Catch the drift about this year’s DRIFF

Greg Murphy, Durham College's executive dean of the School of Media, Art and Design. Photo credit: Melanie Lennon

Durham Region International Film Festival (DRIFF) just wrapped its third annual event – and Durham College’s (DC) very own Greg Murphy is pleased with the outcome.

DRIFF is a non-profit devoted to promoting arts, culture and community in Durham Region. Its annual event is designed to bring films and filmmakers into the spotlight.

Murphy, executive dean of the School of Media, Art and Design, is on DRIFF’s board of directors. He said he’s been involved since the beginning after he was approached by Eileen Kennedy, the film and television liaison at Durham Region Economic Development.

She expressed her interest in creating a local film festival and Murphy said he was all for it.

“We didn’t really know what we were doing…we sort of bumbled along.”

In his role, Murphy said he “creates and preserves an educational component in the festival.” This involves teaching the community about the fundamentals of production and discussing the connection between filmmaking and storytelling.

“We are trying to create a film culture in Durham Region [and] I think the college needs to play a role in doing that,” he said. “As the dean of Media, Art and Design, it really falls on me to do that.”

The film festival took place over the span of three days. Screenings were held at Oshawa’s Robert McLaughlin Gallery (RMG), the Station Gallery in Whitby, and DC’s Centre for Collaborative Education.

Filmmakers from across the globe showcased their work Oct. 3-5 to the largest audience Murphy has seen so far.

“The first year we had the gala opening and we had almost no audience,” he said. “People just didn’t come.”

This year, Murphy estimated a turnout of approximately 200 people. He said it’s undeniably their most successful year yet.

“All of the small elements are just growing and people are understanding more of what it’s about,” he smiled. “It’s like anything. You do it a couple times and you just get the sense of how to do it better.”

Murphy said DRIFF received 176 film submissions this year. From that, 37 of them were selected and shown during the three days.

He said there were a few standout moments, as many of the films were “startlingly” different than the content seen in theatres.

“It was hugely diverse. You would go from one film to another and it was like whiplash,” said Murphy. “They seem to be relevant to what people are talking about, what they feel and so on, without being headline stuff…they were just people telling their own story.”

The DRIFF board is already planning next year’s event. However, Murphy said he doesn’t want any major changes.

“We’ve got all the parts in place, we just need to do each of those parts better,” he said. “I think that changing for the sake of change is not the way to go at this point.”

Murphy also said people don’t have to wait until next year to watch the pieces presented at DRIFF. He said RMG will be displaying a few of the short films from the event at their RMG Fridays.

The next screening takes place Nov. 1.