The Volunteer Spotlight series highlights FIN’s most valuable resource: its dedicated community of volunteers and their role in making FIN Atlantic International Film Festival the premier event it is today. Our volunteers are incredibly diverse and from all walks of life:  young, old, bankers, medical professionals, bus drivers, actors, retired, or current students. 



Check out all these amazing volunteers!












(Bernie is a FIN volunteer driver and has been with us for at least four or five years. His quiet demeanor, knowledge of the city and friendly disposition makes him a wonderful ambassador for FIN and the city, welcoming guests from around the world. He always has a kind word and is eager to help make the FIN Transport Team the best it can be.)


Amy: What is your “day job,” what you do when you’re not volunteering?

Bernie: I am retired! I retired in 2010. I was working with the credit union system of Nova Scotia, primarily as an analyst, which basically means you interact with credit unions, monitor them, if there’s any issues, give them advice, correct any weaknesses, give us benchmarks, follow the benchmarks, when they meet them, we go away. That bit was my role up until 2010, when I retired early. I’m now doing contract work with the same system. I help them do audits of credit unions in the province, about eith months of the year, I work about two weeks a month. It’s a nice blend. It’s sort of a dream job, because you get lots of time off and I don’t work, generally speaking, from mid-June to about the end of September. I have a lot of outdoor interests, mostly summer related. It gives me opportunity to do that.


A: And when you’re not doing that, you’re driving trains! That is the life, I think.

B: Well, actually, you know, that all came about through volunteering!...


A: So, how long have you been volunteering with FIN?

B: I only started three years ago, actually. It all started – I didn’t do a lot of volunteering up until 3 years ago. It started with the Rotary Rib Fest. I’m not a Rotarian but I know one, and they can’t possibly put that on without a lot of outside help and so she asked me if I would be able to volunteer and I said sure. I volunteered, and I thought, “I like this!” So, I started looking at other festivals and putting my name in. The Jazz Festival came up and I put my name in, then the Film Festival came up and I put my name in, and so it just kind of evolved from that.


A: Did you go to the Festival previously before volunteering, or have you just seen the Festival from the volunteer view?

B: I’ve got to admit I haven’t been to the festival, but I have been taking advantage of the perks. I have been going, these screenings – the advance screenings, I went to the last one.


A: If you were suggesting things for someone new to the Festival, what would you suggest that they check out?

B: I think that if they can take in a gala. Unfortunately, that part isn’t normally included in the perks. That definitely would be one, people would appreciate that. There’s such a variety of films offered – I really enjoy the short films because it’s a variety pack…. It’s really rewarding to go to it [the Festival], particularly when it’s here in Halifax.


A: Do you have a favourite film?

B: You know, actually one that I saw here! REMEMBER with Christopher Plummer.


A: What’s the most memorable moment you’ve had while volunteering with FIN?

B: I had a moving experience. The moving experience was the appreciation film last year was [Gord] Downey, LONG TIME RUNNING. And, I looked around and people… [a man] was bawling, tears streaming down his face, so emotional! I think that’s what sticks out in my mind when you ask me, the emotional impact that film had on some of the volunteers.


A: What’s your favourite movie snack?

B: You know what it is? Whatever I can sneak in! I’ll go to Shopper’s and put licorice nibs in once side and Goodies in the other.









Cydney: What’s your day job?

Anne: I’m retired… I worked for the Federal Government for 38 years for the Department of National Defence (DND)… civilian. And I retired 9 years ago. I hate to say it [laughs] but I work full time for Brian, my son. He has Autism, so between looking for work for him, plus he has a business… got him started three years ago, so between managing his business, managing him, managing everything else about him, updating notes on a constant daily basis. I say, I’m working harder now than when I worked!


C: So how did you start volunteering with FIN?

A: A lady who lives across the street… she volunteers for quite a few things. She told me one day about it, so I applied and I’ve been here since! I think this is my sixth year, I believe. I believe, six or seven, I’ve lost count now, I should have kept count.


C: What do you look forward to the most every year at FIN?

A: Well first of all, meeting the same people; a lot of the people who volunteer come back year after year like myself. So, and you bond with them in other ways. Like sometimes to bond with them outside of the festival. I love the employees of the festival, they’re the greatest people. Last year I volunteered with the Tall Ships and that was fine and dandy, and I volunteer here and there. But I really find I feel like part of a family, you know that you belong. That really is a great feeling. Compared to [volunteering with other organizations]. Yes, they appreciated what you did but you went home and that was it. And I feel like with the contact with FIN over the whole year makes it even better.

