My name is Israel Ekanem and I am a storyteller. I am honoured to be the Programming Coordinator of the Mosaic Film Festival 2019. The Mosaic Festival of Arts and Culture is committed to giving immigrants, newcomers and international students a chance to show off their endless talents and a familiar piece of home on the Halifax waterfront, and for the residents of Halifax to have the chance to discover, learn and immerse themselves in other cultures. The Mosaic Film Festival adds to the celebration of the magic that is culture and diversity!

I am blessed with amazing friends all over the city. One of such wonderful friends is an immigrant, Mohammed from Daraa, Syria; who moved to Halifax in 2016. He has been sharing stories using his camera for as long as he can remember. We met here, in the beautiful city of Halifax… no, we actually “met” on Instagram. I followed the account because I loved the images not knowing that I would meet the person behind the account at an event. We connected when he found out that I was the writer/director of the film Dearg. Being both immigrants in Canada, we discussed how there are certain misconceptions about race, religion and how unconscious bias shows up almost every day in conversations.

Dearg was made as a film to open conversations about unconscious bias so in that vein, it did its job. This discussion happened because my friend, Mohammed, a talented photographer saw the film at a festival.

These days almost everyone walks around with a personal entertainment device, a phone, on them and we are inundated with media every waking second of our lives. I can pull out my phone, go on a streaming website and watch as many films as I want but that experience does not compare to the experience I feel whenever I go to a festival and watch films curated with love by programmers. A film festival is a beautiful event, one that everyone needs to experience! At a film festival, there is a chance of seeing the people that worked hard to bring their stories to life on the big screen. There are talks, workshops and opportunities to network with people from all walks of life. A film festival is the perfect love letter to films.

Every film selected goes through a rigorous process: the programmers watch each film, discuss it and then from hundreds, if not thousands of selections, they select a few that will be screened at the festival. As a filmmaker that has submitted films to several festivals worldwide, I will say that every submission is a daunting process. There are film festival submission websites like Film freeway and Withoutbox that streamline the submission process. I submit my film to the website by filling a form and once that is done, I search for festivals that I believe my film is a right fit for and then I submit it. Simple! However, the daunting part comes before and sometimes after I click the “submit” button.

The process of making a film is tedious.

No matter how short your film is, it takes time, sweat and sometimes tears to go from an idea in your head to a film that you believe is ready for submission to festivals. It takes money too! The idea comes to you, in many ways; it could be in the shower, on the drive to work, because of something someone said, from another film, there are many ways ideas for films come about. The idea comes, and you start working on it from that moment on. A script is written, and it goes through a number of drafts before you believe it is ready to be made. The next step is casting which is getting the right people for the right role. Depending on your budget you might rehearse for weeks or months or days or right on set. The locations are scouted, the production crew come in to work their magic and then production begins.

The shoot can last for a day or more with some going on for months! When that aspect is done, post-production starts; this is a beast too. It is important to work on your film to make it look as good as possible. This means that you must spend the time and money to edit it properly, colour correct it, work on the sound mix and then you can come out with a film that you can submit to a festival.

Yes, it is a daunting process.

It usually takes months to go from an idea to a complete film no matter what the length of the film is. When a filmmaker gets to this stage, they usually put it online and this online screener is sent out to festivals. This is what programmers watch and make their final decisions on films that will be screened at the festival.

Halifax is a culturally diverse city with several film festivals and you might ask why one more festival? There are many reasons why Halifax deserves another film festival: there are many talented filmmakers with different voices that need to be heard, different festivals celebrate different types of film, the people of Halifax deserve a festival that celebrates and showcases the diversity of the city. There are many other reasons why there is a place for the Mosaic Film Festival in the city but one more reason is the fact that it is the part of the Mosaic Festival, a three-day celebration of life, diversity and culture.

The Mosaic Film Festival is ground-breaking film festival created to act as a forum for our diverse community to share their cultures and their experiences as immigrants and to bring together a broad array of cultures through the art of film. We welcome entries from around Atlantic Canada and beyond. The Mosaic Film Festival is about celebrating filmmakers, storytellers and to show not just how culturally diverse our beautiful city is but how welcoming we are. The Mosaic Festival accepts submissions worldwide, which means we will get to see amazing films from different cultures around the world. The films will be screened at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 on August 30, 2019. As the Programming Coordinator of the festival, it is a source of joy knowing that we are working on an event that will become a staple in the beautiful city of Halifax.

Now go and submit your film, the world needs to hear your voice. Yes, you! Click this below to submit your film: