Summer camp for cinephiles

Now a mere week away, the inaugural Picton Picturefest (July 7-10) represents a two-year labour of love for Toronto film writer Peter Knegt. After participating in "A Pilgrimage," a 2009, one-of-a-kind mobile film festival, co-directed by Tilda Swinton, Knegt was inspired to develop an alternative, community-integrated festival of his own. Together with fellow U of T Cinema Studies alum and Picton-area native Jen MacFarlane, the pair dreamed up Picturefest as a summer camp for cinephiles, celebrating established and emerging contemporary filmmakers, as well as fostering Southern Ontario's future cinematic luminaries. Having solicited industry friends and colleagues to form the Picturefest Collective (which includes moonlighters from both Hot Docs and TIFF), their efforts will culminate in four days of films, workshops and rustic recreation in idyllic, culture-savvy Prince Edward County.

The Picturefest schedule features a diverse mix of inspired selections, reflective of the festival's inclusive, community-focused mandate, and the accomplished pedigree of its programmers. Films on offer include the classic, the current, Canadian, international, shorts, features, documentaries, and fiction.

Among the program highlights is opening night selection, Monsieur Hulot's Holiday (7:30pm), Jacques Tati's uproarious seaside sendup, actually hand-picked by Swinton and "A Pilgrimage" co-director Mark Cousins. The screening will take place at Picton's recently renovated Regent Theatre, and will be preceded by a short film documenting the event that served as Picturefest's inspiration.

Friday's films spotlight promising indie talents Mike Ott and Daniel Cockburn, who happens to hail from Picton's neighboring town of Tweed. Cockburn's experimental shorts earned him a prestigious Berlin filmmaker residency before his debut feature, the mischievously metaphysical You Are Here (7:45pm), played TIFF 10 to rave reviews. Ott's sophomore effort was similarly auspicious, capped by a Spirit Award for his charmingly melancholic Littlerock (5:45pm).

On Saturday, July 9, St. Andrew's church will host a non-fiction marathon, beginning with Harry Sutherland's rarely-screened documentary Track Two (12:00pm), about the 1981 Bathouse Raids that would galvanize Toronto's gay community. At 5:00pm, Knegt and company screen one of 2010's best films in Clio Barnard's devastating docu-drama The Arbor.

Picturefest winds down on Sunday with an afternoon of shorts, featuring selections from the Toronto Student Film Festival and the Toronto Youth Shorts Festival (12:00pm). To bring a fitting close to the weekend's festivities at 6:00pm, The Picturefest Class of 2011 will debut its collective effort, a film entirely shot and edited by participants in the festival's intensive four-day filmmaking workshop.

For a complete screening schedule, transport and accommodation details, and workshop application information, visit Picturefest.ca. Individual screenings are subject to a $10 suggested donation. All accesses badges ($50 for adults, $35 for youth, students and seniors) are available via Countytix, and at Books and Company, 289 Main Street, Picton.

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