The Grand River Film Festival celebrates 12 years with a new spring line-up


The 4-day festival includes Canadian premieres, directorial debuts and stories with social impact

Friday, April 26, 2019, WATERLOO REGION, ON – The Grand River Film Festival (GRFF), Waterloo Region’s longest running film festival, is set to open its 12 th season with an exciting new spring date, screening at venues across Waterloo Region May 8 – 11, 2019. Offering a diverse collection of compelling stories and unique experiences, including the directorial debut of TRUE BLOOD’s Stephen Moyer and a screening of the highly touted Inuit lacrosse film THE GRIZZLIES, the grassroots festival brings arts and culture to life in a dynamic way.

The 12th season continues the festival’s notable programming, pairing screenings with director Q&A’s, local interest group panels, and outstanding guest speakers. GRFF recognizes the power of film to connect people and is thrilled to act as a vehicle for the community to build relationships and host meaningful conversations within the Waterloo Region.

“This season’s films are an exciting cross section of the struggles and triumphs of life,” said Michael Clark, Chair of Festival Programming. “Each will stay with you long after you leave the theatre.”

Highlights for GRFF 2019 include:

Two Canadian premieres with THE PARTING GLASS and BE NATURAL, both hosting a post-screening talk with the film’s directors.

● Known for his riveting role as Bill Compton in the hit series TRUE BLOOD, Stephen Moyer’s directorial film debut THE PARTING GLASS will screen with producer Cerise Larkin attending for a Q&A. Written by colleague Denis O’Hare, based on his own story of loss, THE PARTING GLASS is a meditation on family and mortality, and for the film’s director Moyer, “it is a story about life; and how experiences like these shape our future life and the way we live it”. ● BE NATURAL is the incredible unknown story of film pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) who wrote, produced or directed 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronized sound during the ‘silent’ era. Her work included comedies, westerns and dramas, as well as films with groundbreaking subject matter such as child abuse, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and female empowerment. Director Pamela B. Green will join the screening via Skype along with guest speakers Dr. Katherine Spring Wilfrid Laurier University Film Studies and Dr. Charlie Keil University of Toronto Film Studies.

Embracing the power film can have to explore difficult topics, THE PUBLIC, GOALIE and THE GRIZZLIES will feature powerful discussions with visiting guest speakers.

● THE PUBLIC , directed by Emilio Estevez, is a commentary on the role public libraries play for our homeless population as both a daytime shelter and safe space, but also providing free access to communicate and network through library resources. Mary Chevreau, CEO of Kitchener Public Library and Suzi Gersoy, Chair of All In 2020 will speak after the film about the issues and initiatives underway to address homelessness in our region.

● The life of a professional athlete is one of passion, dedication and sacrifice regardless of the sport. But there is something very different about the role of a goaltender. GOALIE , the story of legendary Terry Sawchuk who is considered the world’s greatest goaltender, will be followed by a talk with acclaimed historian Kevin Shay, award-winning author of 17 hockey books and editor of publications and features for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Justin Brooks, Director of Athletic Development and DEPTH Partner.

● The Canadian film THE GRIZZLIES has been racking up audience awards at festivals internationally and for good reason. While on the surface it may seem like another sport movie, THE GRIZZLIES is so much more. The characters in this film are based on real people, but they also represent every child across North America who is struggling with structurally-imposed barriers and inter-generational trauma—and show that there is always a way to stay in the game, overcome obstacles and gain confidence despite steep odds. Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee and Director of Iroquois Lacrosse Cam Bomberry will talk about the role sport can play in transforming individuals and communities.

Regional sneak peaks of STARFISH and BOOKSMART feature directorial debuts by A.T. White and Olivia Wilde respectively, and provide focus and perspectives from traditionally underrepresented groups.

● Written, directed and scored by A. T. White, primarily a musician by trade, STARFISH is a beautiful sci-fi that explores grief and loss, healing and regret, through Aubrey, a woman alone in the world with only the power of music to save her.

● Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, BOOKSMART is an unfiltered comedy about high school friendships and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation, a reminder to all of us that you come-of-age when you open-up and allow your light to shine, and when you let others do the same.

The festival lineup rounds out with the fascinating documentary CHEF FLYNN , a uniquely comprehensive portrait of a one-of-a-kind childhood and a young star’s rise as seen from the inside, about teen phenom and award-winning chef Flynn McGarry.

“We are certain this year’s festival will provide an opportunity for everyone to express their love of film,” said Paul Tortolo, Chair of the Board of Directors. “GRFF is unique in that there truly is a film for everyone. And at $15 a ticket, you don’t have to break the bank for a memorable night out.”

For a complete schedule, access to trailers and to purchase tickets, please visit


About GRFF

Founded in 2007, the Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) is committed to celebrate and inspire community through the shared experience of film. Featuring compelling documentaries, engaging shorts and premiere features, GRFF presents an integrated cultural experience. The festival encourages community involvement through a shared love for cinema by offering unique and diverse programming with creative community partnerships. The festival takes place each spring at venues throughout Waterloo Region.

To book interviews or for more information, please contact:

Tamara Louks Email: Cell: 519-239-0710