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September 14, 2023 (Sault Ste. Marie, ON). The Shadows of the Mind Film Festival committee has reached the unanimous decision to call it a day making it official that the long running film festival will not be returning in 2024.

Festival director Bill MacPherson speaks for everyone. “While it is sad to declare an end to an event we know many people look forward to, we are all in agreement the time is right. There are a number of critical factors that have made it more and more difficult to produce a festival of the calibre we want. We set the bar high and want to leave on a positive note.”

The committee wishes to be clear on its decision so that our patrons know it was not made lightly. Shadows of the Mind has outlasted all the small film festivals that were launched around the same time in Ontario. It began in the late 1990’s with an idea floated by festival founder Mike O’Shea to local mental health and addicitions colleagues to screen films that would shine a light on mental health and addictions. The first film screened at the Kiwanis Community Theatre Centre on February 10th, 2000 and despite a two year hiatus during the pandemic, Shadows has presented over 530 films and documentaries from around the world to local audiences. Mike O’Shea is in full support of the decision. “ We set out to initiate discussion and compassion through the language of film and succeeded. The festival slogan ‘one movie can change you’, is a good one. I personally have experienced it and watched it in others. They saw a movie and they left, deeply moved.”

While industry challenges such as the immediacy of streaming services, technology, and rising costs of films and cinema rentals contribute to the decision to dissolve, the primary factor is an aging team of volunteers who are ready to step down and like many volunteer driven
organizations today, Shadows of the Mind does not have a succession plan.

MacPherson knows this all too well, having served as festival programmer for the past 15 years. “Film selection, acquisitions and festival planning takes months of preparation and it’s a skill set that requires practice and acquired knowledge”, Bill explains. “We were so fortunate that the core group worked together so well for so long, each person bringing a certain strength, with everyone willing to take responsibility.”

As a non-profit organization Shadows of the Mind concludes in good standing financially. In keeping with the Festival’s community focus the dissolution of the non-profit will be conducted over the coming months with festival assets to be dispersed to organizations in the mental health, addictions and social service sectors.

Plans are also in the works for a farewell movie night to officially mark the end of the festival. The tentative date for the last movie showing is Friday April 12th. Details will be shared when they become available.

“Everyone is in agreement we need to see one last movie together, to have the chance to welcome fellow movie lovers who have made the trek on some very snowy winter days over the years, to acknowledge the many sponsors and community partners that been instrumental in making a film festival of this calibre possible.”

Collectively, the committee sums up the Shadows experience this way: “Everything has a time and a place. We not only set out to entertain but to educate and encourage compassion and understanding of mental health and addictions and ask that each person continues this goal in their own way.”

Sincerely, the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival Committee:
Bill MacPherson
Jimmie Chiverelli
Jeff Lauzon
Terry Beale
Wendy Hamilton
Gary Huntley
Aidan Mowat
Judi Gough
Barb Reid
Paul and Marg Hurtubise
Mike O’Shea
Brien Proulx



Shadows of the Mind Film Festival regretfully announces the cancellation of our February 2021 festival due to COVID-19. 


The Shadows team extends a special message of hope to the many people living in isolation during this time.  We have compiled a list of our recommended best 10 films over the past decade and invite everyone to check out these titles.

You can also find all of our other previous films by going into our Film Archives.

If you are interested in accessing other great movies and documentaries check out these two sites.

TIFF Bell Lightbox

National Film Board of Canada

After 2 years, Shadows of the Mind makes a Huge Return!

This article was posted original on SaultOnline on  by Heidi Ivany, reposted with permission.


After two years of cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival returns with a five-day festival lineup set to screen February 22nd to 26th in Sault Ste. Marie. The movie marathon kicks off on Wednesday February 22nd with the Oscar nominated “Close” in a shared screening with Algoma International Films.

The Thursday through Sunday schedule offers 19 films from Canada and around the world, carefully curated to use the power of cinema to provoke thought and conversation about important social issues. Five screenings will be by donation/pay what you can admission, including “Love in the Time of Fentanyl” a feature documentary to be followed by a panel discussion with community partners dealing with the opioid crisis.

Afternoon and evening lineups will feature internationally acclaimed cinema: “The Inspection”, “The Good House”, “Call Jane” and “Nowhere Special” are just a few of the highlights. A strong musical selection includes “Buffy Saint-Marie – Carry It On” and “Revival69”, Ron Chapman’s documentary on the Toronto Rock & Roll Revival festival.

The annual ‘Filmed in the Sault…Screened in the Sault’ premier continues with the award-winning “The Middle Man” shot in Sault Ste. Marie in 2020 and a presentation of short films produce by Northern Ontario filmmakers.

All screenings will take place at the Grand Theatre at 641 Queen Street E.

