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Films set to roll at Blue Mountain festival

'It’s a really unique festival set in a unique location. And there’s a lot of magic that happens,' says organizer

The job of rolling out the red carpet for an international film festival in a village is about as big as the screens the films are screened on. 

“It was a rather ambitious project,” begins Patti Kendall.

As executive director of the nonprofit Blue Mountain Village Association, Kendall helped launch the Blue Mountain Film and Media Festival, serving as its managing director. That was two years ago. Last year, in its second year, the celebration of films doubled its attendance. And all indications are this year’s iteration May 30 to June 2 will beat that.

With 22 international films, nine short films from Canada, speakers, parties and music all packed into four days set in the backdrop of the area’s ski village with all its attractions, restaurants and shops, the event is geared to attract not just movie enthusiasts but filmmakers and content creators as well. Last year the event attracted 7,000 people, drawing from the area’s rich artistic community as well as Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area.

Two ballrooms are transformed into cinemas, one for 300 people and the other for 250, with the help of technicians from the Toronto International Film Festival.

The festival opens with Call Me Dancer. Described as a real-life Billy Elliot, the film tells the story of a Mumbai taxi driver’s son who is determined to follow his dreams and become a dancer.

Other films include the love story Ama Gloria, In the Land of Brothers – a Sundance Festival winner which follows the history of an extended Afghani refugee family in Iran across three chapters and the Welsh musical comedy Chuck Chuck Baby. For the full list go to Tickets & Schedule – Blue Mountain Film Festival (

The films are curated by artistic director Helen duToit, a producer who came from the Palm Springs International Film Festival via film festivals in Toronto and Vancouver. Kendall describes it as the best of films the world over, including Canada, which is usually represented at the Blue Mountain festival with five or six films.

“It’s a really unique festival set in a unique location. And there’s a lot of magic that happens,” says Kendall. “The films start in the morning of Thursday, May 30 with the opening night event of a film and a patio party in the village.

“At the same time, we have a three-day creative forum that starts on the Thursday as well” with panels, network executives and film producers.

Also on tap are two creative forums for industry professionals and content creators which includes traditional films and podcasts on May 31 and June 1. The idea, Kendall explains, is to provide an opportunity for other content creators to explore opportunities to monetize their work.

That leads up to a partnership with the Toronto Buffer Festival on June 1 screening the films from 10 digital makers.

New this year is a submissions program including the submission of short films from Ontario.

The festival fits with the mandate of the village association to host signature events to promote the unique qualities of the village, which has served as the setting for films and television shows. A reality television series with RuPaul recently wrapped with plans to air in the fall and the hope is that others will follow.

“This is part of a strategy to build the film production business in the area,” says Kendall whose organization hosts location tours to bring films and shows to the area. "This is one of the tools we use to have the industry come here to see what’s available to them.”

The festival closes with The Taste of Things with Juliette Binoche.

For more information on the festival and tickets visit