I volunteered starting in the church over there when I was 14, I was in the kitchen with my mother. And I just, volunteering, you always get back 8 times more than that you give, and again you meet new people over and over again. It’s just a wonderful experience all the way around. I’m so glad, you know, just like everything else you think ‘oh why didn’t I do this sooner?’ but there’s a time and place for everything and it was the time.


C: What is your most memorable memory from your time volunteering with FIN?

A: I would think, and I’m just looking back, the first year because I didn’t know what to expect. But you know, Rose was very welcoming and that was good and she made me feel very good. Wayne, even though I didn’t know him at the time, again, like again, he spoke to me which made me think, ‘Wow, you know, I’m not just a nobody.’ The first year stands out because I was timid and shy and didn’t know what to expect – I’m not a shy person, but you know, embarking on something new, you’re kind of set back. So after like, the second year, I was looking forward to it because… I love meeting people, I’m a very social person. I like meeting new people and getting to know them and working with them. Again, you bond with them. So, its just a great feeling.


C: What is your favourite film?

A: My favourite genre is comedy, so anything to do with comedy I love… you see some good ones, you see some bad ones. What I like about the festival is you get the [program], so you can pick and choose.


C: What is your favourite movie snack?

A: I’m a chipaholic! So it would probably be nachos and cheese.








Cydney: What is your day job? What do you do when you’re not volunteering with FIN?

Margaret: Oh, I’m retired, but I’m very active! I volunteer one day a week at the Dartmouth Seniors Centre, more if they need me. I work in the canteen, which is like the heart of the recreation room. I do that, I do water aerobics… I travel a lot, I’ve been down to New York already twice this year! I’m always on the go. Before I retired I worked for Nova Scotia Power. That was an awesome job, because NSP is one of our bigger employers and they provide a lot of opportunities for the people of Nova Scotia.


C: How long have you been volunteer with FIN?

M: I’m going to say 8 or 10 years. I love it. I mean, FIN treats their volunteers so well. There’s a lot of opportunities to meet a lot of people. There’s different roles you can participate in. I [have] different roles [each year], it’s just a win-win. I meet so many wonderful people.


C: How did you get involved with FIN?

M: I just saw an advertisement and I like films; I like the idea of bringing these opportunities into Halifax. We have all these actors coming in, and all these movies coming in. So I like that idea.


C: Why do you volunteer in general?

M: It’s a win-win. I feel good about it, I feel useful, I meet new people, I’m helping other people – it’s just a win-win. It keeps me young, it keeps me healthy, I’m always up for something new. It’s just what I do.


C: What part of FIN AIFF would you recommend to a newbie?

M: I believe that it’s all so awesome. One year I was at the Lord Nelson and [the volunteers] were greeting people who were there for different [events] for conferences or meetings. There was a lot going on at the Lord Nelson.  There was a young couple there from England and they were just brand new [to Canada]. So I kind of mentored them and said, “You need to be in the forefront, I’m going to stand back and let you do this,” and kind of guided them. They met all kinds of new people and they loved it. Every role provides a lot of opportunities [like that].


C: What is your favourite film?

M: My favourite films are musical fun films, like Mamma Mia. That’s fun, it’s got a lot of good music, a lot of laughs. I liked when [FIN] did Maudie, that was fantastic. I also like documentaries about people in the area who have done well.


C: Most vibrant memory from the film fest.

M: There’s just so many. I think what sticks out the most, because it’s the most challenging, was when we had the awards banquet…  [There were] …like 2 picnic tables together full of vegetables we had to wash, chop and … some volunteers to go at that and bring it to full presentation. [T]hat, to me, was always such a challenge, because there were mounds, I’m telling you MOUNDS of vegetables… To see that materialize, that was something we needed to [work together to achieve], to bring that to life.


C: What is your favourite movie snack? 

M: Popcorn. I mean, popcorn. It’s classic.










Recent transplant to Halifax, from Montreal to Vancouver, Rodin has made a great addition to the FIN volunteer crews! He’s done a bunch of everything, but more than anything he makes sure that every volunteer he meets feels welcome, part of the team, and included. Friendly and always willing to chat, Rodin is excited to show other FIN newbies what the festival has to offer!  


Cydney: What is your day job?

