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STARFest announces fall lineup

The 2021 season features a star-studded lineup with hometown literary and film icon Anne Wheeler. Some events are even being scheduled with authors making in-person appearances.

The table of contents for this year’s St. Albert Readers Festival promises plenty of action and a host of interesting characters.

STARFest released the schedule for its 11th season on Monday and it guarantees to have something for people of every literary taste, according to interim director Michelle Steinhusen.

“I am so thrilled. I think what excites me the most is that we really have something for everybody,” she said, adding that part of the excitement is a partial return to events on the real stage rather than the virtual one.

“We do have some authors who will be in person, so we get to have that back. We do also have some virtual events, so it makes it more accessible for people and lets us get authors that would normally not be traveling right now. That part is very cool as well.”

The star-studded slate of authors includes some homegrown talent in the likes of award-winning journalist Omar Mouallem and acclaimed author and filmmaker Anne Wheeler. For Wheeler, STARFest has partnered with the Arden Theatre for a screening of Bye Bye Blues with live music featuring some of the musicians from the film itself. Wheeler will attend the presentation and offer a talk on the film, followed by another event wherein she will talk about her new book Taken by the Muse: On the Path to Becoming a Filmmaker. Those take place on Oct. 13 and 14.

Mouallem, a new father, explores his Muslim identity and community by visiting 13 unique mosques across the West. His book Praying to the West is also a deep dive into how Muslims helped to shape the Americas. His presentation, with host Zain Velji, takes place on Oct. 22.

Other featured attractions of STARFest 2021 include a panel of romance novelists.

“I don't think we've really done that in the past. That is also very exciting. My friend Robin is so thrilled. I was like, ‘Who should I get?’ She's like ‘Courtney Milan’ and then Courtney Milan actually said yes so she's kind of freaking out,” Steinhusen said.

"It's actually quite a diverse panel as well so it should make for some really interesting discussion, because it'll be talking about romance, but it'll also be talking about diversity in the genre. So that's very exciting."

The Romance Panel is a virtual event also featuring Farah Heron and Uzma Jalaluddin who will join host Natasha Deen on Oct. 19.

Joshua Whitehead will bring his Canada Reads-winning novel Jonny Appleseed on Oct. 25, also to the virtual stage.

Other events include presentations and Q&As with authors Helen Humphreys, Genevieve Graham, Will Ferguson, Morgan Murray, Glenn Dixon, Amanda Leduc, Natalie Zina Walschots, Chevy Stevens, and Andrew Pyper.

Previous Metro Edmonton Library writer-in-residence Susie Moloney, herself an acclaimed horror writer, will bring director Eva Colmers to screen their short film The Suburbanight on Halloween Eve, followed by a discussion of the horrifying process from page to screen.

The 2021 festival runs from Oct. 12 to Nov. 2. Check for the full festival schedule and to buy event tickets today.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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