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Okotoks film editor scores at film festival

A chilling documentary delving into the mind of a convicted killer gained an Okotoks film editor accolades in his community.

A chilling documentary delving into the mind of a convicted killer gained an Okotoks film editor accolades in his community. The Okotoks Film Festival Society awarded David Alderson the Best Editing Award for the documentary Manson: The Final Words during the Okotoks International Film Festival June 8-10. While several movies and documentaries produced by Pyramid Productions, where Alderson works, received awards, this was the first time Alderson was acknowledged personally for his editing. “It was unexpected, but I’m proud of what we did,” said Alderson last week. “It was a nice honour.” Manson: The Final Words was created from cellphone interviews with late American criminal Charles Manson in California State Prison. Manson got followers to commit numerous murders in 1969 and was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people. “It was interesting for sure, but also a little weird and crazy because it’s Charles Manson,” said Alderson. “When the idea was floated out there and he actually starts phoning you it’s like, ‘This is real.’ Until then it’s just an idea.” Although the crimes occurred almost 50 years ago and Manson was incarcerated up to his death last year, Alderson said the story still interests people. “There’s an ongoing fascination with this guy and people want to hear what he has to say for some reason, even though he mostly talks in gibberish or in such ways that he never gives you a straight answer but there is definitely a straight answer there,” he said. Alderson began his filmmaking career at a television station in Manitoba where he grew up. At the turn of the century, he began working for Pyramid Productions in Red Deer, then in Calgary. “They did a lot of entertainment programming and Hollywood-type stuff,” he said. “As the years went by projects evolved into different movies.” About 10 years ago Alderson moved to Okotoks. He’s been commuting to Pyramid Productions in south Calgary to work on documentaries featuring people like Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley and former professional hockey goalie Clint Malarchuk, who famously survived a life-threatening neck injury during a 1989 NHL game with the Buffalo Sabres. Having a film festival in his own community not only gives the opportunity for local filmmakers to showcase their talent, said Alderson, but it also offers an avenue to see talent from around the world. “They brought films from Spain and Italy that don’t get shown a lot outside of the festivals,” he said. “You can’t go to Landmark or Cineplex to see these kinds of movies. It’s a great avenue to check these films out.” This year marked the second for the Okotoks International Film Festival, which has seen growth in local filmmakers, calibre and spectators over last year, said society president Katie Fournell. She said approximately 400 people attended, including those who submitted films. “We had ticket sales at pretty much every screening, which was good to see,” she said. “It’s always exciting to see someone I don’t know at the festival. We will continue to chip away and become a big international force to be reckoned with that people will remember.” Fournell said she was surprised to see the lowest attendance at the kinder reels on Saturday morning. “We cannot figure out what the secret is to get parents to bring their kids to the movies,” she said. “Kids were offered for free.” The festival’s largest audience was for the screening of the 48 Hour Filmmaking Challenge, where teams were given a theme, line and prop as inspiration to create a film in two days. The workshops were also well attended, with 15 to 20 filmmakers in attendance, she said. “All filmmakers said they were phenomenal, and that’s who they’re for,” she said. “We run the workshops so there’s something educational the filmmakers can get out of coming to the festival.” Awards were presented to filmmakers after the festival programmers selected three for each category, which were narrowed down by western Canadian actors, editors, cinematographers and art directors. “We try and have three jurors for each category and each category has its own unique jurors,” he said. Winners of the festival are available at Winners of the 48 Hour Filmmaking Challenge were International Bubble Bursting Competition 1987 for Best Picture by Burning Sneakers (Calgary); Princess Cotton Candy Rainbow Sparkle Last Stand for Audience Choice and Best Use of Prop by the Damfinos (Okotoks); Surface Tension for Best Use of Line by Isometric Films (Calgary); and Chasing Bubbles for Best Use of Genre by Team Eagle (Okotoks). The Okotoks Film Festival Society will begin accepting submissions for next year’s festival on Sept. 1.

Tammy Rollie

About the Author: Tammy Rollie

Tammy Rollie is a staff reporter at and the Western Wheel newspaper, focusing on Wheel's West, local arts and culture and entertainment. For story tips contact
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