There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted August 6th, 2015
Meaford Film Festival hosts rare photographs of events surrounding Selma march

The screening of Selma at the Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF) will be enhanced by a rarely seen exhibition of photos taken during this pivotal period in the American civil rights movement. Lynn Ball was freelancing in the darkroom at Canadian Press Toronto in the late winter of 1965 when he heard about the upcoming third march from Selma to Montgomery. Knowing it would an historic event, the aspiring news photographer packed his gear into his car and drove to Alabama, where he took a series of astonishing photos that sat in a drawer for the next 50 years.

Ball says that some of the photos were considered too controversial or racially charged to be published at the time by American, and even Canadaian, news organizations. “AP [Associated Press] sent out the pictures and then immediately sent out a kill order on them,” he told the Kemptville Advance.

These included photographs of white demonstrators in opposition to the march – images which still have the power to shock today.

White protesters in Selma Alabama 1965

News organizations wouldn’t publish photos of white protesters in Selma, Alabama in 1965 – Photo: Lynn Ball

“These pictures [white people waving signs displaying racial slurs] weren’t picked up by anyone,” Ball told the Advance. “No one would touch them.”

Some of Ball’s film was still undeveloped in a drawer until earlier this year. The 50th anniversary of the Selma march prompted Ball to develop and organize a photo essay, which premiered in Merrickville, Ontario in March.

The exhibit, along with a recorded interview with Lynn Ball, is currently being displayed by the Emancipation Festival at the Grey Roots Museum in Owen Sound. MIFF’s special exhibit is thanks to the efforts of Blaine Courtney, Emancipation Festival Chair. MIFF will also feature an additional exhibit from the Festival and Clarksburg’s Sheffield Park Black History Museum about their efforts to preserve and explore the black experience in Grey Bruce.

posted March 18th, 2015
“Big News from Grand Rock” director, Daniel Perlmutter, special guest at Meaford screening

The Grand Rock Weekly Ledger, like all small-town newspapers, is facing online competition and tough times. But editor Leonard Crane has a plan. He starts making up juicy stories, using the plots of movies from the 80s and 90s as inspiration. Readership soars… but then one of his stories catches the attention of a reporter from the big city.

That’s the plot of “Big News from Grand Rock”, a comedy starring Ennis Esmer, from CTV’s “The Listener”, and featuring perennial favourite Gordon Pinsent.

“For his debut feature, writer-director Daniel Perlmutter keeps the proportions exactly right,” writes Ken Eisner of The Georgia Straight, “balancing a steady stream of small laughs with a story that engages, mainly through the hearty efforts of actors all on the same page—Page One, you could say.”

Big_newsThe movie, in which nearby Midland stands in for “Grand Rock”, is tomorrow’s Thursday Flick at Meaford Hall, and the audience is in for a special treat. Daniel Perlmutter will be a special guest at the screening, answering questions after the film.

Bruce Kirkland, of the Toronto Sun also gives the film a rave review. “I applaud Perlmutter and his producers… for so bravely conjuring up this quaint and slightly surreal saga about the threat to community newspapers,” he writes “And for making it so appealing, not just to newspaper junkies but to a wider audience because of the comedy and the romance in the story.”

Thursday, March 19 at 4pm. Tickets: $10 and available by phone, online and in person.

posted December 22nd, 2013
Meaford stars in “One Magic Christmas”

If you’ve ever seen the (somewhat sombre) Disney holiday classic “One Magic Christmas”, you’ve had a look at Meaford at Christmas. While the film, which stars Mary Steenburgen and Harry Dean Stanton, was filmed in February, back in 1985, locations in snowy Meaford created scenes of Christmas.

Steenburgen’s character, Ginny, works in the downtown grocery store, which was known as Glen’s Food Market at the time. The (spoiler alert!) bank that’s robbed is the Bank of Montreal, kitty corner to Glen’s at Trowbridge and Sykes. And when the stolen car peels away, it speeds up Trowbridge to turn at Cook Street. You can see the Hilltop Motel sign a couple of times in one driving scene. And Meaford Hall, at the time the town hall, makes an appearance.

Here’s the Disney Channel trailer:

But Meaford scenes appear more in this mock “horror” trailer, including the first crane shot of downtown.

posted August 29th, 2013
MIFF kicks off tonight!

MIFF, the Meaford International Film Festival, kicks off this evening, with “The Parade”, a “tragicomedy about Balkan war criminals and gay bashing”, followed by the opening night gala featuring food from Creative Choices Catering, coffee from Ashanti Coffee, beer from Kilannan Brewing Co., wine from Colio estate wines, and of course… popcorn!

Meaford International Film Festival

The festival runs through Sunday night. Visit the website for all the details.

posted February 12th, 2012
Big screen movies in Meaford every Thursday

Back in the old days, every small town had it’s own cinema, whose marquee ushered you into the smell of popcorn and the Saturday night glow of the screen. Meaford was no exception. The Capitol Theatre started life as Morrison’s Star Theatre on December 20, 1909, hosting vaudeville troupes, silent movies, and then the talkies, showing the latest movies right up into the 80s.

