In early 2007, a Meaford resident and acclaimed documentary film maker had an idea:
The newly restored Meaford Hall would be the perfect location for a film festival. And while the scope of the project might have been daunting, when Gough Lewis approached the Meaford Hall and Culture Foundation with the idea, he met with an enthusiastic response. A film festival meshed perfectly with the Foundation’s mandate – it would present an engaging cultural experience for the community while raising funds to invest in the Hall’s infrastructure. At the time, the Hall had been open for less than a year since the restoration, and didn’t yet have a screen or projector. But within a mere five months of those initial discussions, the first annual Meaford International Film Festival, or MIFF, opened with the inaugural gala and the screening of “An Unreasonable Man”, a documentary about consumer advocate and activist Ralph Nader. After the film, local Green Party candidate Shane Jolley interviewed Nader live on-screen via Internet. Opening night set the stage for what was to become a thrilling Meaford cultural, tourism and fundraising success story. It featured “the best of the best”, award-winning films chosen from festivals around the world as well as interviews with the people behind the films. Since the first “four nights, four films, four parties”, MIFF has drawn sold-out crowds to a host of fascinating, ground-breaking and entertaining feature films, including scooping the Toronto International Film Festival at least once. From the very beginning, the Foundation has made the Festival, financially viable by attracting strong support in the community, from invaluable sponsors and enthusiastic volunteers. As a result MIFF has helped raise funds for many important Meaford Hall improvements. The screen and projector installed by the Foundation for the first MIFF, sees active service on a regular basis for a variety of events, including monthly movie screenings at “Thursday Flicks”.