Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival

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Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival
Cinefest Sudbury Office Sign.jpg
Location(s)Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
Years active30

Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, also known as Cinéfest and Cinéfest Sudbury is an annual film festival in Sudbury, Ontario,[1] held over nine days each September. It is one of the largest film festivals in Canada.[2]

First held in 1989, Cinéfest quickly became a popular destination for Canadian filmmakers.[1] Unlike the larger film festivals in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Cinéfest offered filmmakers a chance to gain exposure among more typical film audiences in a city which, at the time of its launch in 1989, had never had a venue for screening independent and non-mainstream films.[1] Cinéfest presents an annual programme of over 135 films, both domestic and international, often screened towards English and French language audiences.[1]

Cinéfest is a qualifying film festival for the Canadian Screen Awards.[3]


Patricia Rozema's I've Heard the Mermaids Singing was presented in Sudbury in 1988 at a special test screening. Planned as a onetime event, Sudbury was being used as a test market for alternative Canadian films in small communities. The result surprised everyone, with over 900 people attending the sold out screening. Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival was established a year later in 1989 as the Sudbury Film Festival, and despite some remaining skepticism, local citizens proved that a mining-oriented community could be receptive to repertory film culture, as approximately 9,000 cinema buffs crowded theatres during the three-day event.[2] The event proved so popular, in fact, that despite having booked opening gala Jesus of Montreal in a 600-seat hall rather than a movie theatre, 1,500 people lined up for the screening and the festival had to quickly add two follow-up screenings.[4] Director Cameron Haynes noted that not even the Toronto International Film Festival had been as wildly popular in its first year of operation.[4]

By 1993, Cinéfest evolved into a full-service film organization, with the festival growing to include upwards of 60 films over five days. Cinéfest Sudbury has become recognized as one of Canada's premiere film festivals. The festival has developed a distinct identity and role within its community and the media arts industry, winning provincial and national acclaim. Cinéfest currently boasts a nine-day repertoire of film programming for local, national and international guests. It is administrated by the non-profit Cultural Industries Ontario North.

Northern Film Circuit[edit]

Cinéfest Sudbury has a long history of promoting Canadian cinema and supporting the local film industry. One of the organization's most ambitious projects was the establishment of the Northern Film Circuit (NFC) in 1992. An attempt to build audiences in Northern Ontario for Canadian and international film, the NFC began with only four members. The NFC was eventually used as a model for the Film Circuit, which was developed in partnership with the Toronto International Film Festival and now operates in over 110 communities throughout Ontario.[5]

Northern Connections[edit]

Constantly working to bring knowledge to the north, Cinéfest introduced Industry Forum to the Festival's framework in 2003, an initiative that has since provided emerging and mid-career film artists with access to key film representatives, and invited partnerships between Festival, industry and educational institutions. Since the introduction of industry forum, Cinéfest has established itself as a focal point for independent filmmakers, and programmers. While the festival has a long history of presenting and supporting films that represent the output of Canada's independent film artists, Cinéfest Sudbury has also over the years extended significant support to its regional film artists. Through programs such as Northern Connections (introduced in 2003), a program which highlights the best and brightest of regional film talent, and the CTV Best in Shorts Competition, which has awarded over $92,000 in cash prizes to up-and-coming regional film talent since it was established in 2001, the festival has served as a place for regional artists to have their work seen and celebrated.


Since the overwhelming success of Cinéfest Sudbury in 2003, which saw 80 per cent of festival screenings either reach or exceed capacity, festival organizers have worked aggressively to ensure accessibility for its audiences. The Festival Expansion Initiative was developed and launched in 2004, through which the festival was expanded from six to nine days. A plan was also developed at that time to establish Cinéfest as a year-round venue to showcase the best in film. In 2006, Cinéfest Sudbury introduced two new mini-festivals, Canadian Spotlight and Show & Tell Children's Film Showcase). These events are now providing audiences with even greater access to the works of Canadian film artists and are providing area schools with educational and inspirational film works that meet the needs of each curriculum.

Cinema Summit[edit]

In 2010, Cinéfest Sudbury introduced The Cinema Summit, a presentation, exchange and development series devoted to the celebration, promotion and advancement of Canada's new and emerging filmmaking talent. Aside from expanding the number of film screenings attended by talent associated with selected films, Cinema Summit features additional panel discussions, master classes and lectures with specific topics of focus, and introduces attendees to experts in the film and media arts industries. Cinema Summit represents Cinéfest's next efforts to inspire audiences, talent, students and industry.

