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Mighty Niagara Film Fest kicks off with ‘meaningful’ documentary

Film chronicles life of Jean Augustine,
from Grenada to Parliament Hill

Thurs 17 Aug 2023 | 7PM
The Film House
FirstOntario PAC

$9.50 – General admission
$7.50 – Film House members

Tickets available here

The Mighty Niagara Film Festival is kicking off this week in a big way with a film detailing the journey of Jean Augustine, from humble roots in Grenada to becoming a trailblazer in Canada’s House of Commons.

The festival, in partnership with Future Black Female, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, Brock University and Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre, will screen the film “Steadfast – The Messenger and the Message” on Thursday, Aug. 17, at the Film House, located in the PAC.

Augustine was a Liberal MP from 1993 to 2006 and the first Black woman to serve as a cabinet minister. Following her departure from federal politics, she served as the first fairness commissioner in Ontario until 2015.

“It’s meaningful to everyone in the community, especially to those organizations that work in Black and female advocacy,” said Kasia Smuga, a film programmer for the festival. “It has gotten some great and welcoming reviews in Toronto and elsewhere.”

The film was produced and directed by Canadian filmmaker Fahim Hamid Ali, known for works exploring the Canadian experience.

The screening will feature a virtual Q&A with Augustine immediately after the film and is hosted by Future Black Female, an organization that empowers Black girls and women through networking, skills development and rights-based advocacy.

The Mighty Film Festival runs through Aug. 19 at venues throughout Niagara, showcasing works focused on films made about or in Niagara and by filmmakers with connections to the region. “Steadfast” has a Niagara connection with Suitcase in Point Arts mentorship director Sodienye Waboso Amajor, who has a role as a friend of Augustine in the film.

New this year, Landmark Cinemas at The Pen Centre has come on board and will host several screenings.

Highlights of this year’s festival include an evening of re-cut classic spaghetti westerns screened with a live score performed by The Sadies, a spotlight on Governor General Award-winning experimental filmmaker Bruce Elder and site-specific media installations by emerging artist Avery Mikolic-O’Rourke. Other events include a wine, food and film trifecta in the vineyards at Stratus Vineyards winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a drag-themed evening of film on NAC’s rooftop terrace and a takeover of the Skyway Drive-In.

Launched in 2021, the festival has embraced the diversity of contemporary Niagara filmmaking and delved into intriguing titles from Niagara’s film history.

To see a full schedule or to purchase tickets for the festival, visit