IFFO is back!

By Ossama Soffar

The International Film Festival of Ottawa (IFFO) is back! The festival runs virtually and in-person from 9 to 20 March. This is the first time the IFFO will run in-person. The previous version was online because of the pandemic conditions. Films and events will take place in downtown Ottawa. The sites will be the Ottawa Art Gallery, By Towne Cinema, and Mayfair Theatre. Some COVID-19 restrictions will end on March 1, including capacity, so the festival administration announced planned to be back in person.

“We tried to launch IFFO in March 2020. We were ready to go. We had Spike Lee coming and a great lineup. Then, we had to cancel it because of the pandemic altogether. Everything wasn’t very reassuring. And then the following year, we ran it online, which was great. And we had many people attending,” said Kelly Neall, managing Director of IFFO. “It is a collection of films that have been picked from other festivals and screened for the public. We wanted to bring together films of very high quality.”

IFFO chose the opening movie to express the theme of hope and returning to the homeland, which is the Canadian film WILDWOOD, directed and written by Bretten Hannam. The film tells a story about a rebellious two-spirit teenager. He runs away from home to find his birth mother and reclaim his Mi’kmaw heritage. It won two prizes from Atlantic Film Festival 2021. IFFO is organized by the Canadian Film Institute. The festival presents 50 international features, short films, and the best Canadian films.

Tom McSorley, executive director of IFFO, stated that 20 countries participated. The festival will discuss the cinema industry issues through two events. The SAVE AS program will take place on March 10 online and in person. The program is dedicated to examining the preservation of Canadian film heritage.

The festival also provides special programs. “Eyecandy” is one of them. It includes a collection of independent Canadian animated films, like Insect Express. Also, dead dad porn tapes from Charlie Terrell, Academy Award-nominated. Another film is “The Girl in the Hallway” by Valerie Barnhart, and Ivan Li’s provocative conversation starter, Finding Uranus. The second program is Café Ex: Trevor Anderson. The cafe was opened in 1998. It is an ongoing visiting artist series of the Canadian Film Institute offering artist-curated evenings of independent experimental film and video.