NSI’s Shelly Quade reports from Toronto and Atlantic film fests

Jason M Arsenault, Shelly Quade, Adam Perry

Above from left: Jason Arsenault, Shelly Quade, Adam Perry

It’s festival season again. A time when several events piggyback one another over the fall months. Those of us lucky enough to attend adapt to the mayhem by learning to move seamlessly through meetings and parties, while surviving on canapes and sipping a glass (or two?) of something sparkling.

I just spent a whirlwind week travelling to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) followed by FIN: Atlantic International Film Festival in my hometown of Halifax. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be me (sometimes). I get to meet and greet heads of the industry and hobnob with celebrities (read: peeking at them around the corner of a hotel elevator).

This year I ‘met’ Liam Neeson. He was wonderful – or at least he seemed wonderful from what I could see of him as I skulked slowly past his table in the restaurant. Brushing his leg was an accident. Honestly. Angelina Jolie was within arm’s length – from the person taking her picture – as I rode up the escalator.

The National Screen Institute has its own celebrities that, for now, don’t need bodyguards or an entourage.

Congratulations to two of my favorite NSI Features First alumni, Josh Epstein and Kyle Rideout, the creatives behind the NSI-developed feature film Public Schooled. These guys are a class act and I couldn’t be prouder.

On one busy day, I was walking past a crowd of paparazzi in the hotel lobby and there, in the middle of flashing cameras, was Kyle. He saw me and reached right out to pull me in for a picture and a big hug. I attended the Public Schooled after party, along with NSI CEO John Gill, and I think we both felt like proud parents on our kids’ graduation day!

After spending several days at TIFF talking about NSI and all the magnificent work we do, I flew home to Nova Scotia where I represent NSI in the east. I felt excited to make new connections at the Atlantic Film Fest and be part of Strategic Partners, an annual international film co-production market.

I met producers from all over the world at the event, and made notes on who we could get to speak to our new NSI Features First teams at boot camp.

Part of my job feels like I’m a casting agent, always looking for the best person to fill a role that can make the NSI experience fulfilling for our students.

A huge thank you to Wayne Carter, executive director of FIN, who welcomed me like an old friend, and was instrumental in coordinating a festival that gives a clear voice for Atlantic creators.

I saw several films at FIN. I loved and laughed at Room For Rent produced by Kyle Bornais, Chris Charney and John Barnard (all NSI Features First), cheered on Adam Perry and Jason Arsenault (both NSI Features First) and their feature Blessing From The Sea. I’m seeing Public Schooled tonight in Halifax. It was completely sold out in Toronto.

Congratulations to all the NSI alumni who played a huge part in both these festivals. Every year our NSI presence gets bigger and louder. We celebrate you all, and here’s to another 20 films in the next 20 years!

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