Cinéfest Sudbury Film Series[edit]

In 2010, Cinéfest Sudbury further expanded its year-round presence by introducing the Cinéfest Sudbury Film Series, a monthly film presentation series typically held on the last Thursday of each month, featuring the best in Canadian and international cinema.

Cinéfest Collection[edit]

The Greater Sudbury Public Library maintains a dedicated "Cinéfest Collection", featuring DVDs of over 200 films that have previously screened at the festival.[6]























  • Audience Choice Award: Incendies, Denis Villeneuve
  • Best Canadian First Feature: Oliver Sherman, Ryan Redford[14]
  • Best Documentary: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie, Sturla Gunnarsson[14]
  • Best in Shorts – First place, open category: Bedtime Stories by Ben Brumueller[14]
  • Best in Shorts – Second place, open category: Freshwater Plague by Jake Chirico[14]
  • Best in Shorts – Third place, open category: The Appointment by Katrina Saville[14]
  • Best in Shorts – Student category: Singing in the Brain by J.P. Bouchardt[14]
  • Best in Shorts – Northern Flicks Award: Never Been Kissed by Gina Simon[14]
  • Best Animation Award: Bedtime Stories by Ben Brumueller[14]
  • CTV Best Script Award: The Appointment by Katrina Saville[14]

Gala presentations included Score: A Hockey Musical, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Casino Jack, Made in Dagenham, Jack Goes Boating, The Bang Bang Club and Barney's Version.


  • Audience Choice Award: Cloudburst, Thom Fitzgerald[15]
  • National Film Board of Canada Carolyn Fouriezos Best Canadian Documentary Award: The Guantanamo Trap, Thomas Wallner[15]
  • Best in Shorts – First place, open category: The Standoff by John Alden Milne[15]
  • Best in Shorts – First place, student category: Shoes! by Ryan Ongaro[15]
  • Best in Shorts – Second place, student category: Ad Noctvm by Josh Herd[15]
  • Best in Shorts – Third place, student category: Introspection by Sam Desrosiers[15]
  • Northern Flicks Award: Sugaring by Ryan Mariotti[15]
  • Best Animation Award: Private Snuffy by Ben Sainsbury[15]

Gala presentations: Restless, The Guard, I'm Yours, The Woman in the Fifth, Starbuck, Albert Nobbs, Donovan's Echo, Take This Waltz.

Special Presentations: Afghan Luke, Monsieur Lazhar, Sophie, Midnight in Paris, Sleeping Beauty.


  • Audience Choice Award: In Return, Chris Dymond[16]
  • Northern Flicks Award: Morning Zombies, Kevin Hoffman[16]
  • Best Animation Award: Reesor Siding, Paul Rodrigue[16]

Gala Presentations: The Riverbank, The Angels' Share, A Dark Truth, Midnight's Children, En Kongelig affære, Old Stock, Inch'Allah, Still Mine, A Late Quartet

Special Presentations: All in Good Time, Amour, Crooked Arrows, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, The Hunt (Jagten), Inescapable, Laurence Anyways, Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os), The Suicide Shop (Le Magasin des suicides), No, Revolution, Safety Not Guaranteed, Stories We Tell, War Witch (Rebelle)


Gala Presentations: The Art of the Steal, The Invisible Woman, Cubicle Warriors, Kill Your Darlings, The Story of Luke, Parkland, Gabrielle, The Right Kind of Wrong, Cas & Dylan

Special Presentations: Les 4 soldats, Adore, All Is Lost, The Armstrong Lie, Les beaux jours, The Face of Love, Gloria, La grande bellezza, Jeune & Jolie, Shoshite chichi ni naru, Louis Cyr: L'homme le plus fort du monde, The Lunchbox [Dabba], Le passé, La vie d'Adele (chapitres 1 et 2)



  • Audience Choice Award: Labyrinth of Lies by Giulio Ricciarelli[18]
  • Audience Choice Award Best Documentary: Meru by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi[18]
  • Audience Choice Award Best Short Film: Ron Taylor: Dr. Baseball by Drew Taylor and Matthew Taylor[18]
  • Best in Shorts, open category: Ordinary Miracle by Martin Smith[18]
  • Best in Shorts, open category runner-up: Down South by Shawn Kosmerly[18]
  • Best in Shorts, student category: Spree by Eric Harrison[18]
  • Best in Shorts, student category runner-up: The Maker by Alek Bélanger[18]
  • Best in Shorts Northern Flicks Award: Ordinary Miracle by Martin Smith[18]
  • Best in Shorts Innovation Award: Perceptions by Zahra Golafshani[18]


