Winnipeg kicks off 2023 Real to Reel Film Festival following a COVID-19 hiatus

Film festival back after COVID-19 hiatus and organizers say it's important to see community members gather again. @_morganmodjeski reports.

By Morgan Modjeski

This weekend, Winnipeg will play host to an assortment of feature, short and documentary films in a celebration of the moving picture, as the city’s Real to Reel film festival is back in full force following a COVID-19 hiatus and organizers say it’s important to see the community gathering again.

“All the buzz and people working together, talking together, I love that feeling. Because film was meant to be seen in the community,” said Paul Boge, coordinator of Real to Reel Film Festival.

Boge says “nowadays, a lot of the time, we see films by ourselves, but to see them in the community and talk about them afterward is one of the best benefits of film festivals.”

Boge is the festival’s coordinator. He says the event received more than 250 submissions in 2023, with that number whittled down to 32 selections for the festival.

With more than 5,000 audience members expected over the course of the festival, he says these types of events play an important role in the city’s growing film industry community.

Paul Boge, coordinator of the Real to Reel Film Festival, says it’s exciting to see community members gather again in 2023. (Courtesy: Morgan Modjeski/CityNews)

“When kids are growing up in Winnipeg now, they can see a future in this city for making big, quality productions. So when they can see all of the different film people that are coming into Winnipeg, it’s no longer that you have to leave somewhere, to be a filmmaker, you can do that right here in Winnipeg.”

This year’s festival will see a variety of films and movies showcased, ranging from feature-length films like “Elvis the Pig” to “Back to Square One” a documentary that examines the expansion of a Mennonite Brethren radio ministry from Winnipeg to international audiences.

For Boge, he says connecting filmmakers to new audiences is an important part of the process of film-making overall, saying it’s at these events filmmakers get feedback and support that allows them to grow in their art, saying the festival attracts movie makers with budgets of $100 to millions.

He says “the number one way to become a filmmaker is to make a film … and so you don’t get better by hiding in a closet, you get better by making these films, putting them out there and hopefully getting them to a festival and then seeing it in front of an audience that’s not directly connected to you.”

The event is set to run throughout the weekend at the North Kildonan Mennonite Brethren Church and Boge says it’s not only a chance to help grow the industry but potentially inspire others as well, even if they’re just getting their footing in the industry.

“When you have a filmmaker who is able to talk to an audience directly, it helps to demystify the entire filmmaking process. In the end, these are people like you and me, who are making movies and connecting with an audience.”

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