Hamilton Film Festival’s founder, Nathan Fleet answers the big questions

It’s hard to believe that the Hamilton Film Festival (HFF) has been around for 12 years. Actually, fun fact – it’s been around for 15 years (previously under the name ‘Lost and Underground’). They bring in films from over 50 countries and select fantastic films regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion or gender. I started covering it 2 years ago and immediately fell in love with everything from the people to the environment. Nathan Fleet, the founder, has been nothing but supportive and welcoming. With HFF taking place from November 4th to 12th, I sat down with Nathan to provide the inside scoop.

Q: HFF is known for showing “the best undiscovered local and international films”. Can you take us through the selection process?

NF: It is the same for everyone that enters. A film is submitted, a programmer will watch it, rate it and make suggestions. Once we have watched 100% of the films, we start going through our “must haves” and work back from there based on ratings, jury comments and any stand-out mentions like “award winning”. We are also very conscious of local films and really aim to make sure we are offering screen time to local and/or emerging filmmakers. Having said that, we do reject local films if they are not quite ready for a theatrical screening.

Photo provided by Hamilton Film Festival

Q: This year’s theme is music, something that has a very special place in your heart. Why is it important to you and how will you be personally honouring your love for music at the festival?

NF: Ah yes. I am first a musician and second a filmmaker. 12 is my favourite number and since we are in our 12th year, I decided I wanted to have some fun this year and really enjoy the festival. I decided on a music theme and that was that. I will also be opening the festival with my band and performing a rock show at the Zoetic! I haven’t been on stage with my own band since 2000. I also decided to release my latest CD “Love Hate City”, which has been 10 years in the making, and definitely about Hamilton!

Q: How has HFF evolved over the last 12 years?

NF: Slowly and organically. Starting off with just a single 90min spot for local films, we’ve opened that up to 9 days, 6 venues and 150 films! Things really picked up once word-of-mouth kicked in, probably in our 8th year, and we now get films from over 50 countries.

Photo provided by Hamilton Film Festival

Q: People of all ages can take part in the festival. Tell us about the Kids Can Film program?

NF: This is a program we’ve been running for a while. It used to be called Film Club Films but we wanted to open it up to any child making movies. We work with film groups year round and are always mentoring young filmmakers and just by knowing that we offer this, many come forward wanting to screen. There is no jury process with this. Once we’ve found 60 minutes of films, we cap it. We were so fortunate to have Peregrine Discovery sponsor the entire Kids Can Film screening so it is free to attend. We also have an improv acting workshop for the kids after the movies. It will be fun! We had to move the event to The Zoetic as the Staircase tickets all went before we could open to the public.)

Q: For those who have never attended HFF, why should they come out this year?

NF: Some of these films, from Iran, Germany, USA and all across Canada, will never be in theaters again and are not the kind of films that will show up in your searches. These are incredible works of art that deserve to be seen. We have something for everyone. Documentaries, Drama, Comedy, Horror, Animation, Family, Experiential and 3 live concerts! We’re screening 150 movies and I guarantee there is something in there for you.

You’re not going to want to miss this festival. The amount of people to connect with – filmmakers and film fans – is unreal. There are a number of those people that show their face each year, even if they don’t have a film showing. The energy around the HFF is undeniable and it never fails to bring out film lovers.
All tickets will be processed by Hamilton’s Brüha and for the full film festival program as well as trailers, visit www.hamiltonfilmfestival.com.