If you told the organizers of the Windsor International Film Festival in 2005 how much their event would grow over the next decade, they probably never would have believed you.
"I always knew we had a good thing, but every year it sincerely amazes us," says WIFF executive director Vincent Georgie.
Organizers will be celebrating WIFF's 10th anniversary this year by extending the festival from six days to nine and hosting various special events and screenings.
Georgie, who replaced former executive director Peter Coady this year, says both he and his colleagues are astonished by WIFF's exponential growth over the past 10 years. The inaugural festival consisted of 16 films, 21 screenings and 2,705 tickets sold. This year WIFF is hosting 111 films and 182 screenings, and anticipating 15,000 in attendance.
"[My colleagues] just couldn't have imagined what we've all done together and that's because of a tireless organization that works so, so hard, all on a volunteer basis," Georgie says. "On the flip side ... our community loves it. It's that our audience keeps telling us 'We love this, we want to come and check this out,' and that's music to everybody's ears and what keeps you going."
Georgie says he believes a number of the films will be extremely popular with audiences. The lineup for this year's festival includes Boychoir, A Wolf at the Door, Mommy, and Whiplash, which he says is already a major frontrunner for the Oscars.
"It's a really, really cool story about a very militant jazz instructor and his prodigy student, with J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller," Georgie says. "That one's going to be absolutely huge."
The opening-night film for the festival will be Felix and Meira, a Canadian film about a poor man from Quebec who has an affair with a woman from the Hasidic Jewish community in Montreal. The festival will close with Wild Tales, an Argentinian film that compiles six short stories whose protagonists have one thing in common.
"Everything goes wild in their life and they just simply embrace it," Georgie says. "The festival will go out on the highest of high notes this year, I can assure you."
According to Georgie, selecting films for WIFF is a long, grueling process, with programmers viewing, discussing, and tallying over 1,000 movies throughout the course of a year.
"No film ever gets into the festival by accident," Georgie says. "We believe the films themselves are really the key thing to showcase, so we want to make sure we get that right, and we're very confident in the [ones] we've picked."
Ten films that were screened at past festivals will also be shown to celebrate 10 years of WIFF. All 10 movies were voted on by the public, and will include Searching for Sugar Man, The Intouchables, and Blue Is the Warmest Color.
Additionally, a number of special events will be held during WIFF 2014, such as the 48-Hour Flickfest, 100 Mile Shorts, and the Can-Am Grand Prix of Cinema.
"This is a competition where programmers have curated two outstanding Canadian films and two outstanding American films to go head-to-head and receive a prize from our audiences as their favorite film, from which country we don't know," Georgie says.
In this year's Can-Am Grand Prix, American films The Immigrant and Vessel will be pitted against Canadian films The Backward Class and Corbo.
WIFF 2014 runs from Nov. 1-9 at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Windsor. For more information about tickets, films, and scheduling visitwindsorfilmfestival.com.