Here's some good news for local film lovers — Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op's new theatre in the former École Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague School gymnasium is now fully up and running.
The new cinema, located at 162 Mackenzie St., across from Sudbury Secondary School, first opened its doors for the Junction North International Documentary Film Festival at the end of February.
Despite the space needing some finishing touches — it did close for a few days in March for more work to be done — it held 70 regular film screenings last month.
The first screenings went ahead with patrons sitting on the bare wooden risers, as the chairs hadn't been delivered yet.
But the seats were finally installed in mid-March, and the space now looks like a proper theatre, although the carpets and sound panels still need to be installed once they're delivered.
Funding for the project was made possible through grants from FedNor, NOHFC (Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation), and CCO (Conseil de la Corporation de l'Ontario), as well as donations by patrons.
An official grand opening event for the theatre is planned for next month.
“It's exciting,” said Beth Mairs, managing director of Sudbury Indie Cinema.
“We've sold 80 new charter memberships in the first month, and that's just people coming through the door because they're excited there's a rep house cinema in Sudbury.
“They're buying a lifetime membership just as soon as they come along with their tickets. So yeah, we're pretty encouraged about that.”
There's definitely room for growth when it comes to attendance, but it's still early days.
“We don't have the numbers that we are looking for yet, but as I say, we are growing,” Mairs said, adding that there was a definite spike in attendance once the seats went in.
“We also don't have the promotion budget or advertising, and our films don't either, because they're very niche films.
“What we do have instead is word of mouth, and so what's happening is is the numbers, they just keep increasing because people are bringing their friends.”
Sudbury Indie Cinema doesn't screen the same type of films as mainstream theatres — in fact, Mairs said there hasn't been any overlap so far.
They're films that have won awards at film festivals, or are produced by local or Canadian filmmakers.
Several of them were screened during Cinéfest last year, and Sudbury Indie Cinema is giving them a local theatrical release.
Mairs said they're more thought-provoking fare than your average Hollywood blockbuster.
“When people come out of a film here, there's often conversations, if someone can talk at all, because sometimes someone says 'I need time to process that,'” she said.
The new cinema even has a concession stand, which features environmentally friendly compostable popcorn bags.
Unlike most theatres, outside food is welcome — Mairs said the cinema considers itself a part of the community, and doesn't have a problem if someone brings in a coffee from a local restaurant, for example.
During the month of April, there's a rotation of 13 films being screened. You can check out the list of films below, and a calendar of screening times is available through the Sudbury Indie Cinema website.
Tickets cost $10 for members, $14 for non-members, $5 on Tuesdays and $5 for Thursday matinees. Lifetime memberships to Sudbury Indie Cinema Co-op are available for $40.
April screenings at Sudbury Indie Cinema
- Never Look Away - Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film by the Academy, and Best Motion Picture by the Golden Globes. Young artist Kurt Barnert has fled to West-Germany, but he continues to be tormented by the experiences he made in his childhood and youth in the Nazi years and during the GDR-regime.
- Free Solo - A stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock … the 3,000 foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park … without a rope. Won Best Documentary Feature 2019 Academy Awards.
- Wildlife - The directorial debut of Paul Dano, this drama elegantly adapts Richard Ford’s novel of the same name. Carey Mulligan delivers her finest performances to date as Jeanette, a complex woman whose self-determination and self-involvement disrupts the values and expectations of a 1960s nuclear family.
- Falls Around Her - Tantoo Cardinal shines as a world-famous Anishinaabe musician who returns to the reserve to rest and recharge — only to discover that fame (and the outside world) are not easily left behind, in local writer-director Darlene Naponse’s riveting portrait of resilience set among a northern First Nation.
- Styx - The film depicts the transformation of a strong woman torn from her contented world during a sailing trip. When she becomes the only person to come to the aid of a group of refugees shipwrecked on the high seas, she is shown the limits of her importance and of the empathy of her cultural milieu.
- Goalie - Filmed in Sudbury and featuring many local actors, as well as renowned impressionist, comedian and actor Kevin Pollack, the life of a professional hockey player was not always a glamorous one. For legendary goaltender Terry Sawchuk, each save means one more gash to his unmasked face and one more drink to numb the pain. Even with a wife and seven children at home, he is haunted by the void left from his childhood which he tried to fill with cheering crowds. Sawchuk traveled across the country racking up 103 shutouts and 400 stitches to his face, proving that this is a man who lives, breathes, and dies a goalie.
- The Charmer - This is an intense psychological drama about Esmail, a young Iranian man who is desperately looking to meet women who can secure his stay in Denmark. As time is running out, his social life takes a poignant turn.
- Destroyer - The film follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman) who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past.
- Chien de Garde - A poignant exploration of the dysfunctional family, Chien de Garde centres on JP (Jean-Simon Leduc), who lives with his brother Vincent (Theodore Pellerin), his mother Joe and his girlfriend Mel in a cramped apartment in the Verdun area of Montreal. Nominated for four Canadian Screen Awards including Best Picture as well as eight Prix Iris, winning three.
- Anthropocene: The Human Epoch - The film is a cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet. At the intersection of art and science, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch witnesses in an experiential and non-didactic sense a critical moment in geological history — bringing a provocative and unforgettable experience of our species’ breadth and impact.
- Mademoiselle de Joncqieres - Set in the 18th-century French countryside, Emmanuel Mouret’s plush period drama is inspired by the same anecdote from Diderot’s Jacques le Fataliste that provided the basis for Robert Bresson’s classic Les Dames de Bois de Boulogne. Following the death of her husband, Madame de La Pommeraye (Cécile de France) has retired into virtual seclusion, until she finds herself being wooed by the dashing Marquis de Arcis (Edouard Baer). When she is eventually spurned by her new lover, the vengeful Madame sets about orchestrating her revenge, with the beautiful, young Mademoiselle de Joncquières (Alice Isaaz) as her instrument.
- Invisible Essence: The Little Prince -The film explores the global legacy of The Little Prince 75 years after its publication. Weaving the author Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s extraordinary biography with fascinating discussions of key sections of the book, the film explores the ways life and art reflect one another in curious ways. Indeed, the film reveals that St-Ex’s own story – his childhood, his love affair, his friendships, his politics, and his harrowing brushes with death – inform the story at every turn.
- Giant Little Ones - Franky Winter (Josh Wiggins) and Ballas Kohl (Darren Mann) have been best friends since childhood. They are high school royalty: handsome, stars of the swim team and popular with girls. They live a perfect teenage life – until the night of Franky's epic 17th birthday party, when Franky and Ballas are involved in an unexpected incident that changes their lives forever. Giant Little Ones is a heartfelt and intimate coming-of-age story about friendship, self-discovery and the power of love without labels.