Rodin: When I first came to Halifax two years ago, I wasn’t working so I had the free time to volunteer, it was perfect, it was a great way to meet people and get involved, and who doesn’t like movies? But now, I just got hired recently as a bus driver for Halifax Transit – I drive on the streets of Halifax.


C: So you’ve been volunteering with FIN for two years and you got involved from seeing an advertisement?

R: On a whim, just on a whim. I probably went online and just took it from there. It’s interesting because once you volunteer for one thing, you tend to run into the same people…


C: What part of the film festival do you recommend to newbies?

R: I guess any of the parties, they [are] fun if you can get into them. But just going to the movies. Getting yourself involved and just going out! It’s a great way of traveling without leaving your city. So like, you go to see a foreign film… yeah, so either the parties or going a movie, or just mingling and being involved.


C: What are you personally looking forward to this year?

R:  Actually, I have no clue, I never do any of my research, which is kind of good. I don’t really plan things as much, I just go and see what’s there. I love looking through the [program guide], it’s a lot of movies to see. But I LOVE not having any expectations and being wowed or surprised.


C: What’s your favourite film/guilty pleasure film?

R: Right, … I’m horrible at selecting my favourite thing… I like everything... I remember there was one movie I watched… It’s a Swedish movie called A MAN CALLED OVE. It’s just a well-done movie, it’s a feel-good movie that takes you on an emotional roller coaster if I can say that. It’s a nice story about a man, but also has its soft parts, but funny parts too. I loved that movie so much that after watching I had to share it with so many people I know. I got my mom to watch it, my sister to watch it, my brother… not that I have a favourite movie or genre but that movie kind of stuck out in my head and I really liked that.


C: Vibrant memory

R: That’s a hard one, I can’t really think of… You know when – it can be a group of people -  strangers especially - or people you know, and you’re watching a movie and [you] all laugh at the same time? It’s a connection – [it must be] an amazing thing as a filmmaker when everyone is on board with the same thing.  


C: What’s your favourite movie snack?

R: What I like doing is -I like having popcorn and I’ll get a bag of M&M’s (the peanut ones) and I’ll put them in the same bag and munch down and watch a movie, if I splurge.













Jason came on board in 2017 as a new volunteer and certainly made a mark! After attending the festival for many years with his wife, he joined the transport team as a driver and drove for nearly 40 hours in eight days! He always had smile on his face and genuinely enjoyed getting to know FIN delegates, filmmakers and staff. We were lucky to have him as part of the team and hope he’ll be with FIN for a long time to come.


Cydney: What is your day job?

Jason: I’m a mortgage underwriter with Home Trust, I’ve been there for about four years. I’m the guy who says yes or no, and on a good day I make a whole bunch of people’s dreams come true.


C: How did you get involved with FIN?

J: My wife has worked with Telefilm Canada for about 15 years, so we’ve always kind of been somewhat involved with the Festival. And now that the kids are a little older I can enjoy more of the films, and when the opportunity came up last year to get involved volunteering I jumped at it. I’ve been a big fan of Canadian films for years and, you know, smaller films get the spotlight at FIN and I’ve always enjoyed being at the festival and now I can be on the other side and kind of help pull off the event.


C: Why do you volunteer?

J: As the kids grow up and don’t need mum and dad at home as much as they used to, I’ve always loved giving back to the community and to get involved in an event that I have a huge love for. I have the time and I have the energy and I have some skills that I think I can offer and I’m happy to do that when I can. FIN, as it grows and has a [wider] reach, I just enjoy being part of something like that.


C: What would you recommendations would you make if you are speaking with a first-time FIN festival-goer?

J: If you can get to the Opening Night Gala, that is a pinnacle. The energy, the excitement, the enthusiasm, and the celebrity that comes with it, it’s just so much fun to be a part of. It’s a huge deal, it’s at a great venue, generally it’s easily accessible, and yeah, it just kind of sets the tone for the week. [I]t’s a must-see, a must-do.


C: What’s your favourite film?

J: Hmmm, oh boy. I think one that’s always stuck with me over the years is IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. It’s about the Irish Republican Army and the Guilford Five, who were wrongfully accused of this famous bombing in Guilford, England and their fight for basically understanding and freedom. It’s the kind of film that told a deep and meaningful story and really shows how politics and the need to blame someone often clouds fact… it was just a really powerfully-made film and a really great story.


C: So you’ve been volunteering with us for a year?

J: Yeah, just the one time so far.


