Gimli Film Festival presents aquatic-themed movies under stars

It came from the lake. Not a pickerel, not a fishfly, it's the mighty 11-metre screen rising once again from the murky waters of Lake Winnipeg.

Gimli Film Festival runs July 23-27 at various venues in Gimli.

Cinema Under the Stars features family-friendly movies on the beach at Gimli. (Dave McKnight)

It came from the lake. Not a pickerel, not a fishfly, it's the mighty 11-metre screen rising once again from the waters of Lake Winnipeg. It's the proof that it's time for the 2014 edition of the Gimli Film Festival, running July 23 - 27.

The festival boasts more than 100 features, short films, documentaries and, this year, music videos. Indoor venues include the beautifully restored historic Gimli Theatre, seating 250, and two smaller 70-seat venues, the Aspire Theatre and the Lady of the Lake Theatre.

Film programmer Aaron Zeghers says while the films are extremely diverse, fun and entertaining, they are tending towards topics of adventure and romance. He highlights the documentary 112 Weddings, made by a filmmaker and part-time wedding videographer who goes back and revisits the married couples he's filmed over the years, finding them in various levels of happiness and unhappiness.

Zeghers' top pick is The Overnighters. "It's one of the most personally telling stories about a pastor in a small town in North Dakota -- a boom town because of the oil fracking industry. It gets really personal into his own life, but it's also like a microcosm for the American dream -- they're down-and-outers trying to make a quick buck and trying to support themselves and their families," he said. 

A Canadian-made documentary, Love Me, tells the story of the modern 'mail order bride' industry in Ukraine and that elusive search for love and happiness.

Festival director Leona Johnson is most looking forward to the family-friendly RBC Cinema Under the Stars with the giant screen emerging out of the water. 

"Of course the beach is a natural amphitheatre. As you watch the move the lake takes over part of the scene, so it's beautiful, and of course we have the stars coming out, and northern lights, so it's always a wonderful time," she said.

Water-themed films on the big screen include A River Runs Through ItThe Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, starring Bill Murray, Anjelica Houston, Cate Blanchett, and Dead Calm with Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill, Billy Zane.

12,000-15,000 visitors are expected to the 13th annual edition of the Gimli Film Festival.