The Northwest Film Festival Has Still Got It
By Neil Burke
This year marks the 27th year of the Northwest Film Festival. Co-founded in 1992 by Michael Gravelle and Siobhan Farrell, the North of Superior Film Association (NOSFA) general mandate was, as long-serving president Marty Mascarin says, “to feature both domestic and international films that otherwise were not seen in commercial theatres in Thunder Bay.” The festival’s first home was the Cumberland Theatre, leased by the Cineplex Odeon at the time.
According to Mascarin, NOSFA “also supports local and regional film initiatives, occasionally screening full-length films—such as Angelique’s Isle, which was partially shot in Thunder Bay utilizing both local actors and crews—and short films for inclusion in the film fest, as well as issuing cash awards to the top films in the graduating class of the film production department at Confederation College.” Mascarin adds, “Programming consisted of bi-weekly screenings every second Thursday—and still does, with the odd variations.” Screenings currently take place at SilverCity, where the festival moved at the start of season 18.
The festival’s volunteer board consists of 9 to 12 (or sometimes 13) members, and each year they scout the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and Cinefest, a major regional film festival in Sudbury that succeeds TIFF, with a board member attending each. From there, NOSFA accumulates a list of titles from the board members and patrons. Of course, the release dates often dictate the film’s availability. Every year, NOSFA tries to feature a combination of dramas, comedies, and documentaries.
While the festival focuses the spotlight on Canadian films, it has a strong list of international films from prior years, including films from France, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy to name a few.
Mascarin says this year’s titles will be revealed at a media conference shortly before the festival. “This way, all media learn the information at the same time,” he says. “No exceptions.” He also adds that at this point not all the titles have been confirmed, and that they “have about half the slate confirmed, totalling 28 titles.” He does reveal, however, that NOSFA is re-screening Colette with Keira Knightley.
The festival dates are April 7 and 14, with a prelude screening on April 4, and an interlude screening on April 10.
For more information on both the festival, its previous seasons, and more visit nosfa.ca or its Facebook page North of Superior Film Association.