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Julian D’Angela wins Hamilton senior award for founding Ancaster Film Festival

Lights, camera and action

By Debra Downey, Senior Editor

Ten years ago Julian D’Angela really had no idea whether his idea would be panned or praised by critics.

D’Angela, however, has been more than pleasantly surprised by the crowds who have flocked in the past decade to view the flicks featured in the Ancaster Film Festival. At the first screening, 300 eager audience members were in attendance. Today festival membership has grown to more than 1,000 and the non-profit venture has raised $132,000 for local food banks and charities.

“I wasn’t sure it was going to take off,” said the 67-year-old D’Angela. “I am really delighted and proud that it has become so successful. I never thought we would still be here 11 years later. It has certainly gone beyond what I ever expected.”

When D’Angela launched the festival, his goal was relatively simple. He wanted to provide a special event for residents of all ages by bringing some of the best films he could to Hamilton — films from Cannes and Sundance, Canadian films and foreign language films — with all proceeds going to support grassroots organizations.

Last month D’Angela received the City of Hamilton’s 2014 Seniors Award for Innovation. The accolades are earned by a senior volunteer who has contributed to an organization or the community by creating a new or different program.

“I was very honoured and humbled,” said D’Angela of the award. “You don’t do volunteer work to get awards, but it’s nice to see the city recognizing so many people. Sixty people were honoured that night and nine received awards.

“It’s nice to hear and see volunteers being honoured, but it’s not only my award, it’s for those who support me and the event, and for those in the community who participate.”

The Ancaster Film Festival, part of the Toronto International Film Festival, presents 12 yearly screenings at the Silver City Theatre in the Meadowlands. D’Angela said staff at the cinema and entertainment company Cineplex have been incredibly supportive of his endeavours, as have 12 sponsors who assist with some of the festival’s operating costs.

Sixteen different organizations have benefitted over the years from the film festival, including Hamilton Out of the Cold, Neighbour 2 Neighbour Centre, Good Shepherd and Hamilton Food Share. An average of $16,000 in proceeds is donated every year.

D’Angela said he also has a “marvellous committee” of 16 people, including his wife Mariclaire, family members and close friends who assist on the screening dates.

For more on the film fest, visit www.ancasterfilmfest.com.

Retired as a vice-principal with the Hamilton Wentworth District Catholic School Board, D’Angela has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for 20 years and serves breakfast and is a volunteer member of the Out of the Cold board of directors. He coordinates the annual Tastes of Ancaster,  has taken over  running  Films at Fieldcote — four free Friday night movies under the stars in August — and dedicates his time to Lobsterfest and the Ancaster Food Drive. On Sundays D’Angela is part of a team that brings communion to seniors at The Meadows long-term care home.

 This is the first in a series of stories on the local recipients of the City of Hamilton’s 2014 Senior of the Year Awards.

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