Maple Ridge to showcase B.C. films

The inaugural film festival will feature films created in British Columbia, including Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

The film festival will include screenings of Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story (above); And below

The film festival will include screenings of Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story (above); And below

The inaugural Maple Ridge Festival of B.C. Film is coming to the ACT, celebrating talented filmmakers from across the province.

Over the course of three days, six short and six feature films will be presented, all of which were created in British Columbia.

“More and more films are being shot in the Maple Ridge area, and with The Ridge Film Studios a block away from the ACT, it felt quite logical to join forces and champion B.C. filmmakers,” said Lindy Sisson, executive and artistic director at the ACT Arts Centre.

John Wittmayer opened The Ridge Film Studios in downtown Maple Ridge on Jan. 1, 2015, and since has had more than 25 TV movies and two series filmed there.

Wittmayer is thrilled to be a founding partner along with the ACT of the film festival and said the talent that this province has to offer is “truly something to be proud of.”

Wittmayer had an idea to do something like this when he first opened his studio. He first wanted to offer an educational component to the studio, training for people to get into the movie business.

Then Wittmayer realized the beautiful theatre the ACT offers.

“Some of the film festivals around Metro Vancouver and mostly outside of Metro Vancouver, they don’t have really great facilities,” said Wittmayer, citing the Whistler Film Festival.

“It’s very successful and it’s done really well, but they don’t have something like the ACT theatre,” he said.

When Wittmayer and Sisson got together, they decided there was a niche market focusing a festival on movies made locally.

“There are a lot of film festivals like the Vancouver Film Festival that do very well, but they are not specifically targeting local film. They bring films internationally from around the world,” he said.

Every film in the Maple Ridge Festival of B.C. Film has a connection to the province, if not Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, whether it be the director, the producer, the actors, the crews or location.

Films were chosen by a committee of four people.

“We are trying to see what is a good fit for Maple Ridge and what we thought the audience here would appreciate. So it is a mixture of comedy, a mixture of drama,” said Wittmayer.

“I think we have a pretty good selection,” he added.

Marg Johnson, film production liaison for the City of Maple Ridge, is excited about the upcoming festival.

“It’s a fantastic way to recognize local talent in the industry, as well as showcase some of the beautiful locations in our community,” she said.

Lisa Prophet, publisher of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News, is a proud sponsor of the festival.

“The News is honoured to be title media sponsor of this upcoming event that brings film and art together into the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, a vital piece of the culture in our two cities,” she said.

The festival will kick off with an opening reception on Friday, March 17 at 6:30 p.m., followed by the screening of the feature film Numb and the short film Anxious Oswald Greene.

On March 18 at 5 p.m., the feature film Fractured Land will be screened.

The short Counter Act will also be presented that day, directed by Heath Affolter, Jon Affolter, Nathan Affolter and Thomas Affolter.

At 7:30 p.m. on March 18 will be the feature film Black Fly, directed by Jason Borque and starring Matthew MacCaull, Dakota Daulby and Christie Burke.

The short that day will be The Timekeeper, directed by Scott Weber and starring Tom McBeath, Nathan Dashwood and Tammy Gillis. It is about a watchmaker who pawns time from people who waste it. But he is forced to question his own use of time when confronted by someone who might value it more.

March 19 at 2 p.m. will be the screening of the feature film The Wingman. The short that day will be I Wanna Date U, directed by Lisa Ovies and starring Laura Adkin, Shaylen Anita and Daniel Arnold.

The screening of the feature film Lawrence and Holloman will be at 5 p.m. on March 19.

Monster, directed by Deborah Burns and starring Jodelle Ferland, R. Douglas Hutchinson and Dave Abustan, will be the short.

The festival wraps up with the screening of the feature Into the Forest – starring Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood and Max Minghella – at 7:30 p.m. on March 19.

The short, Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story is directed by Matthew Kowalchuk and stars Shauna Johannesen, Sebastien Archibald and Blu Mankuma.

Film festival

The Maple Ridge Festival of B.C. Film takes place from March 17-19 at The ACT Arts Centre at 11944 Haney Place in Maple Ridge. There will be a question and answer period following most of the movies with the directors and cast members. Tickets for the inaugural event are available online at theactmapleridge.org, by phone at 604-476-2787 or at the ACT Arts Centre, beside the Leisure Centre downtown Maple Ridge.

Tickets range from $11 for a single ticket, $27 for a three-pack and $50 for a 6-pack of tickets. Tickets purchased for the March 17 screening will include the festival’s 6:30 p.m. opening reception.