FIN Atlantic International Film Festival – Turning Halifax into Hollywood

Halifax has been home to the Atlantic International Film Festival, an eight-day celebration of film and media from around the world since 1982. However, the not-for-profit organization FIN, actually began as a small, grassroots operation in St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1981, relocating to Halifax the following year.  The FIN Atlantic International Film Festival has evolved over the past 38 years into one of Canada’s premier film festivals hosted in the nation’s ocean playground. Whether you are a film-lover, curious onlooker, or member of the industry itself, FIN offers waves of opportunities to engage through the celebration of film. 


The FIN Atlantic International Film Festival is a celebration of film and media from around the world that turns Halifax into an international mecca for the arts, a buzz with movie-lovers and filmmakers alike.  The festival offers a variety of local, national and international films that explore all corners of life, culture, entertainment and the global human experience.  This year’s event will have over 120 film screenings and a full slate of special events, to be presented over eight days in Halifax starting September 12th through to the 19th.
The much anticipated Opening Night Gala returns to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium at the Dalhousie Arts Centre with the debut of Murmur, a feature film from award-winning Halifax filmmaker Heather Young.  Murmur captures the quiet, contemplative story of a woman who, grappling with alcohol dependence and loneliness, struggles to find a way to ease the pain. Starring a cast of Nova Scotian non-professional actors, many of whom are playing themselves in the film, Young skillfully crafts an enduring story of aging and the human-animal connection.
Following the Opening Night Gala film presentation Murmur is the FIN Atlantic International Film Festival’s Opening Night Celebration, this is one of Halifax’s most anticipated parties of the year.  The red-carpet event will take place this year at the The Waegwoltic Club and it is an event not to be missed.

The festival runs through to September 19th when the Closing Night Gala takes place with the showing of The Lighthouse, which was directed by Robert Eggers (The VVitch). Eggers chose Nova Scotia’s Yarmouth and Cape Forchu as the place to shoot this dark and stormy tale of two men stationed on an off-shore lighthouse for four weeks in the late 1890’s. Over the course of the time they spend together, they descend into a maelstrom of terror and madness. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson both deliver Oscar-calibre performances alongside stunning black and white cinematography that beautifully captures the punishing weather of the Atlantic coast.  The showing of The Lighthouse followed by the time-honoured Closing Night Party to close the curtain on this year’s event.

“The Atlantic International Film Festival has always been about discovery of awesome films from around the world, and wow are we setting the bar this year,” said Wayne Carter, Executive Director. “From the astounding opener “Murmur” the debut featured from Halifax filmmaker Heather Young to the locally shot bonafide Oscar contender “The Lighthouse” as the closer, we are giving audiences the opportunity to travel around the world through film and back again with some of the best movies this year.”

However, in addition to the Festival’s Opening and Closing nights, there is lots to see as this year’s Gala Presentations lineup will once again feature screenings at both 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. featuring the newest and most anticipated films of the year, which will have moviegoers wanting to be first in line to see these amazing films with Atlantic Canadian Features and Documentary productions well represented throughout the event.

Returning to the Festival once again this year is the Restored! Program.  Screening as a compliment to the presentation of the final film by Agnès Varda (1928-2019), Varda by Agnès– in the Festival’s Documentaries Program – this year’s Restored Program features four seminal films directed by Varda throughout her career. One of the most important and innovative filmmakers in the history of cinema, the four Varda films included, that have recently undergone restoration efforts, are: Cléo de 5 à 7(1962), Le bonheur(1965), Mur murs(1980), and Vagabond (1985).
Also included in this year’s lineup is a wide selection of Short Film Programs, featuring both Canadian and international selections for festival goers to enjoy.
The 2019 Atlantic International Film Festival will host several one-of-a-kind special events and parties to celebrate the movies, the people and the city of Halifax.  Returning is Festival Music House AtlanticThis year’s lineup includes Halifax legend Matt Mays, one of R&B’s most exciting new starsReeny Smith and country music sensation, Makayla Lynn. The Festival will host the 39th Atlantic International Film Festival Awards Reception, honoring the amazing talents of Atlantic Canadian film industry professionals. 
FIN Partners, a unique event focusing on film, television, and digital fiction projects from across Canada and around the world, will take place from September 12th to 14th as part of FIN Atlantic International Film Festival. Each year, top Canadian and international industry players (including producers, investors, sales agents, funding agencies, broadcasters and distributors) are selected to attend. Recognized as one of the world’s pre-eminent co-production markets and celebrating its 22nd year, FIN Partners 2019 is shining the spotlight brightly on the United KingdomIreland, and the USA for the second of a two-year focus. Offering close to 1,000 pre-scheduled 1-2-1 meetings, co-production focused roundtable sessions, cutting edge panels, visionary keynote speakers, screenings and receptions as well as the popular Nova Scotia Lobster Dinner by the Sea, FIN Partners delivers unparalleled co-production and financing possibilities. 
This year, FIN Partners will welcome delegates from more than 20 countries from as far as New Zealand, Russia and India, as well as delegations from the UK and Ireland. Selected producers will attend with more than 100 creative and commercial projects in development, with the goal of moving their projects one step closer to production.
In addition to a full program of networking events and panel discussions with industry leaders, the market will kick off with an opening keynote conversation with London-based producer, Finola Dwyer, a twice Oscar-nominated, BAFTA award-winning film & television producer. Dwyer runs Wildgaze Films, one of the UK’s leading independent production companies with her producing partner Amanda Posey. In addition to acclaimed titles, including Their FinestOur Souls at NightAn Education, and more, Wildgaze’s 2016 film Brooklyntook the North American box office by storm and was nominated for three Oscars (including Best Picture) and six BAFTAs, winning the Outstanding British Film BAFTA. As a three-way co-production between the United Kingdom, Canada, and Ireland, Brooklyn is a shining example of the co-production potential within this year’s Spotlight region.
FIN Partners’ panel discussions explore co-production financing and up-to-the-minute distribution strategies and are stacked with some of the entertainment industry’s most influential leaders who are equipped with the knowledge and experience necessary to lead spirited discussions which will pique our curiosity, infusing new energy into the conversations we have on the ground at FIN Partners.

“The key ingredient of everything we do here at FIN is always the incredible support we receive from our sponsors and audience and when you mix that with top-drawer efforts from our staff and volunteers you have the mixture for magic,” added Carter. “We pride ourselves on producing events that are open and accessible to everyone.” 

For more information about FIN Atlantic International Film Festival, its many events or another other FIN event, visit:

by Jamie Barrie