Tickets go on sale on the website and at the Shadows Box Office on February 9, 2023 in the Station Mall, Dennis Street entrance. It will be open from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12 – 5 p.m. through the festival. Cost-saving five movie vouchers are also available for purchase online. Individual tickets are $14. Package deals are also available to allow full enjoyment of this vast array of film productions!

For a complete listing of titles, times, and ticket information, please visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Giant Little Ones Director Keith Behrman (left) speaks to a gala attendee at the 20th Annual Shadows of the Mind Gala on Saturday evening. Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline
Giant Little Ones Director Keith Behrman (left) speaks to a gala attendee at the 20th Annual Shadows of the Mind Gala on Saturday evening. Photo by Megan Pounder/SaultOnline

Overdose crisis advocates demand more funding, shorter wait times

This article was posted original on SooToday on by Alex Flood reposted with permission.


It was an educational morning at The Grand Theatre on Saturday as organizers of the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival invited Algoma Public Health to facilitate a panel discussion following the screening of Love in the Time of Fentanyl.

Set in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, the documentary highlights the experiences, traumas, and support structures involved in the ongoing overdose crisis.

The 100 or so locals who attended the showing had the chance to listen in on a panel following the documentary, where discussions were had on the overdose crisis happening in Sault Ste. Marie and its surrounding area.

The panel included participation from people with lived experience, as well as various harm reduction, treatment, and service providers, including an addiction medicine physician, Save Our Young Adults (SOYA), Maamwesying North Shore Community Health Services, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), and Sault Area Hospital (SAH).

One of Saturday’s panellists was Jill McPhee, a mother of an addicted child who currently works with SOYA.

Responding to a question about how the film reflects the opioid crisis in the Sault, McPhee took the opportunity to share how imperative it is to provide locals with a chance to receive help.

“Everybody deserves a life and a chance to live,” she says. “Giving them a chance, maybe just on that one particular day – they may choose recovery. But if they’re dead, they don’t have that choice.”

Amy Lebreton, a Sault resident who is two years clean and back to working full-time, notes that while the film was shot in Vancouver, where the issues may be more obvious compared to the Sault, it doesn’t take away from what’s happening in our own backyard.

“In the Sault, homelessness is still here, and because maybe we don’t see it as much, it makes solutions difficult in this community,” she says. “I’ve lost tons of friends to this disease, and it’s heartbreaking.”

“We need solutions and take those blinders down, or else we’re going to lose more people.”

Algoma Public Health says the number of opioid-related deaths in northern Ontario nearly doubled in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the year leading up to it.

They also noted that most opioid-related deaths are accidental, and during the first year of COVID, 64 per cent of opioid-related deaths occurred when no one was there to intervene.

Recently, several initiatives have been implemented locally to combat the crisis, including the Community Wellness Bus initiative, the Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic, the Residential Withdrawal Management and Safe Beds initiative, and the upcoming relocation of the Neighbourhood Resource Centre.

SOYA president Connie Raynor-Elliot is incredibly thankful for these interventions but says more still needs to be done.

“I love the wellness bus, but we need them more,” she says. “We need more funding. The hospital has withdrawal management coming in the future – I need that ribbon cut.”

“It’s sad when I have to transport people from Sault Ste. Marie to Elliot Lake. Suddenly, they finish detox – where do they go? Back in the streets, back in the same environment? We’re setting them up for failure.” 

“Things are coming together, but we have a long way to go.”

Wait times were also a common theme during the panel discussion.

“As the mother of an addicted child, wait times can be anywhere from six to eight months,” McPhee says. “We’re not talking a couple of weeks.”

“If you can afford private, they’ll get you in within 24 hours. We tried that with my daughter four times and probably spent well over $100,000, so we could get her help right away. There’s nothing like that for those who can’t afford it.”

When it comes to addressing the next steps of the opioid crisis in the Algoma region, Christine Gigliotti, a registered practice nurse who currently works in the RAAM clinic at the Sault Area Hospital, says eliminating stigma is near the top of her list.

“Stigma in this town is huge, and we definitely need to decrease that,” she says. “I think a lot of people are focusing on opiates, but we have struggles with so many people right now in regards to alcohol, crystal meth, stimulants, and even tobacco.”

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate.”

Brianna Marshall, a peer support worker with the Canadian Mental Health Association, was also on stage to take part in the panel discussion.

She believes putting additional focus on youth is vital.

“A lot of the addiction we’re seeing is alarmingly getting younger and younger,” she says. “It’s alarming how young the individuals are who are coming to get their harm reduction supplies.”

“They’re not there because they choose to be, but because they’re suffering.”

