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BFF Memories, The Beginnings

16 August 2017


In 1995 four Barrie, Ontario friends with a mutual love of film ~ Tony Gilsenan, Michael Coughlin, John Oelrichs and Hanne Fynbo ~ began meeting regularly for lively discussions on cinema. Each of them were already involved in the city’s cultural scene, and also connected with the MacLaren Art Centre. These evenings and an introduction to the Film Circuit, led to a monthly film night hosted by the MacLaren. News of the regular event spread and it quickly became Barrie’s preeminent film club; Screen One was born. The first film shown for Screen One was Smoke with William Hurt, Harvey Keitel and Forest Whitaker 


A couple of years later in 1997 John Lister, also a member of the MacLaren Art Centre, suggested the idea of a festival, which began as a 3-day event. Always a priority, Canada’s film industry has been prominently showcased through the years. The festival has been successful in bringing in celebrated Canadian film icons and celebrities such as Atom Agoyan for Ararat and Bruce MacDonald for This Movie is Broken and Arto Paragamian for Two Thousand and None


Canadian film was our driving force, but we also wanted to create opportunity to share films that weren’t going to make it to Barrie.” – Hanne Fynbo 


 BFF Moment: 2000 Festival Guest Canadian Director Arto Paragamian for Two Thousand and None, Tony Gilsenan



BFF Memories 2000 John Lister, Julian Daniel, Stephen Day


BFF Memories 2000 Claudine Benoit and Tony Gilsenan



The only time a film did not arrive in time was for the showing of the smart and visual Run Lola Run – which unfortunately the 35mm print stayed on the bus all the way to Timmons – money was refunded to guests and Claudine has always been disappointed that it had never been screened by the BFF, especially since it is one of her personal favourites. We’re excited to share that for our upcoming 20th Anniversary, our Festival Director gets a special film selection and she has chosen to show Run Lola Run 


Save the date, BFF20 will be held October 13-22, 2017