Regent Theatre wins major grant to launch first ever County film festival

A COMING ATTRACTION TO HISTORIC REGENT THEATRE-County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Regent Theatre’s Alexandra Seay, ROC Youth Service’s Darlene Thompson and Neil Lumsden, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport were at the Regent Wednesday to announce the latest round of Ontario Trillium Foundation grant funding. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)



The Regent Theatre Foundation has won a major grant to launch a Prince Edward County film festival to run at the end of every September, beginning in 2024.

Neil Lumsden, Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, announced an Ontario Trillium Foundation Resilient Communities grant of $200,000 over two years to help the Regent get things started on August 2.

“This fund will enable the Regent to deliver a unique film festival experience,” said the Regent’s delighted Executive Director, Alexandra Seay. The winning proposal is for “a unique festival dedicated to screenwriters and the art of adaptation.”

“We want to celebrate the writers who create the films we watch. We want to focus on how screenwriters take the great variety of materials presented to them—an original story, a famous novel, a piece of music, dance, or artwork, even a meal or an experience in nature—and adapt it into the film that we see.”

She noted that no other film festival in the world focuses on adaptation with such a broad mandate.

“The focus on adapted content gives the Festival both a niche and a long programming runway, one that extends from gala screenings to curated conversations to concerts, master classes, farm-to-table meals, and more.”

The festival will not only screen films, but create thematic tie-ins with with artistic, literary, culinary, agricultural, and viticultural groups across the county, inspiring conversations with creators, talks with local arts figures, and discussion groups hosted at the many county venues so amenable to social and intellectual exchange, from wineries to the lecture halls at Base31.

Sol Korngold, General Manager of the Royal Hotel, is a project partner. Both Mr. Korngold and Ms. Seay hope the annual event will not only attract more community partners, but reinforce the idea of the county as a rich cultural destination, drawing visitors from across Ontario, Canada, and the world — as well as from around the corner.

As Mr. Korngold put it, “I can’t think of anything better than having a film festival across the street from the Royal Hotel.”

At a press conference hosted by Mayor Steve Ferguson, both MPP Todd Smith and Minister Lumsden underscored the importance of culture in creating and sustaining the sense of community.

Both congratulated the Ms. Seay, not only for bringing the Regent through the pandemic but spearheading a major restoration and revitalization at the same time. Minister Lumsden noted the “leadership on both sides” of the grant, and anticipated a great impact on the community.

“We rely on people to bring great ideas to life,” he said. “Ms. Seay is one of those people, and so is the Regent Theatre, which helps to weave culture into everything we do.”

Ms. Seay hopes that the film festival becomes a “signature event,” not only inviting others to experience the county, but enabling the county to express itself as a seat of rich creativity. Along with Minister Lumsden, she stressed that “people make programming.”

The new film festival is still seeking a name. If you have a good idea, contact the Regent.

A preview event is promised this September 29th at 7 p.m., details to be announced soon.