Atlantic Canadians spoke and a film distributor listened.
Maudie, a dramatization of the life of Nova Scotia folk artist Maud Lewis, opened in Halifax at Cineplex Cinemas Oxford on April 14 as well as in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.
But many would-be moviegoers took to social media to express their dismay that they could not see it in their hometowns.
After receiving more than a thousand shares on its Facebook page alone from fans who wanted to see the Canada-Ireland co-production, Mongrel Media announced Tuesday that it is adding additional screenings beginning April 21 across Atlantic Canada, says a news release.
The film, directed by Ireland's Aisling Walsh, stars Oscar nominees Sally Hawkins as Maud Lewis and Ethan Hawke as fish pedlar Everett Lewis. It was shot in Newfoundland "where historic locations resemble Nova Scotia from the 1930s through 1960s, when the story takes place," says the release.
Cape Breton native Billy MacLellan, whose TV credits include the series Bellevue, Defiance, 12 Monkeys and Murdoch Mysteries, has a substantial role as Frank, who is one of Everett's best friends.
The film was the sold-out opening gala at the Atlantic Film Festival in Halifax last September and won the Gordon Parsons Award for best Atlantic feature and the Michael Weir Award for best Atlantic screenwriter for screenwriter Sherry White.
"Maudie is a gem of a film and it is very gratifying to see that Canadian audiences are seeking out this film in droves. Maud Lewis is one of this country's unsung heroes and it is a particularly apt moment in this sesquicentennial year of Canada that Canadians will be able to see her life story on the big screen," says Hussain Amarshi, president of Mongrel Media and one of the film's executive producers, in the release.
On Friday, the film will expand from four to a total of 30 screens across Canada, including screenings in Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Lower Sackville, New Glasgow, New Minas, Yarmouth and Sydney as well as New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, Montreal, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria.
Based on a true story, the film showcases the unlikely romance between the famed artist and the miserly Everett Lewis, who hires Maud as housekeeper for his tiny house which she covers with paintings, created for the sheer love of art despite the pain caused by her hands crippled by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
People once bought her paintings at the side of the road for $5 and now they sell for up to $20,000. Former U.S. president Richard Nixon even bought Maud's works for the White House and Maud's "painted house" is in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Maudie has worldwide distribution through Sony Classics and is opening June 16 in the United States.