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Pair of Sarnia directors adding CanCon to SWIFF film lineup

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Troy Shantz

The film festival that “brings us the world” is heading back to school on opening night.

The Southwestern International Film Festival will launch its fourth season Nov. 8 by screening its first film at the 1,200-seat Great Lakes Secondary School.

“We know that everything is sort of in flux with the new school site… and people wanted to save SCITS and keep it going,” said organizer Ravi Srinivasan.

“We thought this is a perfect setting for the film… while also throwing one last party at Great Lakes.”

First up is the Indie hit Eighth Grade by YouTuber and comedian Bo Burnham. The film, which earned a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, looks at the life and challenges of a girl entering high school for the first time.

“Something funny, fresh and positive for opening night, which has sort of had more serious content the last couple of years,” said Srinivasan.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 or free with a valid student card. Students under 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

An opening night reception for festival-goers with an All Access pass is scheduled for Nov. 8 prior to the film, at 136 Christina St. North.

The festival returns to the Imperial Theatre for the other films running the rest of the weekend.

Remarkably, they include entries from two Sarnia filmmakers, with Patricia Rozema and Bruce Sweeney each having a new release this year.

Rozema’s Mouthpiece is an adapted play that follows a woman dealing with the death of her mother.

“We’re really excited to bring her back to the festival as one of the most recognizable directors in the country,” said Srinivasan.

And from TIFF-award winning director Bruce Sweeney comes Kingsway, a romantic comedy about suicide, infidelity and in-laws.

Both directors will either be on hand or available via Skype for Q&As following the screenings, Srinivasan said.

The festival has grown each year and this year’s line-up is the best yet, he added.

“We’re seeing it go up and up.”

Film lineup:

Beautiful Boy (USA)

Birds of Passage (Columbia)

Burning (South Korea)

Eighth Grade (USA)

Kingsway (Canada)


Minding the Gap (USA)

Mouthpiece (Canada)

Rafiki (Kenya)

Roads in February (Canada)

You Were Never Really Here (UK)

– More films to be announced


WHAT: Southwestern International Film Festival (SWIFF)

WHEN: Nov. 8 – 11

WHERE: Imperial Theatre and Great Lakes Secondary Theatre

TICKETS: For packages and showtimes visit


Music series back and running in tandem with film festival

Those not interested in the flicks at SWIFF this year can always feast their ears at CineGAZE, the music series that runs in conjunction with the film festival.

“We want to keep the younger people in community engaged with the programming,” said SWIFF organizer Ravi Srinivasan. “We’re trying to bring something for everyone.”

CineGAZE runs Nov. 9 and 10 in the former Taylor’s building at 136 Christina St. North.

As in previous years, organizers have tried to mix new and upcoming indie acts with local bands city music fans are familiar with, Srinivasan said.

Friday night’s headliner is the Craig Brown Band. Srinivasan said he’s represented by Jack White’s record label, Detroit-based Third Man Records.

“A little bit of Tom Petty with a couple extra shots of tequila,” he said with a laugh.

The night kicks off with Sarnia’s Rodney James and the Riot, and the energetic five-piece band Carinae.

Saturday night features local favourites Dreamseer, as well as Secret Sign and Mother Tongues.


WHAT: CineGAZE music series

WHERE: 136 Christina St. North (former Taylor’s building)

WHEN: Nov. 9-10, 9:00 p.m.

TICKETS: $15 advance, $20 at door, available at


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