Pandemic cuts outdoor film screenings

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Summer Shadows will stay in the dark this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The offshoot of Shadows of the Mind Film Festival screens free family-friendly fare at Bellevue Park the last three weeks of August.

Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening during the pandemic allows for outdoor events attended by up to 100 people. But festival co-director Bill MacPherson says Summer Shadows always draws more than that number and enforcing maximum attendance would be difficult for volunteers.

The festival’s board decided about three weeks ago suspending the screenings for this year “was in everybody’s best interest.

We felt bad,” MacPherson told The Sault Star. “We’re all about bringing families together and here we are making sure they stay apart.”

His group consulted with City of Sault Ste. Marie about its plans not to show movies this summer. The municipality, said MacPherson, agreed “it probably would be advisable not to carry on this year.”


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Showings would have started Wednesday. The Incredibles 2, Toy Story 4 and Call of the Wild were lineup possibilities.

Tentative plans” were being made for movies to be shown drive-in style at a Sault Ste. Marie car dealership in June, but that idea was also spiked.

There was risks involved in that,” said MacPherson.

Several comments on Shadows of the Mind Film Festival’s Facebook page supported the call not to screen films this year.

Disappointed, but definitely the right decision,” said Christine Thomson.

Sad to hear, but understandable,” said Melinda Sagle.

Summer Shadows started in 2005 at Sault Ste. Marie Public Library’s main branch. The film series moved to Bellevue Park in 2008.

Summer Shadows joins other events usually held in June, July and August, including Rotaryfest, Queen Street Cruise and the International Bridge Walk, that have been cancelled this year because of the public health crisis.

On Twitter: @Saultreporter