Sudbury's Cinéfest festival embracing the movie theatre experience

·2 min read
The Friday night gala film, North of Normal, was filmed in northern Ontario and tells the story of a teenage girl who was raised in the wilderness and hopes for a normal life when she moves to the city with her mother. (Submitted by Cinéfest Sudbury - image credit)
The Friday night gala film, North of Normal, was filmed in northern Ontario and tells the story of a teenage girl who was raised in the wilderness and hopes for a normal life when she moves to the city with her mother. (Submitted by Cinéfest Sudbury - image credit)

For its 34th year, Sudbury's Cinéfest International Film Festival will continue with the hybrid model it had during the COVID-19 pandemic, but with a greater focus on in-person screenings.

This year's festival, which runs from Sept. 17 to Sept. 25, will feature about 130 movies from around the world. Forty-four of those movies will be available to watch through an online streaming platform.

"Sometimes when there's chaos there's opportunity as well, and wonderful things that come of that," said Tammy Frick, the festival's executive director.

"The pandemic showed us that, yes, people would like to have access. We have people that live in remote areas, in Ontario in particular, that can't always make it here in person."

Frick said this year will be an opportunity to celebrate seeing the movies in the threatre. But she said some films, especially short films, do lend themselves to being viewed at home through online streaming.

Cinéfest received more than 200 film submissions for its lineup, which Frick said set a record for the festival.

"This industry is resilient," she said.

"We kept thinking throughout this whole thing that, you know, it's more difficult to make films, all the protocols and everything else and this industry just said. 'No way, we're still doing it.'"

Part of the festival's focus is to shine a light on filmmakers from northern Ontario, and movies made in the region.

Jonathan Migneault/CBC
Jonathan Migneault/CBC

The Friday night gala film, called North of Normal, was filmed in Greater Sudbury, North Bay and Mattawa.

It tells the story of a teenage girl who was raised in the wilderness and hopes for a normal life when she moves to the city with her mother.

For the third year, the festival will have its Cinema Indigenized film lineup, with a focus on movies from Indigenous artists.

Bones of Crows, from filmmaker Marie Clements, will also screen at the Toronto International Film Festival ahead of Cinéfest.

The movie is an account of the life of Cree matriarch and residential school survivor Aline Spears that spans 100 years.

"There's just a great range and that's what we're loving about bringing these Indigenous stories and expressing upon people the need not just for reconciliation, but to talk about our responsibility as individuals to improve relations and look at the history, and have an understanding of why reconciliation is so important," said Cinéfest managing director Patrick O'Hearn.

Cinéfest will take place at SilverCity Sudbury Cinemas.

Festival organizers said they plan to release the full lineup of movies next week.