In-person events return to the South Western International Film Festival

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After the pandemic moved the Southwest Sarnia International Film Festival online last year, the seventh annual celebration of films and music is expected to welcome audiences in person and online from 17-21 November.

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“There was definitely a void last year with everything online,” said Ravi Srinivasan, former executive director and founder of the festival. “We are delighted that the Imperial (Theater) is back up and running. “

Patrons of the annual festival posted on social media “telling us how excited they are to start watching movies in theaters again and being with the community again,” Srinivasan said.

This year’s festival will present 14 feature films, as well as three short film programs.

“The shorts are free to the public, in person and online,” Srinivasan said.

The festival also offers three workshops for students and adults which are also free.

“Our two-night concert series is also back,” Srinivasan said.

Festival passes are available on the event site, www.swiff.ca . Festival screenings will be available both for in-person screenings at the Imperial Theater and the Sarnia Library Theater, and for online viewing.

Indigenous filmmaker Danis Goulet’s film Night Raiders will open this year’s festival on November 17.

“Danis Goulet is a famous writer, programmer and NIGHT RAIDERS makes her one of the most promising filmmakers working in Canada today,” said Srinivasan.

“It’s an incredible multi-genre achievement and, in terms of scale and scope, one of the greatest Indigenous films ever made.”

Goulet will participate in a post-screening question and answer session in Sarnia.

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Another film in this year’s lineup is Scarborough, directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson, which “was a big hit at TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival)” and won its Changemaker Award, said Srinivasan.

“It’s that seamless portrait of three low-income families struggling to succeed within a system that has kind of set them up for failure,” he said. “I think this can resonate with many communities in Sarnia. “

Directors will also be in Sarnia to answer questions after the screening, Srinivasan said.

Drunken Birds, Canada’s nomination for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars, is also showing at the festival and director Ivan Grbovic will participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening in Sarnia.

The festival’s Cinegaze concert series will take place at Collide, 148 Front Street, November 19-20, with lineup that includes Sarnia native Christine Stoesser with her band Twin Rains and Danny Alexander with band Secret Sign .

No Tickets at the Door, a documentary film Alexander made during the pandemic, will also be screened during the festival.

“Last year I tried, to be honest,” Srinivasan said. “We started SWIFF to get the community involved, so when you’re not in person it’s tough. “

But the festival had to face the same hand that everyone was treated during the pandemic last year “and I am proud of the team, the support of the community, the support of the local sponsors, who gave us kept alive, ”he said.

“We are delighted to be back in front of the audience,” Srinivasan said.

“Going to the movies and going to concerts, and coming back to community events, is part of getting back to normal. I am grateful that SWIFF is going to be a part of this.

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Gerald R. Schneider

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