Programmer Profile: Mark Flindall, Atlantic Film Festival

Mark Flindall
Mark Flindall

My name: Mark Flindall

My current festivals:Atlantic Film Festival and the ViewFinders International Film Festival for Youth.

My title: Programming Coordinator

Other fests I've worked for: None, this is my first. I started as a volunteer, and within a month I had a job. I was unemployed at the time, so I had lots of free time to try and impress. I should mention though that I do have the credentials with a BA in Film Studies from Brock University.

Movies that best represent my personal tastes:Being John Malkovich, Bottle Rocket, Cloverfield, Dazed and Confused, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fight Club, Groundhog Day, I Heart Huckabees, Lost in Translation, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Primer, The Big Lebowski, The Jerk, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou, Wall-E.

When I'm not watching movies I like to: Spend time with my girlfriend Trina and our two cats Chomsky and Papa. I also always enjoy working on our house, playing video games, drawing and watching too much TV (Lost, Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation, Daily Show, Colbert Report, Eastbound & Down, etc.).

A movie I recently programmed that I consider to be a great personal discovery: We definitely didn't premiere it, not even close, but I really loved the short The Surprise Demise of Francis Cooper's Mother. It really felt like something special, and it's also a pretty good distillation of my personal taste in film. It's deeply weird, animated, has cats in it, perfect narration, and the suggestion that life goes on no matter how stupid, insane or unsuitable for life we may be. Which is actually kind of an amazing statement. Did I mention it has cats?

When filmmakers ask me "What's different about your film festival?" I say: 

The accessibility. Who doesn't like to have all of their films (and the people related to those films) in one very compact, walkable, beautiful and historic city on the ocean? The fact that Halifax is an incredibly laid back, fun and culture loving city that likes to drink doesn't hurt at all either. We're also renowned for being extremely pedestrian friendly so no accidents when you're stumbling around town after our parties. Still not sold? We have a huge fort right in the middle of our city. So we're really nice but we're also kind of bad-ass.

Our festival audience has come to expect: The greatest films from here and abroad, with all of the amazing parties that go along with them.

We program the following categories of films:

For the Atlantic Film Festival: Narrative (Features & Short), Documentary (Features & Shorts), Animated (Features & Shorts) and Experimental Shorts

For ViewFinders: Films appropriate for an audience under 19, which include: Narrative (Features & Short), Documentary (Features & Shorts), Animated (Features & Shorts) and Youth-Made Shorts.

A recent trend I have noticed in submissions of which I approve: I'm not sure it's a trend exactly, but I definitely approve of full online submissions. The less things to process and take up space in our office, the better. But if you're not doing everything online (which you should be) please don't send stacks of paper, we want (brief) context, not a novel.

If I could impart one thing to filmmakers about submitting to my festival, it would be: Send in exactly what we ask for. And please dispense with the fancy packaging, It has the reverse effect of what you are going for, in that it impresses exactly no one. Save the passion for your film making, and the promotional effort for when your film actually gets in the Festival.

Last words: I would like to give a shout out to all of my many talented co-programmers, but especially Andrew Murphy and Lia Rinaldo, because without their support I never would've gotten this job. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to watch absurd amounts of movies with.