The Made IN Toronto Film Festival (MINT), a monthly documentary screening series, will be celebrating not only World Water Day on March 22, but also its one year anniversary. While each MINT event includes a film screening, the festival also works to stitch together Toronto’s film, music, and artistic communities around a central theme, and this month is no exception. The event will feature three documentary shorts, the documentary feature film Spoil , panel discussions, a juggler, musicians, and a comedian.
That may sound like an extraordinary event but, even though it’s an anniversary for MINT, it’s not out of the ordinary. Rather it is a perfect example of MINT’s mission to advocate and promote locally made projects and those who create them and to organize those communities around social and environmental topics. Over the past year, MINT has earned a reputation as a central place for showcasing local arts, lively debate, and community engagement.
In 2010, local musician and MINT Film Festival Executive Director Glen Alan attended the Planet in Focus Environmental Film Festival and he had occasion to chat with documentary filmmaker Liz Marshall. Her message to Glen was simple and direct, “Documentary filmmakers are a dying breed.” That idea shook Glen and he set about to make a difference. “Even though I’m coming from the music side, I appreciate documentaries. I think documentaries are a unique way of communicating an idea,” says Glen. “It seemed terrible that documentary filmmakers could be a dying breed.”
To do his part to remedy that situation, Glen launched MINT is March of 2011. The first event featured, appropriately enough, the award winning film Water on the Table , directed by Liz Marshall. The entire event focused on the topic of water and the world’s water problems, and the format and topic struck a chord in Toronto. “Our fist screening coincided with World Water Day, and the entire program centered around water.We almost filled the theater,” says Glen.
MINT has been drawing an engaged audience ever since. Every month highlights a new topic, from environmental and ecological issues to political ones, a gathering of musicians, experts, comedians, filmmakers and whoever else has something to add the conversation gather together and engage. While Glen always hopes that the audience is entertained (and by all accounts they are), his true aim is a bit more lofty. “We want to bring people together so they can become more informed. That helps to create an engaged citizenry,” says Glen. “It really helps when people are together in a room. The energy is tremendous.”
When asked why he choose to focus on Toronto so specifically, Glen does not miss a beat. “We have world class talent in Toronto,” he says. “There are great musicians here, and no one knows who they are. There are great filmmakers here. We want every person in Toronto to know them. We want to raise the profile of local people.”
It might seem odd that a monthly event is labelled a festival, but Glen made that choice quite consciously. For him, MINT is very much a film festival, but one that is achievable by anyone. He notes that film festivals can be fun, but taxing for ordinary people who have jobs. “Obviously the film community goes to see a lot of films and goes to festivals, but it can be challenging to see all the films in a festival,” says Glen. “I wanted a festival that was kind of a people’s festival and that anyone could attend. Anyone can go to an event one night a month.”
MINT’s full program for the March 22 event is packed with information and entertainment, just as Glen designs it to be. Doors open at The Royal Ontario Museum at 7:00 p.m. The pre-film entertainment includes comedian Derek Forgie, followed by live music from Jackie Richardson, Sterling Jarvis, pianist Steve Hunter, Dylan Bell, Suba Sankaran, and Glen Alan. Juggler Ted Joblin, performance artist Peter Jarvis, and painter Steve Houston will also perform. The film screenings kick off at 8:45 with the short film Dead Wrong ““ Stories of Fish, Clean Water & Poison , the feature film Spoil , and the short films GreenHeroes – Wangara Mathaai and The Moraine Can’t Wait: Save the Oak Ridges Moraine . The evening will conclude with a keynote presentation featuring Tony Clarke, and a panel discussion featuring Mike Sprague, Dave Ireland, and Liz Marshall. Also, World Wildlife Fund Canada a one night only photographic exhibit of the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers featured in the documentary Spoil .
For more information about MINT, the monthly events, or to purchase advance tickets visit the MINT website at http://mintff.org/.