But the Capitol, like most of those small town theatres, drew the curtains on the big screen more than 25 years ago, and though for awhile it was home to Capitol video, an echo of its past, the days of going out to the pictures faded from town.

Capitol Theatre

The old Capitol Theatre (Google streetview)

Today, if you want to catch the latest blockbuster, both Collingwood and Meaford have Galaxy Cinemas, with six or so large screens apiece. But every second Thursday, the lights go down and the big screen comes alive in Meaford, and for $10 you can see recent releases of interesting and offbeat films – the stuff the big Galaxies don’t show.

And you can enjoy comfortable cushioned chairs or even catch the movie from the balcony in Meaford Hall’s restored theatre.

Here’s a taste of what’s coming up at “Thursday flicks” at Meaford Hall. Many of these films just hit the screens in the last few months. Buy five tickets and save!

Thursday February 16, 4pm | The Guard
The Guard is a comedic fish-out-of-water tale of murder, blackmail, drug trafficking and rural police corruption. Two policemen must join forces to take on an international drug-smuggling gang: one, an unorthodox Irish policeman, and the other a straight-laced FBI agent. Starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle.

Thursday March 1, 4pm | Beginners
When it comes to relationships, we’re all beginners. This film imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent) only months after his father Hal Fields (Golden Globe winner Christopher Plummer) had passed away.

This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father, who, following the death of his wife of 45 years, came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. The upheavals of Hal’s new honesty brought father and son closer than they’d ever been able to be. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humour, and hope that his father taught him.

Thursday March 15, 4pm | The Debt
The espionage thriller begins in 1997, as shocking news reaches retired Mossad secret agents Rachel (Helen Mirren) and Stefan (Tom Wilkinson) about their former colleague David (Ciarán Hinds). All three have been venerated for decades by their country because of the mission that they undertook back in 1965, when the trio tracked down Nazi war criminal Vogel (Jesper Christensen) in East Berlin. At great risk, and at considerable personal cost, the team’s mission was accomplished – or was it? The suspense builds in and across two different time periods, with startling action and surprising revelations.

Thursday March 29, 4pm | Le Havre
In this warm-hearted portrait of the French harbour city that gives the film its name, fate throws young African refugee Idrissa (Blondin Miguel) into the path of Marcel Marx (André Wilms), a well-spoken bohemian who works as a shoe shiner. With innate optimism and the unwavering support of his community, Marcel stands up to officials doggedly pursuing the boy for deportation. A political fairy tale that exists somewhere between the reality of contemporary France and the classic cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville and Marcel Carné, Le Havre is a charming, deadpan delight. Winner at Cannes, Chicago and Munich film festivals.

Thursday April 12, 4pm | Monsieur Lazhar
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Philippe Falardeau and from the producers of last year’s Academy Award®–nominated Incendies, Monsieur Lazhar is one of the most gripping Québécois films of the last decade. The film has already received extraordinary atten¬tion, including Best Canadian Feature Film at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

Following the tragic and shocking death of a Montreal schoolteacher, Bachir Lazhar– a middle-aged Algerian immigrant seeking political refuge in Quebec – swiftly pursues the opportunity to fill the sudden vacancy and come to the aid of the over¬worked principal and students affected by this tragedy.

The Artist

Thursday April 26, 4pm | The Artist
Hollywood 1927. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent movie superstar. The advent of the talkies will sound the death knell for his career and see him fall into oblivion. For young extra Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), it seems the sky’s the limit – major movie stardom awaits. The Artist tells the story of their interlinked destinies. Winner of three Golden Globe awards.

Thursday May 10, 4pm | The Descendants
The Descendants is a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant journey for Matt King (George Clooney), an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from the Hawaiian royalty and missionaries. Winner of two Golden Globes.

Thursday May 24, 4pm | My Week with Marilyn
In 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), just down from Oxford and determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant for six months on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The film famously united Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Golden Globe winner Michelle Williams), who was at the same time, on a honeymoon with her new husband, playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott).

Throughout filming, each evening Clark wrote the day’s events in a diary. Nearly 40 years after, Clark’s book “The Prince, the Showgirl and Me” was published, but with one week missing. The account of that week was published some years later as “My Week with Marilyn.” When Arthur Miller left England, Colin had the opportunity to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life; an idyllic week in which he escorted a celebrity desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work.

posted August 27th, 2011
Meaford International Film Festival slates three interviews

As the Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF) approaches – it kicks off next Thursday, folks – the producers have announced a series of interviews which will round out the screenings of three of the films.

Christopher Thomas, popular host of CBC radio and television programs, will take the stage after the screenings for these interviews.

