How I Spent My Summer Vacation – pt 1

The Gimli Film Festival

As I have mentioned before, summer is cottage season for my family. Our cottage is located on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, the world’s tenth largest freshwater lake, just south of the small community of Gimli, Manitoba.


Gimli, besides being the name of one of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, is a bustling summer destination for cottagers and day-trippers alike. Known to have the largest population of people of Icelandic descent outside of Iceland, for the last sixteen years, Gimli has also been home to the Gimli Film Festival. The festival showcases fiction feature films, documentaries and short films from Manitoba, Canada and the world with an emphasis on work from the circumpolar countries. They even screen free movies on the beach every night of the festival. It’s quite an experience to see Jaws on a big screen that literally comes up out of the lake.


Each summer I study the myriad of movies in the festival’s schedule like a punter betting on the ponies, hoping to pick a winner or two. It can be hit or miss, but generally, even if the movie ends up being a bit of a dud, I enjoy getting the chance to see a film I normally wouldn’t have considered or even have had access.

3 Out of 4 Ain’t Bad

This year I think I did a pretty great job of picking movies. I managed to get to four of the over 85 films screened (I only attended two days of the four day event). I barely put a scratch on the list and it was certainly not as many as I would have liked, but I have to juggle schedules with the other movie goers in my family. In the spirit of film festivals around the world, I have awarded my own prizes to each (with apologies to Cannes).

Fiskur af Gulli (The Golden Fish award)
Microbe et Gasoil

Microbe & Gasoline was a quirky, fun, coming-of-age, road trip with one laugh-out-loud moment after another. It sort of had a 80’s movie vibe, going more for low-key than big box office bang. I highly recommend it.

Silfur Stjörnu (Silver Star award)

It seems that road trip movies were definitely a theme for me (total fluke) this year. This time it’s a father-daughter adventure, although the daughter is only there grudgingly, and only for the pot. A Canadian project filmed here in Manitoba by former Winnipegger, Jonas Chernick, Borealis is a charming and sweetly painful movie. The real star of the show is Joey King who takes a potentially clichéd character — a teenage girl who’s tough on the outside and scared on the inside — and brings her to life in a believable and heartbreaking way. Definitely worth checking out.

Stórt Hjarta (The Big Heart award)
A Man Called Ove

Ove (rhymes with ‘stove) is the epitome of a grumpy, old man. He’s stubborn, short-tempered, strictly regimented and very lonely. A young family pushes their way into his rigid life bringing chaos and more importantly friendship. A touching and humorous film. (Sorry, I couldn’t find a trailer with the English subtitles.)

Also Saw Honourable Mention

At first this film feels like a low-budget, stop-motion animation, but as the story unfolds you find there is a clever reason why. I could have done without the claymation style “Full Monty”.

So that’s how I spent my weekend at the cottage. Next up I get my Viking on at Islendingadagurinn.

2 thoughts on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation – pt 1

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