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Film fans rejoice, the Gateway Film Fest is launching

New film festival hits the Capitol Centre’s big screen March 24 to 26

Prepare for cinematic overload, because the Gateway International Film Festival is launching at the Capitol Centre from March 24 to 26. Festival founder David Briggs promises three days of the world’s greatest films. All genres will be exhibited, from comedy to kung fu, from horror to documentary to the experimental.

The festival has feature films and short films, which are put together into feature-length programs. Most of the films are currently making the rounds on the festival circuit, and for many films, this event marks their theatrical premiere.

“The purpose of the festival is to celebrate and highlight independent film,” Briggs explained. “We strive to showcase unique voices, and we’re proud to offer so many stories from around the world and from our own backyard.”

“If you’re a supporter of local art and culture, you’ll want to stop by,” Briggs noted, as part of the festival’s goal is to bring together local filmmakers, artists, actors, and members of the creative industry “to get together at a cool event and make some connections.”

Indeed, “highlighting and inspiring” local filmmakers is one of the foundations the fest is built on. “We’re always looking for local productions and filmmakers to feature in the fest, and this year we’re really looking forward to sharing them with you.”

This includes the Canadian premiere of the feature film Unfriending—“a dark comedy of bad manners”—directed by Brett and Jason Butler. The brothers have strong roots in North Bay, and shot their last feature film in town as well. Both will be coming up for the big premiere, and word is, most of the cast will be there as well.

Brendan Burke was raised in the Bay and is currently based in New York. His new film The Late Set is included in the lineup, and on Sunday at 1:00, there is a filmmaker’s roundtable that includes Northern filmmakers. Jayson Stewart of Laps in Judgment Studios will be there, as will Stefan Phillips—who directed The Pasta Killer, a true North Bay production—plus some other guests.

On Saturday afternoon at 3:00, brace yourself for Enter the Drag Dragon, the “world’s first drag-fu action-horror-comedy.” This one is guaranteed to please, and Ottawa director Lee Demarbre will be in the house to present the film in person. “Demarbre is a legend of Canadian independent cinema,” Briggs  emphasized, known for such hits as Smash Cut (2009) and Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001).

Although this is the first year for the film festival, this isn’t Briggs’ first rodeo. Through his production company, Distant Field Productions, he founded the Northern Frights Festival which ran for seven years, and the Deep Cut Film Festival which ran for six.

“It was time to meld those two into one,” Briggs said, “time to create a brand-new festival special to North Bay. Hence the name. I figured that would resonate with everyone here.”

A film-loving selection committee was put together last fall to help program the festival. It included filmmaker Dylan Mask, actor Lea Griffin, director Tamara Cook, and Elyssa Erhardt, an actor and producer currently in Kitchener. Tiffany Blom rounded out the committee, and she also helped program the last Northern Frights Festival.

“This year’s lineup is incredible,” Blom noted. “It’s amazing that a first-year festival could attract such top international talent. This is going to be one to remember.”

There will be 10 feature films screened and 39 short films over the weekend, on two screens. To add to the cinematic extravaganza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights (1997) will screen on Saturday night, and on Sunday, you won’t want to miss the 1985 cult classic The Last Dragon.

Tickets are on sale at the Capitol Centre’s box office and range from $7 to $12 for a single ticket. There are two screening rooms at the Capitol Centre—the Betty Speers Theatre and the Co-Operators Spotlight Lounge. All shows at the Spotlight Lounge are $7 and all shows at the Betty Speers are $10.

Tickets to Boogie Nights and the Last Dragon will be $12. Weekend passes are the best deal at $35 for a full access ticket to all shows. Students and Capitol Centre Members can gain full access for $25. Tickets can be purchased as the Capitol Centre's box office, or through the Capitol Centre's website. 

For all the details, visit the festival’s website at