10. Elaine Mae Theatre, 25 Dundurn Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 10-12: Canadian Film Market
Rub elbows with industry insiders, film studios and filmmakers. There will be panels touching on film financing, distribution and the efforts to build a local industry in Hamilton.
Nov 10-12, 10am-5pm, $35 (for three day pass). Sheraton Hamilton Hotel, 116 King Street W, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 11: Scream For Me Sarajevo
The power of music is fully captured in this documentary about Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson’s massively influential 1994 concert in war torn Sarajevo. With the city in the midst of a three year siege, Scream for Me Sarajevo relives the remarkable story of the people who risked their lives to hold the concert and how the heavy metal show helped energize a local music scene struggling to simply feel human. Grammy nominee Alex Elena, who was Dickinson’s drummer at the time, will participate in a Q&A following what will be the documentary’s Canadian premier. Hamilton metal group Prismind will cap off the night with a performance.
Nov 11, 7-11pm, $15. The Zoetic, 526 Concession Street, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 12: Rust and Bone + Craig Davidson
St. Catherines born author Craig Davidson will discuss the Oscar nominated adaptation of his short story collection, Rust and Bone. The 2012 film about the complicated romance of a an unemployed boxer and a woman who trains killer whales that boasts powerful performances by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. Following its screening, Davidson will also be available to sign his new book, Precious Cargo.
Nov 12, 1.30pm, $15. The Zoetic, 526 Concession Street, Hamilton. Tickets.
Nov 12: Hammer It Home!
The Hamilton Film Festival wraps up appropriately with a celebration of local films. This double feature night includes Allen Saulnier’s Pinebox Fast, an action comedy set in the Hammer’s seedy underworld, and The Lone Paddler, Derek Lucosious’ horror film about friends on a camping trip and the twisted madman secretly pursuing them.
Nov 12, 8pm, $10. Staircase Theatre, 27 Dundunr Street N, Hamilton. Tickets.