  • Audience Choice Award: Maudie by Aisling Walsh
  • Audience Choice Award Best Documentary: The Eagle Huntress by Otto Bell
  • Audience Choice Award Best Short Film: The Orchard by Darcy Van Poelgeest
  • Best in Shorts, open category: Camani by Dale Carrigan
  • Runner-up, Shorts, open category: Movin' On by Shawn Kosmerly
  • Best in Shorts, student category: This Is Fine by George Bull
  • Runner-up, Shorts, student category: Broken by Sheri Shweyer
  • Best in Shorts Northern Flicks Award: Camani by Dale Carrigan

Gala presentations: Maudie, Manchester by the Sea, Chocolat, Denial, The Headhunter's Calling, Toni Erdmann, Mean Dreams, I, Daniel Blake, The Dressmaker.[19]


Gala presentations: Back to Burgundy (Ce qui nous lie), Borg/McEnroe, Breathe, Call Me By Your Name, Don't Talk to Irene, Indian Horse, Long Time Running, Mary Shelley, Stronger.

  • Audience Choice Award: Loving Vincent by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman
  • Audience Choice Award Best Documentary: Everyday Heroes (Et les mistrals gagnants) by Anne-Dauphine Julliand
  • Audience Choice Award Best Short Film: Fix and Release by Scott Dobson
  • Best in Shorts, open category: Farewell Fire by Scott Armstrong
  • Runner-up, Shorts, open category: Future Sick by Aaron Martini
  • Best in Shorts, student category: Future Sick by Aaron Martini
  • Runner-up, Shorts, student category: Versa: This is Where We Disappear, Aaron Martini
  • Best in Shorts Northern Flicks Award: Farewell Fire by Scott Armstrong


Gala presentations: 1991, Bel Canto, Colette, The Grizzlies, The New Romantic, Sharkwater Extinction, The Sisters Brothers, Through Black Spruce, What They Had


Gala presentations: American Woman, And the Birds Rained Down (Il pleuvait des oiseaux), La Belle Époque, The Farewell, Guest of Honour, Judy, The Last Full Measure, The Rest of Us, The Song of Names[20]


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, organizers announced that the 2020 Cinéfest would proceed with a mix of in-person and online screenings, similarly to the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.[22]

Gala presentations for the festival were Ammonite, Girl, My Salinger Year, Nadia, Butterfly, The Nest, Nine Days, Percy and The Rose Maker (La fine fleur).


  1. ^ a b c d "Cinefest provides cultural landmark". Sudbury Star, September 16, 1999.
  2. ^ a b "Out of the slag heaps comes the anti-festival". Toronto Star, September 18, 1991.
  3. ^ "2018 Canadian Screen Awards: Eligible Festivals". Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television.
  4. ^ a b "Extra seats needed at Cinefest". The Globe and Mail, September 27, 1989.
  5. ^ "Canadian films in big demand on small-town movie circuit". Toronto Star, December 6, 1996.
  6. ^ "Sudbury's library has Cinefest collection". Sudbury Star, September 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Cinefest 90: Sudbury film festival ends second season". The Globe and Mail, September 24, 1990.
  8. ^ "The Adjuster tops at Sudbury fest". Toronto Star, September 24, 1991.
  9. ^ a b c "Canadian films take honors at Sudbury, Halifax filmfests". Montreal Gazette, September 28, 1992.
  10. ^ a b "It's a wrap for Sudbury Cinefest". Montreal Gazette, September 27, 1993.
  11. ^ "Another award for Egoyan film". Edmonton Journal, September 27, 1994.
  12. ^ "Exotica tops Sudbury festival". The Globe and Mail, September 27, 1994.
  13. ^ "Fans pick Columbine as best Cinefest film". Sudbury Star, September 27, 2002.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cinéfest announces award winners". Northern Life, September 28, 2010.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Cinéfest announces award winners". Northern Life, October 9, 2011.
  16. ^ a b c "In Return takes top honours at Cinéfest". Northern Life, September 25, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h "Cinéfest Sudbury hands out hardware". Northern Life. Laurentian Media Group. September 24, 2014. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Cinéfest Sudbury 2015 award winners announced". Northern Life, October 1, 2015.
  19. ^ "Cinéfest 2016: Film lovers' favourite week is finally here". Northern Life, September 14, 2016.
  20. ^ Heidi Ulrichsen, "'It's going to be a great year': Cinéfest releases full 2019 lineup"., August 21, 2019.
  21. ^ a b c d e f "Check out this year's Cinéfest award winners"., October 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "2020 Cinéfest will be ‘hybrid’ in-person, virtual festival"., June 26, 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Cinefest Sudbury announces its 2020 award winners". Sudbury Star, October 11, 2020.

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