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Cinéfest says films are best screened in person

This is the final weekend of Cinéfest Sudbury's International Film Festival.

Over the past 35 years, the event has grown immensely but faced challenges during the pandemic.

Patrick O'Hearn told CTV News that he started as an intern at Cinéfest 20 years ago and is now the executive director of the film festival.

He said this year there were no virtual film viewings as the festival returns to its roots following a cultural end to Covid-19 protocols.

"The virtual component kept us together and you know we were glad we were able to do that over the last few years but films really should be experienced in person,” said O’Hearn.

“So having these audiences – we had four theatres packed for the Boy in the Woods yesterday. You know it just reminds us of the impact festivals can have on communities and the industry at large."

Officials with Cinéfest said volunteers play a critical role in the success of the festival with more than 130 people helping out this year.

“We are trying to give them a great experience and a wonderful time so that they can walk away with a feeling of that they can share that experience with everybody else they come in contact with," said Anthony Nootchtai, the film festival’s volunteer coordinator.

Andy McClellan has been volunteering at Cinéfest for 25 years and told CTV News that he enjoys seeing and helping new and repeat filmgoers.

"The people come back to Cinéfest year after year after year too so we get a chance to develop a friendly relationship and recognize each other every year when they come back and oh it's so nice to see," said McClellan.

Organizers said they hope next year even more people choose to come back to watch in person.

"Prior to the pandemic, we were about 34,000. It's going to take us a couple of years to kind of grow back and get back to that point,” said O’Hearn.

“We want to be exceeding that as quickly as possible. You know we have always had great growth of the festival year over year."

Cinéfest is celebrating 35 years in 2023 and next year officials say they hope to add bus tours from other communities around Ontario to next year's event.

The 35th edition will wrap up Sunday with a gala presentation of the film Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person. Top Stories

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