The Winnipeg Underground Film Festival

May 30 to June 2

Supplied photo

Winnipeg is a city with a rich cinematic culture and history. As such, there’s no shortage of local film festivals during the summer season. However, for films that truly can’t be seen anywhere else, local cineastes should set their sights on the Winnipeg Underground Film Festival (WUFF).

Scott Fitzpatrick, the festival’s co-director, says the fest’s program focuses mostly on short films, with some feature films. “‘Experimental’ is a word we use a lot,” he says. “Some ‘underground’ festivals will show genre films, like underground slasher zombie movies ... primarily what we show is artist-driven short films.

Fitzpatrick says that the independent films shown at WUFF are usually small productions made by a single creator, or a small team led by an individual author. “The range of what that ends up looking like is, at the most extreme end, structural or abstract film. But we also show hybrid narrative films, experimental documentaries, things like that. Lately, we’ve been showing a lot of essay films, which is a subgenre of experimental documentaries. So it’s a pretty wide range of alternative moving image forms and movie styles.”

2024 marks the 11th year for WUFF. While the team behind the festival has rotated, Fitzpatrick has remained a key creative force behind it, stressing a work ethic that includes making sure that all participating artists get paid for their labour.

“We really emphasized that point early on, especially when we were still a real DIY festival with kind of spotty funding,” he says. While this might seem like a baseline necessity for anyone running a film festival, it’s not as common as one might think. “TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) is an example of a really big festival that’s getting millions of dollars of public funding and doesn’t pay short film screening fees ... so we’ve always made a political and artistic point of really of emphasizing (paying artists).”

Published in Volume 78, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 30, 2024)

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