The 23rd annual St. John's International Women's Film Festival opened with a big splash Tuesday night.

Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta was on hand to walk the red carpet at the Arts and Culture Centre for the screening of her new film, Midnight's Children.

It's an adaptation of an award-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, who also wrote the screenplay.

Festival chair Noreen Golfman scouted out Midnight's Children while at this year's Cannes Film Festival. She said it was time to prove that big movies don't just belong at larger centres like Toronto.

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Noreen Golfman: 'It's another signal, I think more than just symbolic, of the pinnacle we've reached.' (CBC )

"Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Media Fund really wanted to show that communities outside those centres are engaged in watching film, will promote it, [and] will endorse it," she said.

Golfman said the filmmaker's appearance marked an important moment in the festival's history.

"Her presence here is a charmed opportunity for us because it lends stature, let's face it, to the festival, to the town, to the province," she said.

"It's another signal, I think more than just symbolic, of the pinnacle we've reached."

Golfman said this brings the local festival to another level.

"It marks for us a milestone of achievement of being able to host what's really an international event. So we're talking blue chip, not just Canadian, but international."

The St. John's International Women's Film Festival runs until Oct. 20. More information can be found on the festival's website.