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Shellbrook to host Saskatchewan filmfest opening gala

A special screening of Blind Ambition, last year's Best Short Film winner, will be held on opening day.
SIFF president Joyce Malayba delivers her closing remarks in last year's inaugural Saskatchewan International Film Festival.

SASKATOON — The second Saskatchewan International Film Festival returns Saturday, Nov. 26, with the town of Shellbrook hosting the opening gala at the newly renovated Shellbrook Theatre.

Shellbrook is a rural community about 45 kilometres west of Prince Albert and a 90-minute drive north of Saskatoon. It is also the town where current Premier Scott Moe grew up and represents the Rosthern-Shellbrook electoral district in the legislative assembly.

SIFF president Joyce Malayba said it was their original plan to move the annual event around the province, allowing other cities and towns to host the festival. The inaugural festival was held in Saskatoon.

“We planned to create awareness about our province. We thought the best way would be to bring the festival to the different towns and cities that comprise our province,” Malayba told SASKTODAY.

She added that Shellbrook Mayor Amund Otterson reached out to them and offered to host the opening gala and the screenings of the 20 films at the 300-seat Shellbrook Theatre. Shellbrook also holds a special place for her and her husband, Renato.

“It wasn't a difficult decision to make. A Shellbrook resident, the late George Harrison, was instrumental in deciding which province to settle in when we migrated to Canada 11 years ago,” said Malayba.

“We've seen the community spirit and work they do for their town. Initially, the plan was to hold just the opening gala in Shellbrook, and then the film screenings and awards night in Saskatoon.”

Having the film screenings at the Shellbrook Theatre from Nov. 27 to 30 is also their way of giving back to the same community that welcomed them and became their first home since moving to Saskatchewan more than a decade ago.

“When we learned from Mayor Otterson that there is a longstanding project to construct a bigger community pool. We decided to have all the film screenings in Shellbrook. The film screening proceeds will go towards Shellbrook's community pool project, while food sales will go towards the maintenance of the Shellbrook Theatre,” said Malayba.

Humboldt Mayor Michael Behiel and Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne will join Premier Moe and Sh Otterson as provincial officials who have confirmed attending the opening gala.

Moviegoers can cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award, where they support the SIFF’s community project for Shellbrook and the filmmakers who joined this year’s film festival.

Some of this season's finalists will also be attending the event, while Frederick Kroetsch and Tom Robinson, co-directors of last year’s Best Short Film winner Blind Ambition, will be at the opening gala to receive their award.

A special screening of Blind Ambition will open the filmfest at 2 p.m. The other featured movies are Divorcee at Large, Wicked Plans, The Ace and the Scout, Everyone Needs an Army, The Ice Walk, Identibye, Broken Blooms, The Golden Age, The Voice that is Never Heard, Goodnight Bella, Trapper Radio Series, Grace, This s Christmas, Lil Bufloo Aen Loo Kishkishiw, The Dental Plan, Feeling Fine, A Woman's Voice, Time Switch Aveiro and Send Off. 

Traction Uranium Corp. and Sendwave are the co-presenters of the second edition of the film festival.

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