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Atlantic Film Festival

written by: Shawn S. Lealos•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/16/2010

The Atlantic Film Festival in Nova Scotia is the fourth largest film festival in Canada. It is large enough to attract famous filmmakers but small enough to remain an intimate experience. Here is a look at what films you can expect to see and how you can enter one of your own.

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    Competition Categories

    The Atlantic Film Festival Association’s goal is to promote Atlantic Canadian cinema while remaining a gateway to the North American market. The Atlantic Film Festival accepts features, documentaries, animated films and shorts.

    The Atlantic Film Festival sorts all entries into nine programming groupings: Atlantic Focus, International Perspectives, Canadian Perspectives, Late Shift (horror and cult films), Frame x Frame (adult animation), That’s so Gay, ViewFinders @ AFF (family and children films), Special Programs, and the International Co-Production Market.

    Prizes awarded by the Atlantic Film Festival include $3,000 in film stock for the “Best Atlantic Short,” $1,500 in cash for “Best Original Screenplay,” a $2,500 film grant for “Best Documentary” and a $10,000 service package for “Best Canadian Feature.” Other awards include $10,000 in equipment for the “Cinematography Award,” an $8,000 editing package for “Best Canadian Short” and $50,000 in 3D services for the “Audience Award” winner.

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    How to Enter Your Film

    Filmmakers can enter their films either through the Atlantic Film Festival’s official website or through the Withoutabox.com film community. The deadlines for submission range from June to July ever year. Entry fees as of 2010 range from $20 with a Withoutabox discount up to $40 for the Extended Deadlines.

    The Atlantic Film Festival accepts submission copies through either an online screener or a DVD (Region 0 or Region 1). If accepted, the filmmaker must present the film on DigiBeta, BetaSP or 35mm formats. Films can originate from anywhere in the world but must have been completed 18 months prior to the festival.

    Submission to the features competition must be a minimum of 60 minutes while live action shorts must be 59 minutes or less. Animation and documentary films can be any length. Filmmakers must submit the films either in English, dubbed in English or subtitled.

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    Special Programs

    The Atlantic Film Festival offers a number of special programs during the event. An example of panels and workshops at the 2010 festival include a look at 3D filmmaking and film stills. The festival also offers many events for screenwriters including a script pitch event that offers a $10,000 development prize.

    Each year, the Atlantic Film Festival offers the previous year’s screenplay winner a chance to have their script receive a full read-through by professional actors. The festival also features roundtable discussions with the writers, producers and directors of the festival’s feature film entries.

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    Attending the Festival

    The Atlantic Film Festival offers three passes for attending the film festival:

    1. The Film Buff Pass offers the guest attendance to regular film screenings and the ability to purchase tickets to other events at the festival.
    2. The Music & Image Conference Pass includes entry to the music and image events at the festival while many film screenings are available at an extra cost.
    3. The Festival Delegate Pass gains entry to all events, screenings and parties, although the opening ceremonies require an RSVP.

    The Atlantic Film Festival screens more than 200 films from filmmakers like Stephen Frears, Woody Allen, Shang Yimou and Mike Leigh. Past winners include Ellen Page (“Wilby Wonderful”), Michael Moore (“Bowling for Columbine”) and Bruce McDonald (“The Tracey Fragments”).