SAULT STE. MARIE -- Sault Ste. Marie has a new annual film festival and despite the ongoing pandemic, organizers say the show must go on.

Sault Film Festival, headed by the team of Rebeka Herron and Sault Ste. Marie native Trish Rainone, will be adjusted to meet COVID-19 restrictions, including offering screenings virtually and in-person.

"It's kind of the new way of the world, everything is on Zoom or Facebook live now, so we're kind of figuring it out and have been over the last few months," Rainone said.

The pair began their own production company in Sault Ste. Marie last year, which is where the idea for the festival was born.

Rainone said it's important for her to give northern filmmakers an opportunity to shine - something she said she didn't quite have while growing up.

"There wasn't much of a film community at all," she said. "So it's really great to see that if someone wants to work in film, it's a real, tangible career for them and they can stay in the north."

The festival will incorporate content exclusively from creators based in northern Ontario, including student films and professional ones.

Right now, Herron said they're still in the selection process.

"I had experience working on smaller projects in the past," she said. "I had a lot of fun getting filmmakers together and networking and seeing a lot of partnerships happen afterwards and I thought, what a better way than to do that up here."

Herron said since moving to Sault Ste. Marie, she's seen interest in the film industry grow.

With this festival, the hope is to speed up that process.

"We want to bring northern Ontario filmmakers, creatives and talent together, to kind of build up the industry," Herron said.

The pair has yet to decide on a venue for the in-person viewings.

The festival will take place from Nov. 27 -  29.

Other northern Ontario film festivals

Sault Ste. Marie also has the annual Shadows of the Mind Film Festival, which focuses on various current social topics such as mental health and addiction issues. Earlier this year, before the pandemic began, this festival celebrated its 22nd year.

Northern Frights Festival in North Bay Oct 28 – 31 features horror films for a sixth year.

North Bay Film Festival Nov. 13 – 15.

Cinefest Sudbury International Film Festival had its 32nd annual event in September.