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Celebrated “Room” author to attend city film screening

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Tara Jeffrey

The Oscar-nominated screenwriter of the film ‘Room’ is coming to Sarnia this summer for a Q&A and special screening of the acclaimed drama.

“We think this is the first time an academy award-nominated artist has ever been to Sarnia for something like this,” organizer Ravi Srinivasan said of Emma Donoghue.

An evening with "Room" author and academy-award nominee Emma Donoghue will co-incided with the film's screening in Sarnia. Submitted Photo
An evening with “Room” author and academy-award nominee Emma Donoghue will co-incided with the film’s screening in Sarnia.
Submitted Photo

The Irish-Canadian playwright, who turned her novel of the same name into a screenplay for the massively successful film last year, is currently living in London, Ont.

The special screening of Room, followed by ‘An evening with Emma Donoghue,’ will take place at the Imperial Theatre on Aug. 12 as part of the South Western International Film Festival.

SWIFF is the brainchild of Srinivasan, a Corunna native and St. Patrick’s High School grad. In addition to working with the Toronto International Film Festival and REEL Canada, he is striving to make Sarnia a cultural hotspot for movie lovers and aspiring filmmakers.

“It came up in conversation that [Donoghue] lives in London, and a light bulb just went off,” said Srinivasan, whose inaugural SWIFF event drew 4,000 attendees to the downtown over four days last November.

“So I immediately sent her an email… and we worked out a date for her to come.”

He originally thought Donoghue could help kick off the 2016 festival, running Nov. 3-6, but she had prior commitments, so a separate event was set for August.

“We want to have year-round programming, to really keep people engaged,” Srinivasan said.

Room, starring Brie Larson and Canadian child actor Jacob Tremblay, was nominated for four academy awards (including Larson’s win for Best Actress). It also won audience awards at eight festivals and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay and won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a dramatic role.

The film follows five-year-old Jack, who lives in a single room with his Ma and has never been outside. The pair is held captive there until a risky escape plan unfolds.

It’s a heavy storyline, said Srinivasan, but one of resilience.

Ravi Srinivasan
Ravi Srinivasan

He also points to fellow St. Pat’s grad Kate Drummond, who plays a small role as a neighbour in the film.

Donoghue’s appearance follows last year’s high profile Q&A with acclaimed Canadian filmmaker and Sarnia native Patricia Rozema, who brought her film ‘Into the Forest’ to SWIFF.

Having strong, females in film is an important element of the festival, Srinivasan said, noting significant interest from a large number of young women who attended last year’s workshops on screenwriting, documentary filmmaking and acting — which ran alongside the festival for some 50 local students.

“Patricia (Rozema) had a big impact and I know Emma will, too,” he said. “I really want to continue on with that.”

SWIFF 2016 will add more films, to be announced in the fall, along with a music component, and film workshops featuring local filmmaker Aaron Huggett, Northern Collegiate grad Lauren MacKinlay, and Canadian filmmaker Jonathan Staav.

For more information on SWIFF, visit


WHAT: Screening of ‘Room’ and Q&A with Emma Donoghue

WHEN: Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Imperial Theatre, Sarnia

DETAILS: Tickets available at the Imperial Theatre Box Office


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