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Okotoks Film Society screening festive cheer

Festival kicks off in person and online Dec. 17 at Okotoks Cinemas
SCENE-Festive Film Festival BWC 3336 web
Okotoks Film Society festival director Katie Fournell has organized the Festive Film Festival, featuring ten films from around the world to be screened at Okotoks Cinemas on Dec. 17.
The Okotoks Film Society (OFS) is getting in the spirit of the season with their Festive Film Festival.

“This was a really cool way to both celebrate filmmakers and celebrate Christmas at the same time,” said OFS festival director Katie Fournell.

“I personally just love Christmas — I’m that person on Nov. 12 who’s just like ‘Can we start celebrating now?’”

The in-person component kicks off at 7 p.m. Dec. 17 at Okotoks Cinemas, with an online component similar to last year’s event, viewable then and after.

The holiday event started in 2020 as an online-only event when the COVID-19 pandemic put their usual Christmas film screening on hold.

“It was kind of born out of the pandemic, we originally started last year when things got shut down in November,” Fournell said. “We realized our classic Christmas movie probably wasn’t going to hit the same if everybody was watching it at home by themselves.

“So I thought ‘What can we do for Christmas instead to still have something Christmassy?’”

There was already some films submitted for their regular spring festival that were a better fit for winter.

“We had a couple films submitted to the regular festival that were Christmas-themed, and said we can’t show these in June, which is too bad because they’re good films,” Fournell said.

“We decided to turn it into a permanent part of our calendar year, and make it an in-person event as well as the online component.”

At the new in-person event, festival-goers can even get a photo with Santa on the red carpet or grab some eggnog and cookies at intermission.

“The whole in-person component is completely new to us,” Fournell said.

“We have 10 short films from around the world that we’ve selected to screen.”

One film will be a stop-motion animation by Shawna and Alyssa Koski, who have had entries in every festival held by the OFS to date.

While this year’s offerings are all Christmas films, Fournell said the OFS happily accepts films featuring other cultural holidays.

In addition to the showings will be a live Q-and-A.

“I’m really excited because it’s going to be live,” Fournell said. “Some of the filmmakers attending are going to be waking up at like four o’clock in the morning to be able to attend — we have Greece, Germany, Norway and the UK."

There will be an option to purchase an online-only ticket, but in-person ticket-holders will also get access to the online component, which will be available until Jan. 2.

“This year we’re giving everybody who has a ticket to the festival access to the Films on Demand, so they can go and relive them, or if they’re at their Christmas party, they can then show it to their friends,” Fournell said.

Parental discretion is advised, she pointed out, with a rough guideline of ages 12 and up, due to some emotionally heavy subject matter peppered throughout the program.

“We’re not going to turn anybody away, but there are a few (films) that have a darker undertone than maybe younger kids would appreciate, and some of the films have strong language,” said Fournell, adding the overall feel would still be cheerful and positive. 

“It’s a very happy Christmas feel by the end of the festival and I promise you’ll feel merry and bright.”

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Brent Calver

About the Author: Brent Calver

Award-winning photojournalist for the Okotoks Western Wheel and
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