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Cinéfest: 'The people's festival' back for another year

Sudbury's own film festival runs Sept. 16-24 
Cinéfest Sudbury executive director Tammy Frick and managing director Patrick O'Hearn show off the film “De Pere en Flic 2,”one of the many movies that will be screened during the film festival. They stand inside the screening booth at SilverCity, where the festival takes place. (Arron Pickard/

The week local film aficionados look forward to all year is finally here. The 29th edition of Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival kicks off Saturday, Sept. 16, and runs until Sunday, Sept. 24.

Cinéfest managing director Patrick O'Hearn said he thinks there's going to be a “great response” to this year's lineup of 125 films, which includes a gala slot for the Sudbury-shot film “Indian Horse.” 

“This is one of the best programs I've been associated with,” he said.

Film festivals give people the chance to take in a lot of quality films in a short period of time, O'Hearn said.

“People who are drawn to independent films, they want to see something outside of the mainstream, something they might not get a chance to see anywhere else,” he said.

Cinéfest attracts a group of super-fans who see up to 30 movies in a week.

But it's also popular with 9 to 5 workers, which is why this year there's a new a program called Cinema 9 Prime Time, making more films available on weekday evenings.

“It's a great opportunity for families to see more films, and for working professionals,” O'Hearn said.

Running at SilverCity Cinemas each September on the heels of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cinéfest always gets compliments on its relaxed atmosphere, O'Hearn said.

“We pride ourselves on being the people's festival,” he said. “We want you to come in and see as many films as you want. You have to be comfortable to do that.”

For the full Cinéfest lineup, visit the festival's website.

Cinéfest 2017 gala films

Opening Night Gala (Sept. 16) - Long Time Running - For the first time, Cinéfest opens with a documentary. This film profiles the Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip during their Man Machine Poem Tour of 2016, which followed the band's announcement that lead singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. 

Sunday Night Gala (Sept. 17)Stronger – Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it's the true story of Jeff Bauman, who loses his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing and must adjust to his new life. 

Monday Night Gala (Sept. 18) - Call Me by Your Name - This English-language, internationally co-produced, coming-of-age drama has Oscar buzz. A 17-year-old named Elio, living in Italy during the 1980s, meets Oliver, a 24-year-old academic who has come to stay at his parents' villa, and a passionate relationship develops between them. 

Tuesday Night Gala (Sept. 19)Ce qui nous lie (Back to Burgundy) - Jean returns to Burgundy at the request of his dying father, after ten years living and working in Australia. His arrival is greeted with tension and recriminations for his long, silent absence. When the father dies, Jean and his siblings, an angry brother, Jérémie and sister, Juliette who share Jean’s talent for winemaking, are faced with the prospect of having to sell their vineyards. The only alternative is for the three to come together, use their respective skills, and make great wines.

Wednesday Night Gala (Sept. 20)Breathe - Robin Cavendish, who after being given only three months to live after being paralysed from the neck down by polio at age 28, becomes a pioneering advocate for the disabled. He and his devoted wife, Diana, travel the world with the hopes of transforming the lives of others like him. 

Thursday Night Gala (Sept. 21)Borg/McEnroe - A film about one of the world's greatest icons, Björn Borg, and his biggest rival, the young and talented John McEnroe, and their legendary duel during a 1980s Wimbledon tournament. It's a story about two men who changed the face of tennis and who became legends and the price they had to pay. 

Friday Night Gala (Sept. 22)Indian Horse - Saul Indian Horse was torn from his family as a young boy and sent to one of Canada’s notorious residential schools. There, amidst the horror of abuse, psychological torture and despair, Saul finds salvation in the unlikeliest of places and favourite Canadian past-times—hockey.

Saturday Night Gala (Sept. 23)Don't Talk to Irene - Irene is 16, fat, friendless and tired of being a loser. She’s determined that this year is going to be different—Irene is going to become a cheerleader. But when a cruel prank results in her getting suspended on her first day back at school, Irene, along with her cruelest bullies, Robbie and Sarah, must endure two weeks of community service at the local retirement home. Instead of letting her bullies get the best of her, she assembles a misfit group of seniors and hatches a brilliant plan. If she can’t be a cheerleader, she’ll be the next best thing: a choreographer. 

Closing Night Gala (Sept. 24)Mary Shelley - Passionate and rebellious teenager Mary Wollstonecraft (played by Elle Fanning) finds a kindred spirit in poet Percy Shelley. Their whirlwind love affair scandalizes polite society, as the young couple gorge on literature and a bohemian life. When tragedy strikes and the couple lose their baby daughter, Mary strikes back, finding the courage and bravery to transform her pain into the world’s first science fiction novel, Frankenstein — all by the age of 18.

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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