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Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) – Selected Viewing

Filed under: Film Reviews

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The Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF) is set to take place this weekend. The event, which I wrote about in greater detail in our cover story, is a unique fusion of food, wine, and film, and it’s all happening just across the border throughout the Niagara region. The latest project from Toronto International Film Festival founder Bill Marshall is a great opportunity for those involved in Buffalo’s film community and local movie lovers alike to share in a world-class film festival experience without having to travel far or spend a great deal of money. Amongst the many films being shown, here’s some brief words on a few that are worth checking out.

THE COCKSURE LADS, directed by Murray Foster – Great Big Sea bassist.

A Britpop band from England called The Cocksure Lads, land in Toronto to kickoff their first-ever North American tour. Ten minutes after arriving, they get into a fight over royalties and break up. The Lads scatter across the city, spending the day drinking, fighting, meeting girls and falling in love. Through it all they learn what it means to be a band – but can they patch things up before their big show that night?

My thoughts: Nothing too deep, however it’s a funny and entertaining musical comedy boasting a likable cast and a light-hearted, irreverent tone. Likely to be a big hit with audiences.


June 18 | 9:30 PM | Landmark Cinemas

FOR GRACE, directed by Mark Helenowski & Kevin Pang (USA) – Niagara Premiere [Filmalicious]

Curtis Duffy, one of the country’s most renowned chefs, is building his dream restaurant at the worst time of his personal life. Already the recipient of two coveted stars from the Michelin Guide, Duffy has ambitions for his Chicago restaurant Grace to become the best in the country. But his laser focus on his cooking career cost Duffy his marriage and two young daughters. ‘For Grace’ follows the building of Grace from concrete box to its opening night. It’s a story about food, family, balance and sacrifice. It also revisits Duffy’s turbulent childhood — How a teacher recognized talent in a troubled teenager, how an unimaginable family tragedy made Duffy seek refuge in the kitchen, and how cooking ultimately exacted a price.

My thoughts: Those expecting a fun food doc about the pleasures of working as a chef should look elsewhere, as this one makes no attempts to shy away from the darker turns Duffy’s life story takes in his relentless and troubled pursuit for perfection. However, it’s through exploring the harsh truth that sometimes working to realize a dream must come at the cost of losing those closest to us that ultimately gives the documentary its emotional power and lasting impact.


June 19 |7 PM (With Dinner) | 9:30 PM (Screening only) |Peller Estates
June 20 | 3:30 PM | Landmark Cinemas

THE LOST AVIATOR, directed by Andrew Lancaster (Australia/UK/USA/France) – Canadian Premiere [Spotlight]

Set in the Golden Age of Aviation, Andrew Lancaster follows the life and times of his great uncle, Captain Bill Lancaster. Against his family’s wishes, he uncovers a fascinating tale of high adventures, obsession, a love triangle and a sensational murder trial.

My thoughts: Part biopic, historical drama, and murder mystery, this engaging, genre-blending documentary is sure to fascinate even those familiar with the life story of Captain Bill Lancaster. My only major complaint is that the present-day segments detailing the younger Lancaster’s perspective sometimes slow the film’s momentum and ultimately prove less interesting than his uncle’s story.


June 19 | 7 PM | Landmark Cinemas
June 20 | 12:30 PM | Landmark Cinemas

For more information about NIFF and a complete list of films playing check out the NIFF website: niagarafilmfest.com/2015-films/