Thunder Bay

North of Superior Film Association hopes to resume screenings next year

Thunder Bay's film buffs will have to be patient when it comes to a resumption of North of Superior Film Association screenings.

2021 Northwest Film Fest cancelled due to pandemic

Marty Mascarin, president of the North of Superior Film Association, says the organization hopes it can resume film screenings next year. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

Thunder Bay's film buffs will have to be patient when it comes to a resumption of North of Superior Film Association (NOSFA) screenings.

NOSFA — which also runs the annual Northwest Film Fest — has put a hold on its activities for the time being, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hope is, screenings at Thunder Bay's SilverCity theatre could resume next year.

But, NOSFA president Marty Mascarin said, there's still a great deal of uncertainty and much depends on the response to COVID-19.

"There's a number of logistics that would be confronting us," Mascarin said, adding any resumption of services would also involve "taking the temperature of the local business community, which understandably is really taking a beating because of the pandemic."

"We would have to take a survey of our business partners to see who would be amenable to getting involved again," he said. "Realistically, we don't anticipate that for some time."

Mascarin said there's a seasonality to NOSFA operations that needs to be taken into account, as well, with screening attendance dropping sharply in the spring, following the Northwest Film Fest, which is held in April (this year's festival was cancelled due to the pandemic).

NOSFA has actually done away with spring screenings, since attendance was so low. Therefore, Mascarin said, it may not be feasible for NOSFA to restart its programming until fall 2022, even if indoor gatherings are allowed before that.

NOSFA posted an update on its activities on Facebook on Wednesday.

"There has been some responses on our Facebook page, that people were sort of glad to hear our voice, because we had been relatively quiet since the pandemic," Mascarin said. "So we just wanted to put our voice out there saying, 'hey, we're still here and, you know, we'd still like to come back.'"

Mascarin said it's likely NOSFA would poll its patrons about how they're feeling with regards to indoor gatherings, prior to resuming screenings.

"We would like to think … if you've got the greater portion of the population vaccinated, whether it's 80, 85, 90 per cent, that there'd be greater confidence in going back to indoor gatherings, whatever the event may be," he said. "But we'd want to pay some attention to our patrons first and to ensure that they have their confidence."