A guide to film in St. Catharines

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While a lot of people can agree over action-packed blockbusters, jump scare horror films, and comedies with star-studded ensemble casts, typical mainstream cinema can get a little tiresome after a while. Independent films across the world are rich in diversity and creativity, but it’s not very often that Sundance’s best wind up in your local cinema alongside the latest superhero movie. Throughout St. Catharines, however, efforts have been made over many years to change this and bring a full scope of the film industry to the city. St. Catharines is home to both the Film House and Brock University Film Series, two organizations determined to bring unique film experiences to the general public. While I can’t say what surprises they have in store for the entire year, here’s a short guide on what to expect.

The Film House on St. Paul Street is the perfect place to catch unique, cult-classic and critically acclaimed films that you may not have otherwise heard of. Aiming to showcase the larger world of cinema, the Film House offers much more than your typical popcorn summer blockbuster. In the next two months alone, the Film House is offering a great selection of independent movies some cities around Ontario won’t even see. Some exciting examples include Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, the Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, and dark comedy Sorry to Bother You, all of which have had limited releases to theatres despite rave reviews from critics.

Furthermore, throughout  September, The Film House and the Weengushk Film Institute have partnered up to present the ‘Celebration of Nations’ short film series. Seven short films will be playing between Sept. 7 and 9, two of which are to be followed up with question and answer periods. On Sept. 30, imagineNATIVE, the world’s biggest platform for Indigenous film and video content, will be bringing their Journal to Turtle Island shorts program, consisting of six short films, to the Film House.

At the end of October, the Film House is bringing classics back to the cinema to celebrate Halloween. October 27 sees a late night screening of The Silence of the Lambs. On top of that, you can vote online for which of three camp horrors will also be screened: Wrong Turn, Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments and Deadly Eyes, the winner of which will be shown on Oct. 31.

Brock also offers the Brock University Film Series (BUFS), which plucks international and independent films out of festivals and showcases them at the Landmark Theatre. Although the lineup for the upcoming school year has yet to be announced, expect a wide variety of film with something for everyone — BUFS offers everything from intriguing documentaries to light-hearted comedies. In recent years, the series has offered a number of award winning films you wouldn’t catch anywhere else outside of a festival, such as Oscar nominees Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name. Last year, one night was dedicated to live action Oscar shorts prior to the actual award show, so film buffs would be aware of the competitors once the winner was announced. Occasionally, BUFS gives in-depth looks at the films through the lens of those involved by way of pairing films with post-movie discussions and question and answer periods. For anyone interested in what goes into a film or the people behind them, this is something to keep an eye out for once the lineup is released. Tickets are $5 for Brock students, or $10 otherwise. BUFS also offers a number of passes that earn access to multiple films on the roster are available as well.

Whether you’re a film enthusiast looking for something new, or you happen to have a night to spare, both the Film House and the Brock University Film Series offer new and accessible independent cinema; you’re sure to discover something amazing there.

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