The economic downturn made this a difficult year for the Atlantic Film Festival. But tomorrow it responds with the biggest opening night party in its 29-year history.

 

The festival relies heavily on corporate support, and this year many of those sponsors were slashing budgets. Festival association executive director Gregor Ash said it’s been “an interesting year” putting everything together, but the hard work will pay off tomorrow.

 

“The opening on Thursday night is, I think, the biggest spectacle we’ll ever put on,” he said.

 

To start, there’s the world premiere of the new Trailer Park Boys movie, Countdown to Liquor Day. It will feature the entire cast and crew of the franchise that started at the festival 10 years ago.

Then there’s the opening night party that originally had The Novaks, The Arkells and popular Halifax spinner DJ Double A slated to perform. Now they’ll be joined by Bubbles and J-Roc from the Trailer Park Boys, and Brian Vollmer of classic Canadian rock band Helix.

Ash describes it as “our biggest red carpet ever.”

This year, party-goers don’t have to worry about the weather because the event has been moved from Argyle Street to the Halifax Metro Centre.

Over the next 10 days the festival will screen 235 movies from around the world, including 62 Nova Scotian films.

“The program on the ground is beyond what is going to be needed to ensure people still recognize the festival as a major event,” Ash said.

“Atom Egoyan’s new film Chloe is getting a lot of buzz out of Toronto. Pedro Almodovar has a new film (Broken Embraces) starring Penelope Cruz that’s great. Our closing film, The Trotsky, is absolutely fantastic.”

Among the other notable films are Heath Leger’s final role in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and new acclaimed films from Lars von Trier (Antichrist) and A.J. Schnack (Convention).