There’s a group of volunteers from Sarnia who very happily spend their free time attending some of Ontario’s biggest film festivals.
And those of us who attend cineSARNIA all benefit.
These lucky volunteers attend the festivals, screen some of the best movies of the year, and help decide what ones to bring to Sarnia.
This weekend, a number of them are at Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival, hoping to confirm the selection of 11 movies that will be shown this cineSARNIA season.
CineSARNIA was founded by the late George Allan and Peter Henderson in 1995. At the time, the idea was to bring foreign films to Sarnia that would otherwise not be seen locally.
As the concept evolved, fewer foreign films made the roster. Over the years, cineSARNIA has showcased many of the year’s most entertaining and award-winning films at the Sarnia Library auditorium. Some continue to have subtitles.
Possibly, cineSARNIA’s most successful season was in 2016. Lineups formed to get into most shows that year and there were more than 550 season ticket holders.
The pandemic was obviously a setback and crowds were thinner when cineSARNIA resumed last year. However, Sarnians love their movies and the 2022 season ended in the black.
Expectations are high for this season, which kicks off Sunday with a docu-drama called The Lost King. The film is based on the true story of Phillippa Langley, an amateur historian who remarkably lead the effort to uncover the remains of King Richard III in a carpark in Leicester.
Langley, portrayed by Sally Hawkins, must fight for the recognition she deserves in a sort of David and Goliath battle with the stodgy academic establishment.
The Lost King has been called life-affirming and engaging as it examines the prejudices against amateurs and the sexism that Langley experienced every step of the way.
“CineSARNIA is a great opportunity for the community,” says retired English teacher Daniel DeVries. He’s volunteered with the group for 25 years and is optimistic ticket sales will continue to recover this year.
Seasons tickets for all 11 films cost $99, while tickets for the first five this fall can be purchased for $55. As always, rush tickets are available 15 minutes before each show for $12 each. Online ticket purchases are encouraged at cinesarnia.com.
CineSARNIA is part of a film circuit, which operates in conjunction with the Toronto International Film Festival Group. TIFF distributors assemble a list of films twice a year that groups like cineSARNIA can consider for local viewing.
It means movies that aren’t in our local movie theatre do get screened in Sarnia, DeVries said.
That is of particular note now that the popular SWIFF (South Western International Film Festival) in Sarnia has been cancelled this fall after the death of founder Ravi Srinivasan.
Rounding out this fall’s cineSARNIA season are: The Quiet Girl on Oct. 15 & 16; The Return of Tanya Tucker Nov. 5 & 6; Past Lives Nov. 19 & 20; and Peace By Chocolate Dec. 3 & 4. The winter season is to be announced once the volunteers return from their scouting trips.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: The CineSARNIA series begins with the film The Lost King
WHEN: Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. and Monday, Sept. 25, starting at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Sarnia Library Auditorium.
TICKETS: Purchase online at cinesarnia.com.