Devil, Arithmetic bookend Cinéfest

Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival organizers have culled 3,362 submissions down to a hearty slate of 130 — and will screen festival circuit hot tickets including Shake Hands with the Devil and Emotional Arithmetic alongside the micro-budget dramedy Half a Person and others when it returns next month to the Nickel City.

Shake Hands, adapted from the book by Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire, will open the festival on Sept. 15, shortly after its debut at TIFF. Emotional Arithmetic, a powerful story of Second World War interment camp survivors reconnecting and discovering their bonds, will close the festival. Directed by Paolo Barzman and shot in Montreal, it stars Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Susan Sarandon and Christopher Plummer.

‘[Cinéfest] is very much a regional festival, but we’re lucky enough to bring in international and Canadian programming,’ says Tammy Frick, the festival’s director for the past 11 years. ‘We saw some very strong Canadian films from English Canada this year. Because we have a strong francophone population we keep an eye out for French film, but this year I’m not seeing the numbers of Quebec productions. This year it was a little light, but overall French copros and productions from France were still strong.’

But, she adds, ‘We want to make sure we’re showing people our own [northern] products as well.’

First-time writer/director Adam Santangelo’s Half a Person, about two best friends who travel from Sudbury to Toronto only to realize their friendship is disintegrating, will screen as part of the festival’s Northern Connections program. Introduced three years ago, the program helps nurture the northern film industry.

‘I think people will really connect with the idea of how people can outgrow each other; how friendships can turn unhealthy and you can both love and hate someone at the same time,’ Santangelo tells Playback Daily.

Completely self-funded, Half a Person was produced on a budget of $10,000. The dramedy shot for three weeks around Toronto, moving to Sudbury four months later to wrap the local footage over a weekend.

‘This is my first time going through this [festival] process… and I’m excited to see the screening, to see what comes of it. I’m looking to see that we represented the area well,’ says Santangelo.

The CTV Videomakers Competition enters its 11th season this year and Frick says the contest continues to gain speed.

CTV ‘gave us $10,000 per year to hand out to amateur filmmakers in northern Ontario,’ says Frick. ‘We do a public screening of the 10 finalists and it is judged right there, live. Any given year we get anywhere from 60 to 100 submissions.’

Cinéfest Sudbury runs Sept. 15-23. The full program will be available Aug. 30 at