“I’m very excited for the new youth hub that will be in our community, and I hope it allows a lot of our youth who have experienced intergenerational addiction to get the help they need.”

Facilitating the panel on Saturday, Dr. John Tuinema from Algoma Public Health was pleased with the turnout and the discussions that were had.

“I think we had a great collaboration of people from many different aspects to the response on this crisis,” he says. “It was great to have multiple perspectives on this, and not just from the context of immediate response that’s happening but looking at prevention as well.”

To view a schedule of the remaining showings at this year’s Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, visit here.

Algoma Public Health goes to the movies to discuss opioids

This article was posted original on SooToday on by Darren Taylor. reposted with permission.


An opportunity to hear from local voices in the battle against fentanyl abuse will take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25 at The Grand Theatre when the Shadows of the Mind Film Festival will screen the documentary Love in the Time of Fentanyl.

Admission is free but donations are accepted at the door.

“Following that we’ll be hosting a discussion panel, talking about the movie, the current context and where to go from here,” said Dr. John Tuinema, Algoma Public Health acting medical officer of health, speaking to the APH board of health at its regular monthly meeting held Wednesday evening.

The panel will include Tuinema, people who have lived through the fentanyl experience, an addiction medicine physician and representatives from Save Our Young Adults, Maamwesying North Shore Community Health Services, Canadian Mental Health Association and Sault Area Hospital.

“This initiative underscores the importance of local partnerships, particularly the inclusion of voices with lived experience, as we move forward together,” Tuinema wrote in a report for the board at Wednesday’s meeting.

“In Algoma and across northern Ontario, the worsening opioid crisis remains a top concern. Algoma Public Health continues to work with partners across multiple sectors to address opioid-related harms through treatment and harm reduction approaches as well as prevention and community safety initiatives. In addition, community dialogue is very important. The opportunity to share personal narratives of hardship and success, speak about community developments, and spread messages of hope can help Algoma stay strong, together,” Tuinema wrote. 

Love in the Time of Fentanyl is an 80-minute documentary produced in 2022.

Set in Vancouver, the film looks at the Overdose Prevention Society, a supervised drug consumption site that employs active and former drug users in their fight to save lives.

Love in the Time of Fentanyl aims to look beyond the stigma of people who use fentanyl and other drugs.


Shadows of the Mind Film Festival ready to engage community

This article was posted original on SooToday on by Alex Flood reposted with permission.


A uniquely Sault Ste. Marie film festival is coming back to The Grand Theatre after two years on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think we’ve managed to come up with a very respectable lineup of films that really reflect our community and what’s happening in general,” says Bill MacPherson, the director and programmer of this month’s upcoming Shadows of the Mind Film Festival.

Now in its 22nd year, MacPherson says they’ve selected 19 films to run over the course of the five-day event. And while the festival director notes the pandemic has altered the landscape of the film industry since they last presented in 2020, their criteria for selecting each movie has remained the same.

“Our mission is mental health and addictions,” he says. “We try to look at reducing the stigma and normalizing people who may have addiction issues and see that they are people first.”

“We also want to entertain and engage people. Film is an amazing medium where you can learn while you’re being entertained.”

Several local organizations are involved with the festival this year to help educate movie goers and shed a light on the issues some of the films touch on.

A local Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder group will be holding a panel discussion after the movie The Hidden Disability is shown on Thursday, the HIV & AIDS Resource Program will have a presentation following the film After Louie on Friday, and Algoma Public Health is facilitating a film on Saturday morning called Love in the Time of Fentanyl.

MacPherson says the involvement of these groups makes the festival so much more than just sitting down to watch a movie.

“It’s a real community effort,” he says. “We have a great community with great resources to support this.”

The festival director also says the event is a fantastic opportunity to expose local talent.

The Middle Man, which was shot here in Sault Ste. Marie in 2020, hasn’t played on the big screen in the Sault, so we’re really excited about that,” he says.

“We also have a shorts program that’s going to be presented by the Sault Film Festival about filmmakers from northern Ontario.”

The Grand Theatre will be the spot to catch all 19 selected films from Feb. 22-26, which MacPherson is incredibly excited about.

“It’s a great place to show films,” he says. “Years ago, we invested in a great screen and sound system. It’s supporting the downtown which is also really important. The theatre definitely has some character.”

“One thing all of our films have in common is that they’re understated. When you watch them, you realize they don’t have the big Hollywood productions, but they’re good films with a good message.”

“We’re hoping people will come out to support the festival so we can continue carrying on.”

Single admission is $14, five movie vouchers are $60, and a festival pass is $125 which covers admission to all movies and reserved seating.

Five films are pay what you can.

A full schedule of this year’s films, as well as tickets, are available online.

Tickets can also be purchased at the Shadows Box Office, or by calling 705-542-6737.