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New name, new year for Durham film festival

DRIFF extends submission deadline to July 14 for filmmakers

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The Durham Region Film Festival is growing up, and leaving the nest.

Originally organized by the Region of Durham, the festival has gained non-profit status and is now run by the community within which it serves, something that will help the event grow in the future according to Eileen Kennedy.

Kennedy, an economic development officer and film liason with the region, was instrumental in launching the inaugural event in 2015, and now, as a member of the steering committee, hopes to take the event to the next level.

“It can grow and expand into places it couldn’t before,” she says.

The first order of business for the newly minted group was a new name to better suit the wide-reaching influence the festival is starting to attract. Now, the Durham Regional International Film Festival, or DRIFF, as it will come to be known, has been accepting film submissions from across North America and the group has extended the deadline for filmmakers to submit their works to July 14.

“The reason for the extension is obviously we’re trying to curate as many film submissions as we can,” Kennedy says.

To date, the festival has already accepted between 60 and 70 films that may form part of the weeklong event in September, and last year, those films represented works from over 20 different countries.

Running from Sept. 18 to 24, the weeklong festival will include moving screenings at the Regent Theatre throughout the week, industry workshops and a new addition this year that will see films screened at Landmark Theatre.

On top of that, the festival will have a full day at Docville in Newcastle of filming and a behind the scenes look at making a movie.

“It’s not only viewing and screening of films but it’s also learning the behind the scenes stuff,” Kennedy explains.

The festival offers awards and prizes in 10 different categories including: best animated short, best feature film, best documentary feature, and best student film among others.

Filmmakers looking to submit can find more information at https://filmfreeway.com/festival/DurhamRegionFilmFestival.