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Live music and film series to run in tandem with SWIFF

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Troy Shantz

When Sarnia’s own Southwestern International Film Festival returns next month it could draw from a wider audience, thanks to new provincial funding.

“It allowed us to have a bit of a bigger budget and try to get some exposure outside of Sarnia,” SWIFF organizer Ravi Srinivasan said of the grant form the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

The festival is working with radio stations at Fanshawe College and Western University and offering visitors deals on hotels.

SWIFF runs Nov. 2 to 5.

While the film lineup is still being finalized, Srinivasan did confirm that the documentary ‘New Chefs on the Block’ is part of a new initiative.

Food on Films will combine a screening of the doc and a four-course meal by local chef Paresh Thakkar. Following the film, Thakkar will participate in a Q&A with the audience and director Dustin Harrison Atlas.

“We’re going to sit down after with Paresh and talk about his experience starting his restaurant in Sarnia, while getting some insight from the director, ” Srinivasan said.

Tickets for the Nov. 4 event at Mixx Lounge are $135 each. For the 4 p.m. screening alone tickets are $15, and $12 for students.

Also returning this year is CineGaze, a two-night event that pairs a curated film with musical acts and which runs in tandem with SWIFF. Eight acts will perform over the festival weekend at Memorable Moments, 148 Front St. N.

The Nov. 3 headliner is New York’s Shilpa Ray, who is making her only Canadian tour date stop here.

“It’s really shocking to me that she hasn’t ‘blown up’ yet.” admitted Srinivasan. “Her lyrics are really smart, and I think she’s going to blow people away when they see her.”

Canadian rockers Born Ruffians perform Nov. 4, with former Sarnia musicians Twin Rains, led by Christina Stoesser, opening the evening.

Srinivasan said SWIFF and CineGaze are following the template used by South by Southwest, an annual music and film festival in Austin, Texas.

“I think it’s a great way to engage younger people in the community, while film will always continue to engage an older audience,” he said.

For film and concert tickets or more information visit

The complete film list and schedule is being announced on Friday, Oct. 6.



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