Bay Street Film Festival — New Beginnings, New Location, New Name

By Kris Ketonen

This month, the Bay Street Film Festival enters a new era. Now in its 13th year, the festival will once again light up a big screen in downtown Port Arthur with a selection of films from around the world. This year, however, marks some big changes for the annual event.

First, coordinator Dennis Dubinsky says, the Bay Street Film Festival has moved from its previous home at the Finlandia Club to new digs at Trinity Hall on Park Avenue. “We’re still in the same general area, but this venue has much more room,” Dubinsky says. “[It] seats almost 450, so almost double the Finlandia’s capacity.”

The layout, too, allows for more flexibility than the Finlandia did. “We have access to a lot of [Trinity United Church]—their assembly hall, their second chapel, and a lot of their offices on the main floor, where we can have our other events going on,” he says. “It’s not as spread out and disjointed.”

Luke Grandmont, a graduate of Confederation College’s film program; his film “The Maltese Guinea Pig” screened at last year’s festival

Of course, moving the festival away from Bay Street presented organizers with another problem—the name. Therefore, Dubinsky says that after this year’s event wraps up, the Bay Street Film Festival will undergo a name change, becoming the Vox Popular Media Arts Festival. “We’re more than just a film festival,” he says, adding the event includes interactive installations in addition to film screenings and workshops. “We thought we’d better call ourselves a media arts festival instead.”

As for the film side of things, this year will see 54 films screened. Of those, 33 are Canadian, and 18 come from Thunder Bay and the surrounding region. “We have a great selection,” he says. “Our shortest is two-and-a-half minutes, and our longest is feature length. While we have a lot of documentaries, there’s also a lot of short comedies, short dramas, about 10 animated films this year.”

“So we’re trying to get a mix,” Dubinsky says. “Films you’re not necessarily going to see elsewhere.”

The Bay Street Film Festival runs September 14-17. Tickets for individual sessionswhich include several films and last about three hourswill be available at the door. Weekend passes are being sold in advance at all Thunder Bay libraries, Calico Coffeehouse, or at baystreetfilmfestival.ca.