C: What’s your most meaningful or memorable moment that stands out to you from your volunteer experience?

J: I think one of my first shifts on transport I made a pickup at the airport and it was a large portion of the cast from the film INDIAN HORSE. I was not at all familiar with the film, I hadn’t had an opportunity to review the guide for the year. The crew has just come from TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival][ where the film had debuted, and they were dead tired, all of them, and they were talking about the film itself. Later on, I went back to the airport and picked up the director from the film and just learned a little bit about it and heard the buzz and excitement. I ended up attending the film later that evening, and really learned a lot about the film, the film-making process and how it all came to be. It‘s probably one of the best films I’ve seen at the Festival and I had that connection with the talent and the producer. It was kind of fun to see them up there talking about their film and the crowd was a full house and the appreciation for the film was absolutely incredible. The next day I drove them back to the airport and they were appreciative of having seen me in the theatre, it was incredibly rewarding in that sense. Great film too, that I probably wouldn’t necessarily have seen.


C: What is your favourite movie snack?

J: A big ol’ bag of popcorn!














Joan is a pillar within the FIN volunteer community. Everyone loves her! She’s quick with a laugh and immediately makes people feel welcomed. Joan is very generous with both her time, volunteering all year round, and her food – often bringing in treats like jerk chicken or homemade salsa to the volunteer office. As an avid movie lover, Joan sees all sorts of films and her open-minded and adventurous attitude makes it hard to believe she’s a shy person at heart. FIN is lucky to have such a dedicated volunteer!



Cydney: What is your “day job?” What do you do when you’re not volunteering?

Joan: I’m retired! I was a sterilization technician, at the old Grace [Maternity Hospital] and then we moved over to the new Grace attached to the IWK… I loved what I did, we sterilized all the instruments and the bundles for the hospital, so you know you’re taking care of the patient.


C: How long have you been volunteering with FIN Atlantic International Film Festival?

J: You know what, I don’t know. I would say maybe about 7 – I never really put a date or a time… I’ll say 7 [years]. I’m trying to think back to what made me start, which was the red carpet on Oxford Street. I said, “What’s going on there?” and they said, “A red carpet!” and I said, “A red carpet in Halifax?” And the next year I signed up!


C: Why do you volunteer?

J: Because I am very – or I was – a very, very shy person. I cringed when I knew somebody of high standard talked to me, I didn’t know what to say, I cringed. It’s just to get me out of my shell, to meet people, to mingle, and to get rid of my shyness.


C: It seems to have worked!

J: I think so! When I go anywhere with my companion, [he says] “Is there ever a day when we go out and you not meet someone, you don’t know someone?” I think it worked out for me.


C: What part of FIN AIFF would you recommend to a newbie? Not a new volunteer, but someone who is new to Halifax and wants to go to the festival – what should they check out?

J: First I would recommend that they go through the book, get the schedule and go through the[program guide]. It would be best if they got a pass, so they can come and see what movies they want or as many movies as they want. And the people who bring the festival together are fantastic people to meet!


C: And what are you looking forward to this year?

J: Some GOOD MOVIES! Throughout the years I’ve been able to see some incredible films at the festival. My favourites were: The Dressmaker, The Handmaiden, Manchester By The Sea, and Personal Shopper.  I’m going to be working anyway, but [this year] I’m looking for some unusual movies, and some that make me go, “Oohhh I’ve got to see that again!”


C: What is your favourite film or guilty pleasure film?

J: Pretty Woman or An Officer and A Gentleman. Or this one – [Terms of] Endearment?


C: What is your best festival memory?

J: Meeting Olympia Dukakis. She had a film here which was good, it [focused on two]women. I know it will come to my mind, but I can’t tell you…. [Cloudburst!] Yes, Olympia Dukakis, meeting her was really, really nice.


C: She was premiering a film here or...?

J: She came in for, you know, after they film they have the talk, and as she was going in I said, “Hi Ms. Olympia, how are you?” and she shook my hand!

I knew she was coming so I had three postcards - Mahone Bay, Halifax, and somewhere else - and I gave them to her. I just said, “Enjoy Halifax, Nova Scotia!”


C: What’s your favourite movie snack?








If this has inspired you to volunteer, we encourage you to visit www.finfestival.ca/volunteer to get involved! Although our major event is FIN Atlantic International Film Festival on September 13th to 20th, 2018, we also have events throughout the year which require volunteer assistance.