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Beeston Film Festival screening "Lennox Island"

Short film was part of Tiny Town Media's Coastal Stories series


An international spotlight will focus on Lennox Island Sunday during the Beeston Short Film Fest in Nottingham, U.K.

At least 100 short films from more than 20 countries will be screened during the March 8 to 11 film festival, and “Lennox Island” is on the agenda for the final day.

The documentary, “Lennox Island,” is one of 12 short films Tiny Town Media produced in 2015 and 2016 as part of its Coastal Stories series for North Cape Coastal Drive tourism initiative.

The documentary’s director, Jenna MacMillan, is excited about its inclusion in the festival.

“When you make a film and you put it online, that’s sort of, usually, the end of the road for the film,” she reflected. “To get this opportunity, a couple years later, to still celebrate it and still talk about it, is a really nice infusion of good vibes for that film, and it’s a chance for the film to live on.”

The Lennox Island documentary was edited by Thom Smalley. Tess Marie Garneau was the director of photography, and MacMillan, Smalley and Garneau are listed as producers.

Smalley, who has been living in Canada for the past decade, will be travelling back to his native UK to attend Sunday’s screening.

“I think it’s really a neat opportunity to speak about our Island, but also to speak about the indigenous population there, and what a strong community they are,” MacMillan said in a telephone interview from Toronto.

She admitted the spotlight is also an exciting opportunity for the production company.

Three people from Lennox Island, Gilbert Sark, a drummer and keeper of the drum, Shelby Lynn Arsenault, a jingle dress dancer and Caitlin MacLennan, a basket weaver, are featured in the film.

Sark becomes the film’s central character, shown making a drum, drumming and promoting the culture. “I am Gilbert Alex Sark,” he says in the documentary. “My family has been here for 10,000 years. That’s who I am.” An elder and a mentor, he takes pride in knowing his community’s history.

“I really liked it,” Sark said of the finished project. Like MacMillan, he hopes it does well in Nottingham. He said the short film is a good representation of the efforts on Lennox Island to preserve the Mi’kmaq culture.

MacMillan, who divides her time in the film industry between Toronto and her native P.E.I., said Tiny Town Media’s first project since the company was formalized in 2015 was Coastal Stories. It gave her the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the western end of the province. The company has also shot videos and other documentaries on P.E.I. and MacMillan is optimistic a media incentive the provincial government has agreed to will lead to many more projects in the province.

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