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Day zero 

In movie production they call it "prep"

Finally got the list of Industry Screenings late last night.... was wondering why I hadn't received them by email or carrier pigeon or something. They're the weekday showing of many of the Gala presentations. It allows sundry industry and press types a chance to see movies in advance of the actual public screenings. Besides making us feel important, it also means we're less likely to fill valuable seats with our non-paying asses and scare the filmgoing public with our wretched film snob body odours and terrible social skills.

Thanks to The Coast film critic Mark Palermo for forwarding the list to me.

9:45am Wednesday morning: Excitedly riding my bicycle down Bell Road (Whoa! Bicycle Lanes! Awesome!) to catch Blindness at the Park Lane, a full 32 hours before the gala screenings Thursday night. I arrive to a small battalion of AFF volunteers who inform me that the print for Blindness hasn't arrived and they are showing Growing Op instead.

"Shit," I exclaim, visibly shocking one of the volunteers. Damn, the power of the S-Bomb.

I've seen Michael Melski's Growing Op, or, at least, a rough cut of it, and I am curious about the changes he's instituted since that early version... but I bail. Though media screenings are often cancelled and rearranged over the course of the festival, often due to those selfish, hoarding bastards at the Toronto International Film Festival---only kidding... there are all sorts of reasons for prints to be delayed---this is an inauspicious beginning to the fest.

Instead, I went back to work at The Coast and planned for the week ahead.

Festival Pick Sue Carter Flinn, our excellent arts editor, asked me for at least one movie I'm looking forward to, and I've chosen what looks to be an interesting documentary, Good Morning Kandahar, which is listed in the guide as Outside Afghanistan... just a little title switch confusion there.

The NFB produced doc will get a screening on CBC TV later in the fall, but here's your chance to see it at its World Premiere, Sunday at 4 at Park Lane 8.

The director is Ariel Nasr, born in Halifax and a first generation Canadian, his father immigrated from Afghanistan and his mother from California. He grew up here very connected to his Afghan roots, went to King's, and after 9/11 he thought to interview other Afghans living in Canada about their impressions of their homeland, especially through the prism of the NATO and Canadian military presence there. It led him across the country, to a training camp in Alberta where an enormous mock Kandahar has been created to help Canadian soldiers train, including Afghan Canadians "acting" as Afghan civilians. Eventually, having collected these interviews, he went to his father's country, his second visit, and saw for himself what it was like.

"I started to really think about the consequences would be for Afghanistan, that it might be in another big war," says the soft-spoken Nasr. I met him at his spartan Gottingen Street studio this afternoon, furnished with a plush chair, a table, and paintings belonging to another artist.

"When Canada got heavily involved, it was really tough for me. I was in college at the time, and it really affected my whole life on a psychological level. I wasn't comfortable with my identity anymore. I felt at odds with the rest of Canada and Halifax. Here in Nova Scotia there's a lot of unconditional support for the troops because there are so many soldiers that come from here. It was hard for me to see not a whole lot of questioning."

"I felt a lot of anger. It wasn't so much about us going over there at all, it was what I perceived as carelessness in that there was a very high rate of civilian casualties in the air war that the Americans were perpetrating and we were supporting."

I'm seeing Nasr's film this evening and I'll tell you about it tomorrow. It's exactly the kind of thing we should be supporting at the festival: a local filmmaker who you can meet and talk to about his work, with both a local and national approach to a global matter that affects all of us. Plus, potential controversy over a divisive subject. Go see it on Sunday and consider yourself informed.

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