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Cinéfest 2019 sneak peek includes star-packed Vietnam war film and doc about victims of local pedophile priest

'We just work so hard all year for this,' says festival dir. Tammy Frick 

Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival offered its fans a sneak peek of its 2019 lineup Thursday, revealing just 14 of the roughly 130 films that will be screened during the Sept. 14-22 festival.

The full lineup is expected to be released during the second week of August.

“We just work so hard all year for this,” said Tammy Frick, executive director with Cinéfest.

“The launch conference is always so much fun because it sets the tone. It introduces the theme for any given year, and it also lets us to have an opportunity to talk about what's coming.

“We've been watching films voraciously since about May, and so much more to see. It's a great year, and we're just always so excited to share these wonderful films with our audience.”

She said the four programmers with the festival watch about 2,500 films and whittle them down to what people see at Cinéfest.

Once again, Frick said the festival features a strong contingent of Canadian films, including those filmed in Northern Ontario.

“We're seeing films coming from every nook and cranny of the north, and they're really solid — they're high quality,” she said.

“They won't just be screening at our festival, they'll be at larger festivals as well. It's really, really encouraging to see these films doing so well.”

Just one of the gala evening film presentations was released at the press conference.

“The Last Full Measure,” which will be screened Monday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m., has a superstar cast of Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Jeremy Irvine, William Hurt, Christopher Plummer and Diane Ladd.

Based on the true story of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr., who was killed in the Vietnam War, the film features efforts 34 years after Pitsenbarger's death to award him the nation's highest military honour.

“It's going to be a big film,” said Frick. “It's probably going to be one of the largest war films coming out over the next few years.”

She added that there's not a lot of epic war films about the Vietnam War — most are about the First World War or Second World War. 

What's also interesting about “The Last Full Measure” is that while it features some battle scenes, it's really about the politics behind the war.

Also featured at the press conference was the documentary “Prey,” about the victims of the late Father Hod Marshall, who decades ago abused children at schools including Sudbury's St. Charles College. (The screening date and time for “Prey” is still TBA).

Filmmaker Matt Gallagher, along with Ted Holland, one of the survivors of Marshall's abuse, attended the press conference.

“It's very, very important for us to put this on the big screen,” said Frick, adding that by exposing abuse, it sends the message that such actions are unacceptable.

Gallagher, who's from Windsor, where Marshall also abused kids, said he's been following the story since 2005, when many of the priest's victims came forward.

“I started to reach out to all these other survivors and sort of document how it happened and why it happened and how are they looking for healing,” he said.

Given that Marshall was convicted for his crimes and sent to jail before his 2014 death, Gallagher thought the story wouldn't go any further.

“But what has happened since, which my film documents, is the civil action,” he said. “All these men are going to the church and filing these civil suits.”

Gallagher said he's pleased to be screening the film at Cinéfest

“It's very important for me to screen here because I'm sure there are still victims walking around that were attached to St. Charles,” he said.

Here's a full list of the films announced so far by Cinéfest:

***note (screening dates and times TBA unless otherwise stated)

  • The Last Full Measure (screening Monday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.) - Thirty-four years after his death, Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr. ("Pits") is awarded the nation's highest military honor, for his actions on the battlefield.
  • Astronaut - A lonely widower battles his family, ill health and time to win a competition for a golden ticket to space.
  • The Artist's Wife — Claire Smythson, wife of the renowned abstract artist Richard Smythson, is plunged into a late-life crisis when her husband is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and is in danger of not completing the paintings for his final show.
  • The Lodge — A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé's two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.
  • Parasite — All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.
  • Prey — Most civil, clergy sex abuse cases are settled quietly, out-of-court and far from public view. But Prey follows one survivor and his lawyer as they pursue justice through a public trial in the hopes of forcing the dark and hidden story of clergy sexual abuse to light. 
  • From the Vine — A downtrodden man experiences an ethical crisis and travels back to his hometown in rural Italy to recalibrate his moral compass. There he finds new purpose in reviving his grandfather's old vineyard.
  • The 20th Century — Toronto, 1899. Aspiring politician Mackenzie King hesitates in love between a heroic soldier he believes himself destined to marry and a psoriasis-addled spinster and learns that with unrequited love, it’s never over until you’ve completely humiliated yourself.
  • Standing on the Line — The film sets out to break the code of silence that reigns in amateur and professional sports when it comes to athletes who are gay.
  • Brotherhood — In 1926, a band of teenage boys arrive at Long Point Camp for the adventure of their lives. When their canoe capsizes in a freak summer storm, their holiday descends into a soul-shuddering fight for survival. Was filmed in Sault Ste. Marie and Michipicoten First Nation near Wawa.
  • Honey Bee — Follows the journey of Natalie "Honey Bee" Sorensen, an underage truck stop prostitute trapped in a human trafficking ring until she is transplanted into foster care in remote Northern Ontario and forced to confront her identity. Was filmed in North Bay.
  • Riot Girls — In an alternate 1995, a mysterious disease has wiped out all of the adults. In this new age, two gangs are pitted against each other in a brutal war for territory, resources and survival.
  • The Cat and the Moon — Whilst his mother seeks treatment in rehab, teenager Nick (Wolff) comes to New York to stay with Cal (Epps), a Jazz musician friend of his late father's. During his stay he makes friends who show him what the city has to offer.
  • The Secret Marathon — When the first Afghan woman stood up for her freedom and ran in the Marathon of Afghanistan, she started a movement for equality that spread around the world. Zainab's story inspired legendary marathon runner Martin Parnell to imagine what his life might have been like if his gender prevented him from going outside to run.