By Gabrielle Tieman
Film enthusiasts, foodies and wine connoisseurs alike are all guaranteed to be swept off their feet by Filmalicious and its unparalleled outdoor movie experience.
The Niagara Integrated Film Festival could not have chosen a better backdrop for the Canadian Premiere of Sundance Film Festival favourite People, Places, Things than host venue Southbrook Vineyards. Pairing their juxtaposed modern organic vineyard with seasonally inspired appetizers, homegrown wines and a fantastic film under the stars, it was an incredible evening that truly celebrated how wonderful and unique the Niagara Region is.
Included in the price of the ticket were two seasonally inspired appetizers – a rich pork hock terrine and a delicate cone of strawberries doused in petite verdot vinaigrette and Elgin Buffalo Cheese – a retro bag of light popcorn and a glass of wine. Each dish was perfectly paired, mimicking the warm June evening, the produce of Niagara and the casual content attitude of the winery.
The venue and staff exuded a presence that encouraged film goers to relax and enjoy their evening with ease and leisure. Ushered through the modern and naturally lit tasting bar of Southbrook, film goers were escorted onto a beautiful outdoor terrace surrounded by the vineyard and serenaded by a musical duet playing some of the feature songs from the soon to be enjoyed film. Offering a selection of salads, charcuteries and thin crust pizzas fresh from the outdoor wood oven, there was no shortage of homegrown food or wine. As the sun disappeared, film goers were escorted into a large white tent nestled amongst the grapes; boasting a large screen and [surprisingly] comfortable chairs, the film began and swept us off our feet.
The film, as well as the evening, can be described in a single word: lovely. This charming and soulful tale of graphic artist Will Henry as he muddles through single parenthood and teaching following the adultery of his partner is a surprisingly light and joy filled tale with tons of quick, quirky humour. Lead actor Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame brings his special brand of loveable nerd to Niagara in a force that had the audience mesmerized. The audience fell for each supporting character effortlessly as they worked together in perfect tandem. The audience laughed, exclaimed and were left silent when the film ended, wanting the film to continue further into the night, searching for the perfect happy ending.
Overall, the evening was a feat of perfection as NIFF demonstrates for a second year how wonderfully the Niagara Region pairs with incredible international film.