It can be hard to find independent films on the big screen, with the mainstream big-budget box office production companies monopolizing movie theatres across the country. However, independent film in Canada survives through festivals like Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) or, on the western coast, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), and various other festivals scattered across the country.

In Nanaimo, indie movies have found another way to survive and even make it onto the big screen. In its 19th year, Fringe Flicks, an independent film series hosted by TheatreOne, has continued to push artistic boundaries and introduce audiences to different cultures from the big screen of the Avalon theatre in Woodgrove Mall. The 2018-19 film series’ season runs from September to the beginning of May.

Fringe Flicks was born out of TheatreOne’s current Artistic Director David Mann’s goal to fill Nanaimo’s independent film reel.

“The biggest reason it happened was because when I came to Nanaimo with my family after living in Toronto and Edmonton and devouring the independent film scenes there,” Mann said, “we found that there was a dearth of non-mainstream films being shown in town.”

During the first 18 months Mann lived in Nanaimo and began work as Artistic Director for TheatreOne, a friend visited him who was starting work for the Toronto Film Festival Circuit Group. At the time, Film Circuit was trying to expand their activities in BC. Founded in 1989, Film Circuit is TIFF’s film outreach program, which brings the best of Canadian and international film to communities across Canada. It became a part of the Toronto International Film Festival in 1995.

“It was presented as a no-lose proposition; for every film we presented, one-third of the proceeds would go to TIFF, one third to the venue, and one-third to TheatreOne,” Mann said.

According to Nadine Wiepning, Manager of Marketing and Box Office, the film series acts as a fundraising tool for TheatreOne to help the company keep producing live theatre.

“As a company, our main focus is on live theatre, and we’re unusual because we have a film series,” Wiepning said. “Normally a company would focus just on theatre, but we happen to have this film series. It’s become a staple for us to help generate some revenue to support the rest of our programming.”

Tickets are $13 for general admission, and $10 for students at the door of Avalon theatre in Woodgrove mall. Read on to get a sneak peak at the upcoming films left in Fringe Flicks’ season.

Leave No Trace

Tells the intimate and complex coming-of-age story of a father and daughter struggling to maintain their unconventional lifestyle in the rugged countryside of the US Pacific Northwest. February 17 showtimes: 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. February 18 show time: 7:00 pm.

Nothing Like a Dame

In this documentary, Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith talk about their lives now and then: their experience in theatre, TV, and cinema, and the memories they have—as they look back with the wisdom of their years, and with humour. March 10 showtimes: 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. March 11 show time: 7:00 pm.


Zain is only 12, but he’s seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, he files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. March 24 show time: 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. March 25 show time: 7:00 pm.

The Silent Resolution

In 1956 East Germany, a group of senior high schoolers demonstrate solidarity with recent victims of the Hungarian Revolution. Their brief, silent protest ignites underlying tensions and leads to grave consequences. April 7 showtimes: 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. April 8 showtimes: 7:00 pm.

Woman at War

Halla is a choirmaster who is about to adopt a child from a war-torn area in the Ukraine, a long-time dream of hers. Halla is also an eco-terrorist, fueled by the proliferation of heavy industry ruining Iceland’s landscape. May 5 showtimes: 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, and 7:00 pm. May 6 show time: 7:00 pm.