Sudbury International Film Festival using hybrid model, gala includes North Bay-shot Lakewood with Naomi Watts

Cinéfest Sudbury's slate of films for the nine-day festival Sept. 18-26 includes the gala's showing of a film shot in North Bay, Ont., and featuring Oscar nominee Naomi Watts. Organizers have planned a hybrid model where moviegoers can attend at the theatre or watch films online.

Cinéfest filmgoers can choose to watch festival films at home or in the theatre

Cinéfest Sudbury's Friday night gala film Lakewood was shot in North Bay, Ont., and stars Oscar nominee Naomi Watts as a mother who races against time to save her child as authorities pursue an active shooter in her small town. (Submitted by Cinéfest Sudbury)

Cinéfest Sudbury will let attendees watch its slate of films either in the theatre or at home when the event runs next month.

The northern Ontario city's International Film Festival will build on lessons learned last year and offer a hybrid model for cinephiles to enjoy the best of world cinema.

"One thing that we learned last year, as we planned our first hybrid event, was that it presented us with new opportunities to expand our lineup, attract new independent films and create new great dialogues with filmmakers that we could handle virtually," said managing director Patrick O'Hearn.

Patrick O'Hearn, managing director of Cinéfest Sudbury's International Film Festival, says allowing people to watch films at home or in person will allow for more access to quality films amid the pandemic. (File Photo)

"With the pandemic still ongoing, it's important that we're bringing people the same kind of quality of films, and the same number. We're giving people access," he said.

Cinéfest was only able to show 27 films in person in 2020, but that number expanded to 60 this year. 

The Toronto International Film Festival announced on Monday it would require all attendees to submit proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before entering associated venues. O'Hearn said Cinéfest will not follow that lead at this time.

"At this moment, we're not requiring double vaccination, but we're ready to pivot," he said. "So right now, we're following statutory guidelines from the government."

However, all Cinéfest staff and volunteers will be double vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Festival highlights

As for highlights, O'Hearn said the Friday night gala Lakewood will be one to look out for. The film was shot in North Bay and stars Oscar nominee Naomi Watts as a mother who races against time to save her child as authorities pursue an active shooter in her small town.

O'Hearn said he is also excited about the Spanish film Official Competition, which stars Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas. The Monday night gala film is about a billionaire businessman who decides to make a movie to leave his mark on the world.

Cinéfest Sudbury runs Sept. 18 to 26. The in-person films will be shown at the Cineplex Theatre on BarryDowne Road.


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