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SWIFF - Sarnia’s Own Arts and Culture Festival

theatre audience

Ravi Srinivasan watches 400 movies a year—and he gets paid to do it!

Srinivasan, Executive Director of the South Western International Film Festival (SWIFF) works as a programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). “I watched 250 films for TIFF and 150 for Hot Docs,” he said. He also enjoyed interviewing Helen Mirren, Halle Berry and Helena Bonham Carter on TIFF’S red carpet. He has attended film festivals at Cannes, Berlin and Vancouver.

Ravi, 31, attended Sarnia’s St. Patrick’s High School, studied Film Theory and English Literature at Wilfred Laurier, and Advanced Television and Film Production at Sheridan. “I’ve watched serious films from a very young age,” he said.

The main venue for SWIFF2017 is the Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia on the weekend of November 2 to 5. It features 15 films, 2 concerts, an opening night reception at Memorable Moments, a virtual reality exhibition and 3 media workshops at the Alix Art Gallery. Film enthusiasts are encouraged to buy VIP passes ($129) or SWIFF All Access Passes ($79). Classes of high school students may attend free at the kick-off school event 9am-2pm on November 2.

Opening night will feature Oscar winning director Catherine Bigelow’s new film “Detroit” starring John Boyega, which is set in Detroit’s 1967 summer of civil unrest and riots. International fare will include Sweden’s Palme d’Or winning satire, “The Square,” starring Elizabeth Moss. “City of Ghosts” is a documentary about courageous Syrian media activists who expose the atrocities of ISIS. Canadian content includes “Birth of a Family,” a moving documentary about the reunion of four aboriginal siblings who had been adopted out to separate families across North America during the ‘sixties scoop.’ Srinivasan’s personal favourite at TIFF, “The Florida Project,” starring Willem Dafoe, explores impoverished families living in motels. “It is stylistically impressive showing young people dealing with adult things,” he said. Award-winning Spanish documentary, “La Chana,” is a tribute to a legendary flamenco dancer. Many more films await your discovery.

Celebrity chef, Paresh Thakkar will host a personal catered dinner at MIXX Lounge on Saturday night following the screening of “New Chefs on the Block” and a Q&A with director, Dustin Harrison-Atlas. The film and dinner package (only 20 tickets for dinner) are available at the Imperial box office.
A special Midnight Madness film event will happen at The Story on Saturday night.

The three workshops include Online Writing for Women, Composing Music for Film and Documentary Filmmaking. These workshops are free for students and $99 for adults.

The Virtual Reality Exhibition celebrates a new form of storytelling/art, simulating the experience of entering unfamiliar landscapes; filmmakers around the globe create it using game development software. This event is on Friday, 6-9 pm and Saturday/Sunday 11am – 4pm.

CineGAZE is SWIFF’s concert event featuring an exciting line-up of both local talent and bands from Canada and beyond. Soundless films provide a juxtaposed backdrop to the musical performances. A 2-day pass (Friday and Saturday) costs $40.00, or $25.00 per night.

Srinivasan believes that Sarnia has a thirst for arts and culture. “Every big city has a film festival and it’s a great weekend to see the world and catch up on films,” he said. “The films bring a diverse perspective on race, gender and social issues to start important discussions.” SWIFF also attracts tourism, which helps showcase Sarnia-Lambton. In 2016, 5000 visitors attended. With the help of many generous sponsors, planning for SWIFF goes on all year round.  

Visit www.swiff.ca for more information.

Your SWIFFer week-end promises to be a clean sweep!

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