Now Playing at the Cape Breton Multiplex

Nearly 100 years after the Maritime Motion Picture Company (MMPC) was making movies in Sydney, local filmmakers are achieving great success.

Locally shot with homegrown actors, Werewolf (Grassfire Films: Nelson MacDonald, producer, Ashley McKenzie, director) was shown at many film festivals, featured in numerous reviews, including the Globe and Mail and the New Yorker, and received numerous accolades and awards including best director, best actor (Andrew MacDonald) and best actress (Bhreagh MacNeil) at the Atlantic Film Festival. It was nominated in many categories for the Canadian Screen Awards, made the TIFF top ten list for 2016, was theatrically released in 2017 and subsequently won the $100,000 prize for Best Canadian film from The Toronto Film Critics Association.

Posters for "Werewolf," "The Child Remains," "My Bloody Valentine," "The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger"

Director Michael Melski had a horror hit on his hands with The Child Remains, inspired by the notorious butterbox babies story from years ago. In 2017, it screened at 18 Festivals, winning 15 Awards including seven Best Feature prizes, four Best Actress nods for Suzanne Clément, and 10 other nominations. It’s been translated into four languages and shown on four continents. In early 2018, it won the Audience Award at the Oporto International Film Festival (Portugal) and Best Science Fiction Feature at the Phillip K Dick Science Fiction Film Festival in New York City.

Two other horror films have come out of Cape Breton over the years, My Bloody Valentine shot in a Sydney Mines coal mine forty years ago and the underground cult classic, The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger.



Other productions that came out of Cape Breton include the 1997 TV movie and subsequent two-season television show Pit Pony, originally based on the Joyce Barkhouse novel of the same name. Many of the TV episodes were directed by Mike Clattenburg, later of Trailer Park Boys fame. Most of the cast were from Cape Breton or the mainland.

The 1970s film, Goin’ Down the Road, though mostly shot in Toronto, told the classic road story of two Cape Breton lads seeking their fortune far from home. A sequel, Down the Road Again, was made a few years ago using some of the same actors.

Posters for "Pit Pony," "Goin' Down the Road," New Waterford Girl," "Candy Mountain"


Released in 1999,New Waterford Girl starred Liane Balaban as Agnes-Marie “Mooney” Pottie, a teenager dreaming of life beyond her small-town home. Written by Trisha Fish and directed by Alan Moyle, it became a commercial success and put New Waterford on the cinematic map. Balaban has gone on to act in the various NCIS TV series and eight seasons of Supernatural, since her debut as a New Waterford girl.

Candy Mountain is probably the quirkiest, partially Cape Breton-made film, about a man on a quest to find an elusive luthier. Directed by legendary photographer Robert Frank, who spent his summers in Cape Breton, it starred among others, Joe Strummer of The Clash, Leon Redbone, Rita MacNeil and the inimitable Tom Waits.

Other notable films with Cape Breton connections include The Bay Boy, Margaret’s Museum, and Marion Bridge. Chris Bellemore in goCapeBreton puts the number of Cape Breton connected films at 21. Here’s hoping for more in the coming years.


Paul MacDougall


Paul MacDougall’s first movie without his folks was 2001, A Space Odyssey in 1968. He went with his late friend Billy MacNeil and neither understood it. He still goes to the movie theater and, over time, has come to appreciate Stanley Kubrick.