Following Thursday’s premiere Canadian screening of The White Meadows, Thomas will be interview Marina Nemat, the well-known author of two books about her experiences in prison in Tehran, where she was sentenced to death for her political actions. The Iranian film makers of The White Meadows are currently under house arrest in Iran, and Nemat will shed light on why this film is so threatening to the current regime.

The White Meadows at MIFF

On Friday, Mila Aung-Thwin, one of the Canadian producers of Last Train Home, will discuss his film, the changes sweeping China and the special challenges of making films there.

On Saturday, MIFF presents an interview with Justin Chadwick, the director of The First Grader (and The Other Boleyn Girl). He’ll discuss the background to the film, and the difficulties he encountered when filming in a remote part of Kenya.

“We’re honoured that we can bring these interviews to MIFF,” says Festival Producer Michael Anderson. “One of our goals at MIFF is to show other cultures and ways of life, and our distinguished guests will bring special insights that will greatly increase our enjoyment of these films.”

posted July 29th, 2011
Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF) lineup announced

Just got back from the press conference announcing the lineup for this year’s Meaford International Film Festival. Yes, I did say Meaford International Film Festival – or as it’s affectionately known, MIFF. It looks like another stellar year of films. (The tagline is “four nights, four films, four parties”, though as MIFF producer Michael Anderson pointed out this morning, some people prefer to phrase it “four nights, four parties, four films”.)

The festival was the brainchild of Sundance-nominated documentary filmmaker (and Meaford resident) Gough Lewis, who together with Anderson shepherded MIFF to an amazing debut at Meaford Hall in 2007.

Using the concept of the best of festival-screened films, the team scoured the globe for works that had won prizes at major film festivals. (MIFF has been the first to show a number of films in Canada, and has scooped the Toronto International Film Festival on more than one occasion, showing a film in Meaford weeks before its Toronto debut.) Opening night of the first festival featured “An Unreasonable Man” which examined the career of Ralph Nader – followed by Shane Jolley, local Green Party candidate, interviewing the subject himself via video teleconferencing (this was pre-Skype, I think.)

After each film, those with party tickets attend a gathering in the Hall to join friends and meet with luminaries who are featured in post-screening discussions.

So… this year’s lineup. Well, I’ll let the MIFF release tell the story:

The Festival opens on Thursday, September 1, with The White Meadows, a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece that takes place on Lake Urmia in Iran. The White Meadows won the Denver Film Festival for Best Feature Film as well as several other international film awards. The story is about Rahmat, who is sent by his job to travel to different islands, something he has been doing for many years. They ask for him to collect the tears of the inhabitants of these islands. Although these inhabitants have been giving their tears to Rahmat for many years, no one really knows what he is doing with them. The film is centered in Iran and the language is Persian. Film will be sub-titled or dubbed where available.

On Friday night, we show Last Train Home. This is an emotionally engaging and visually beautiful debut film from Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan that draws us into the fractured lives of a single migrant family caught up in the annual migration of Chinese migrant workers home for the Chinese New Year. Sixteen years ago, the Zhangs abandoned their young children to find work in the city, consoled by the hope that their wages would lift their children into a better life.

Intimate and candid, the film paints a human portrait of the dramatic changes sweeping China. We identify with the Zhangs as they navigate through the stark and difficult choices of a society caught between old ways and new realities. This film has won numerous awards including Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival. [Anderson mentioned he hoped to line up star Naomie Harris for a post-screening interview, noting that she’s soon to be a Bond girl, which would make his life complete. Looks like she’s going to be Moneypenny, but that’s close enough!]

On Saturday night, we have the true story of a hero from Kenya. The First Grader is set in a mountain village in Kenya and tells the remarkable true and uplifting story of a proud old Mau Mau veteran who is determined to seize his last chance to learn to read and write – and so ends up joining a class alongside six year-olds. Together he and his young teacher face fierce resistance, but ultimately they win through – and also find a new way of overcoming the burdens of the colonial past. This film won awards at TIFF, Teluride, London and Doha Tribeca Film Festivals. The language is English.

Following tradition, the Closing Gala is the film that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. In a Better World is the story of Anton, a doctor, who commutes between his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and his work at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness. Their older, ten-year-old son Elias is being bullied at school, until he is defended by Christian, a new boy who has just moved from London with his father, Claus. Elias and Christian quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, their friendship is tested and lives are put in danger. Ultimately, it is their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy. The languages spoke are Danish, Swedish, English and Arabic.

(Here’s a tip based on previous festivals. Three of this year’s screenings are subtitled. While Meaford Hall has generally excellent viewing from all areas, the guest in front of you just might make it hard to read the subtitles, so get your tickets early and be up front, or consider the balcony.)

The afterparties this year have a bonus for the first 400 people to buy party tickets. You’ll get a coupon booklet from Lora Bay Golf Club packed with $400 worth of deals, including two-for-one greens fees and two-for-one meals at the Raven Grill. And a trivia contest each night will reward the winner with a gift basket packed with amazing prizes.

To learn more and see the trailers, visit the website here.