Hollywood heavyweight Donald Sutherland’s hometown of Saint John is paying tribute to his legendary career with a film festival.  

After a career spanning six decades, Sutherland received an honoury Oscar at the Governors Awards. Librarian Jody Osicki had planned to showcase the mini Sutherland film festival well before that news broke.

"I did some hunting around online until I found his publicity folks. Emailed them, they got back to me and we went back and forth on the movies,” says Osicki.

On the day of the first movie screening, Osicki received a letter directly from Sutherland, which included photos of his early years in the port city.

"Maybe in his senior age now he's thinking a little bit more about the place where he's from and reminiscing about it," says Bernie Cormier, Saint John’s cultural affairs officer.

When Sutherland was 12, he moved to Bridgewater, N.S., with his family. He later went on to study engineering and drama at the University of Toronto. Sutherland’s diverse credit list includes Animal House, JFK and the popular Hunger Games franchise.

Cormier tried to get Sutherland to come back to Saint John two years ago for his 80th birthday. He wanted to organize two separate events at the imperial theatre so he could speak with theatre students and have an open session for the public.

“We just couldn't get through to him and his 80th birthday passed,” says Cormier. “Maybe we'll aim for 85."

At 82 years old, Sutherland is still involved in a variety of projects. Cormier feels his dedication to the industry should be celebrated in the port city beyond a mini film festival.

"When you're celebrating your own native son in your city, that becomes an attraction to tourists,” he says. "Donald Sutherland has over 200 films to his credit."

After concluding the letter by giving his love to Saint John, fans are holding out hope that Sutherland will one day return.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.