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.