Participants in last year’s Chilliwack Independent Film Festival pose with the awards they won for their submissions. This year’s event will take place on Nov. 23, 24, and 25 at Cottonwood Theatres. (Submitted)

WATCH: Movie lovers unite for the second annual Chilliwack Independent Film Festival

The three-day event begins on Nov. 23, and features 33 films from around the globe

After a successful first run in 2017, the Chilliwack Independent Film Festival (CIFF) is back, bigger than ever, and ready to once again open up the world of independent film making at Cottonwood Theatres.

“What I love about films is they open up your imagination and transport you to another world,” said Taras Groves, who began the Festival last year.

A filmmaker himself, Groves is a British expat who’s only joined extended family members in the Fraser Valley within the last few years. “But I just love it so much,” he said. “It’s beautiful and has incredible community spirit.”

And it’s that community spirit that Groves says has enabled him to make his film festival dreams come true, while at the same time creating the Fraser Valley’s first film festival.

“I’d always wanted to do a festival, so last year we set about (establishing) the first Chilliwack Independent Film Festival, and we were so very lucky,” Groves continued. “That’s why I love Chilliwack so much. It’s such a community-based town and everyone’s so supportive. Good luck trying to do (this) in London.”

Building on last year’s success, Groves has made connections throughout the Valley with like-minded individuals and organizations, which has helped to expand the Festival’s reach.

Compared to last year, Groves says CIFF received 170 submissions this year – a 50 per cent increase – which has allowed the Festival to up the amount of films from 29 to 33.

“There are all sorts of films this year … as we’re trying to showcase a bit of everything,” Groves explained. “We have three feature films, six documentaries, and the rest are made up of shorts and animations.

“And we really wanted to enhance the international flavour, but at the same time honour where we (live), so 16 of the films are from B.C., and one of the feature films, Videotronyxz, was filmed entirely in the Fraser Valley.”

RELATED: Chilliwack’s first independent film festival (VIDEO)

This year, Groves said the Festival also pushed to widen the amount of female and Indigenous filmmakers that are represented, so they removed the fees for First Nations submissions to encourage more entries.

But it’s not just about the films, says the young filmmaker, it’s about the stories they tell and the conversations they inspire. “If (the film) resonates, even if (people) don’t like it, there’s a good chance it made it into the Festival … and there are several film blocks with Q & A periods afterwards.”

Another addition to this year’s Chilliwack Independent Film Festival, adds Groves, is the Festival kick-off mixer, which takes place at Old Yale Brewing on Friday, Nov. 23. There, people can take in a short film or two while rubbing elbows with filmmakers and movie lovers alike, all while tasting Old Yale’s hoppy delights.

“The Friday mixer is sort of a passing of the torch from last year’s Festival to this year’s, and provides Q & A with local filmmakers,” said Groves.

On Saturday and Sunday, however, the cinematic fun moves to Cottonwood Theatres, where the big theatre will play two-hour blocks of films, four on Saturday and three on Sunday, before moving onto the awards ceremony, which are being designed by artists at Nations Creations.

“It’s been so beautiful to have so much support from the community,” said Groves. “We’re a non-profit and we’re all volunteers with day jobs … (so) the donations, submissions, and volunteers” have gone a long way to making the event successful during its short tenure.

For more information about the Chilliwack Independent Film Festival, to view trailers of this year’s films, or to purchase tickets—day passes are $15, or $5 per block—please visit their website at CIFF.ca.

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