'The Masked Saint' produced by Sudbury's David Anselmo
He said he's equally thrilled Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, which is in its 26th year, is around to help him showcase his work in the city he calls home.
The Masked Saint, filmed in Sault Ste. Marie last year, is the Wednesday night gala presentation at this year's festival.
“Cinéfest is one of the most important organizations in Northern Ontario when it comes to this industry,” said Anselmo, the film's co-producer, speaking at a July 23 press conference where part of Cinéfest's lineup was announced.
“They are the bridge between filmmakers such as myself and the audiences.”
The movie revolves around the life of Chris Samuels, a professional wrestler and family man who realizes he needs something more.
His calling to become a pastor prompts him to retire from wrestling and move with his wife and daughter to a small town.
When Samuels stumbles onto a fight on the seedy side of town, his wrestling skills take down the assailant, and a masked vigilante is born.
The movie, by up-and-coming Toronto director Warren P. Sonoda, stars Brett Granstaff as Samuels. Real-life 1980s WWF wrestler Roddy Piper also appears in the movie, along with actor Patrick McKenna, who many will recognize from his time on the Red Green Show and on TVO's Hard Rock Medical.
“The Masked Saint is something we've never done before, at least not since I've been here,” said Cinéfest managing director Patrick O'Hearn.
“It's a faith-based film that is going to reach a new audience for us. We know that we have a number of our loyal, hardcore fans that come to Cinéfest who have been craving a faith-based experience during the festival. With it having a Northern Ontario connection as well, it's a great opportunity.”
Although The Masked Saint was the only gala film announced by Cinéfest on July 23, festival organizers did release part of the rest of the festival's lineup.
One of the films being screened in the Canadian documentaries category is Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein's An Honest Liar, about world-famous magician, escape artist and world-renowned enemy of deception, James “The Amazing” Randi.
Shot in the North Bay area, Adam MacDonald's Backcountry is part of the festival's Canadian film lineup. The film is about a couple who get lost in the bush.
Star Trek fans are sure to enjoy one of the offerings in the World Documentaries category.
American filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot's documentary To Be Takei digs into the life of Star Trek actor George Takei, who spent his early life in a Japanese-American internment camp, and is now a gay activist and Internet sensation.
In the World Cinema category, Jonathan Taieb's Stand is one of Cinéfest's selections.
The France-Russia-Ukraine shot film tells the story of a young gay couple in Russia who believe they've witnessed a homophobic crime, and seek out the perpetrators when they feel the police haven't done enough.
O'Hearn said Cinéfest organizers had a hard time choosing this year's lineup because there were so many good films to choose from.
“It's been a great year in terms of submissions, and we're looking forward to it for sure,” he said.
For cinephiles who just can't wait for September, Cinéfest — in conjunction with the Northern Ontario Film Studios (NOFS) — is planning an evening of outdoor film screenings Aug. 15.
Be My Valentine, being screened in the NOFS parking lot (828 Beatrice Cres.) at 9 p.m., and A Little Bit Zombie, which runs at 11:15 p.m., were both shot in Sudbury.
“It's truly a Northern Ontario experience to be able to watch a movie under the stars that was made in your hometown,” said Anselmo, also the CEO of NOFS.
“We just really wanted to say thank you to the community for making Sudbury such a film-friendly town.”
Tickets to the festival — which range in price from $13.50 for “rush” tickets to $375 for a passport plus — are available by phone at 705-688-1234, online at Cinefest.com or in person at Cinéfest's office, 40 Larch St., Unit 103.
For a full listing of the Cinéfest films released so far, visit www.cinefest.com.