HIFF Newsletter • May 28, 2019




by Joshua Bonnetta & J.P. Sniadecki
June 15 • 9 pm •Neptune Scotiabank Stage Theatre

HIFF is thrilled to announce our 13th annual festival will close with a screening of El Mar La Mar, filmmaker duo J.P. Sniadecki and Joshua Bonnetta's transcendent experimental doc.

The Harvard Sensory Ethnography lab is a household name in the world of modern experimental documentary filmmaking. Works produced by the lab are distinguished by their immersive aesthetics and keen attention to cultural detail. This influence is profoundly felt in El Mar La Mar, the latest film from lab alumnus Sniadecki and Canadian co-director Bonnetta. El Mar La Mar captures the harrowing, mythic experience of life at the U.S.-Mexico border through pure cinema. Vast soundscapes and hand-processed 16mm images envelop and challenge viewers to not just see and hear the desert, but to reckon with it. Formally brilliant, effortlessly political, and never clinical: El Mar La Mar is a towering achievement that outstrips current conceptions of the documentary as an art form.

Tickets are available here.

"The result is simultaneously elusive and concrete: abstract cinema that packs a punch."

— Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

"El Mar La Mar is the rare film to subordinate its form to the landscape it's set in. To watch it attentively is to surrender, for ninety minutes, to the slow-motion pace of Sonoran life."

— Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

Check out the trailer here:

HIFF's closing night screening of El Mar La Mar is co-presented by Carbon Arc Cinema, Halifax's only independent cinema! Keep up to date with the latest Carbon Arc news and screenings at www.carbonarc.ca


haus of haraway

by Séamus Gallagher
OPENING: June 12 • 6 pm •Neptune Theatre Lobby

Throughout HIFF, Séamus Gallagher's stunning virtual reality creation haus of harawaywill be on display in the Neptune Theatre lobby. Join us on June 12 at 6pm for our Opening Night Reception and haus of haraway's unveiling.

haus of haraway is a VR piece inspired by donna haraway’s
1985 essay a cyborg manifesto, within which she writes:
"The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family... 
The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden;
it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust." 
this piece pulls from the idea of a cyborg rejecting the “organic family”
and positions it within the context of drag “houses”
which serve as alternative, self-made families meant to be safe spaces.

haus of haraway is a virtual stroll through a house that is disjointed and sleek;
fluid and completely inorganic.

Experience haus of haraway for yourself free of charge for the duration of HIFF—no festival pass or ticket required!



Every year, HIFF brings programmers from prestigious Canadian and international festivals to Halifax to watch local shorts and host valuable one-on-one meetings with regional filmmakers. 

The Programmer Initiative is a unique opportunity for Atlantic Canadian filmmakers to meet face-to-face with programmers from around the world and make meaningful connections within the international film festival circuit. 

The programmer meetings are free for HIFF 2019's participating filmmakers and take place Thursday June 13, 1pm–3pm. Additional access may be available—please send enquiries to hiff@afcoop.ca. For more info, visit our website.

This year we welcome:

Émilie Poirier • Festival du nouveau cinéma

Anita Tavakol •  Toronto International Film Festival

Miranda Mungai • London Short Film Festival

Brighid Wheeler • Indie Memphis Film Festival

Lori McCurdy, Regional Feature Film Executive from the Atlantic Region of Telefilm Canada, is also available for meetings.


Where are you from originally?

Chester, NS.

What was the inspiration for the film you’re presenting at HIFF?

The film I’m presenting at HIFF is also the music video I made with Emma Adamski for Halifax indie band Strongboy’s song “Doesn’t Matter.” We were paired together as part of AFCOOP and Mirus Records’ SYNC Music Video Program. For me, Brett [Jarrett]’s lyrics, the mood of the song, and an added self-help recording to the top and bottom of the track manufactured what would be emoted on my end.

What films or filmmakers inspired you to make your own?

I’ve always made films up in my mind and this is my first time translating a story or concept I’ve conceived so others could see it too in this manner. However, well done documentaries have been my main influence to join this industry. I am a journalist by trade and I wish to use this medium to share important stories in an impactful manner.

What are your hobbies or pastimes that aren't related to film?

I love to read, write, dance and be outside in nature—dog walking, biking and hiking. Yoga keeps me centred. I dabble with art practices and pretend to know how to sail.

Where are you from originally?

Lahave, NS.

What was the inspiration for the film you’re presenting at HIFF?

The world needs more good vibes and singing dinosaurs.

What's your favourite/least favourite part of the filmmaking process?

I love figuring out all the tricky special effects and physically building the world. Dislikes: Gorilla glue on my hands.

What’s your most memorable theatre-going experience and why?

I thought Harry and the Hendersons was scary.

HIFF's Atlantic Auteurs shorts program
— Friday, June 14 at 9 pm
These films will screen along with nine other works made by established and up-and-coming filmmakers from across the region. Learn more about the full program here. 

View our 2019 trailer below to get a sneak peek at this year's selections:


HIFF wouldn't be possible without the generous support of community sponsors like Venus Envy, downtown Halifax's award-winning sex shop & bookstore. Thanks for all that you do!

For more on Venus Envy's upcoming workshops, click here.

About HIFF

Now in its 13th year, HIFF provides a unique venue for filmmakers and media artists to share their work in a forum dedicated to the celebration of independent cinema. Since its inception, HIFF has showcased the Atlantic region's most innovative works alongside the films of acclaimed visiting artists. As a filmmaker's festival, HIFF brings the directors of the works we show to Halifax in order to create opportunities for them to connect directly with audiences and local artists through hosted Q+A's, artist talks and workshops. HIFF also presents a number of professional development initiatives, designed to assist local filmmakers with improving their skills and getting their films programmed at festivals around the world.   


HIFF is made possible with support from AFCOOP, the province of Nova Scotia, Canadian Heritage, Arts Nova Scotia, the City of Halifax, The Coast and Telefilm Canada.

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ABOUT AFCOOP: Established in 1974 the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP) is a non-profit, community organization dedicated to supporting the production and presentation of independent film and moving image-based work in a collaborative, learning environment.

AFCOOP operates with generous support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of Nova Scotia and the City of Halifax.