Spotlight on Atlantic Canada!

07 • 08

Newsflash! Your P.E.I. update

Summer may be over but Prince Edward Island’s film community has been busy! From sold-out screenings at the Charlottetown Film Festival to FilmPEI’s exciting new Film 4Ward incubator program and much more, here’s your P.E.I. update.

At the fourth annual Charlottetown Film Festival, audiences couldn’t get enough of P.E.I. films. The Telefilm-supported local feature Pogey Beach entertained a sold-out crowd at the festival’s opening night October 12, and locally-made documentary The Song and the Sorrow had an extra screening added as a result of demand.

More recently, Film PEI’s newly-launched Film 4Ward program announced the four selected emerging and mid-career projects submitted by P.E.I. filmmaking teams that will receive a total of $80,000 in funding as part of the initiative! The winning teams will each make a short film to help further their careers, benefit from mentoring and services, and like their fellow Island filmmakers, also get to take advantage of Film PEI’s new digs and state-of-the-art equipment. See the full list of the winning teams and projects here.

On the P.E.I. production front, Telefilm’s Talent to Watch participants wrapped shooting on the webseries Wharf Rats this past July, and more films, including A Blessing From the Sea, are slated to begin production on the island in the near future. So gear up for more great Canadian content from Island filmmakers!

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It’s a superb season for Atlantic films, so we’re putting the focus on some new features that were filmed in the Atlantic region this summer! Since Canadian diversity also refers to regional diversity and discovering the cinematic sensibilities of different parts of our fair land, we thought we’d check in with some of the talent making some of these flicks.

Two of these filmmakers shared with us some insider info about their upcoming features, as well as their thoughts on Atlantic filmmaking’s widespread appeal. They are: Halifax-based filmmaker Andrea Dorfman, whose new movie, Spinster, began as a script between the director and her collaborator, Jennifer Deyell, who wrote the film, and was shooting this summer in Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. (The duo also paired up for 2003’s Canadian comedy Love that Boy.)

We also got the scoop from writer and director Robert W. Gray, whose upcoming film Entropic was filmed this summer in New Brunswick, and is adapted from a short story he wrote that was also the title of his 2015 short story collection, which won the 2016 Thomas Raddall Atlantic Canadian Fiction Award. In 2017, Entropic was also selected for financing under the Talent Fund-supported Micro-Budget Production Program (now called the Talent to Watch Program.), as was a third Atlantic feature which recently went to camera! Scattered and Small, written and directed by Melanie Oates, was filming during the months of June and July in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Let’s hear what they have to say!

Andrea Dorfman:

What is exciting/what should we know about Spinster?

“The film, written by Jennifer Deyell, tells the story of the ‘spinster,’ which is more and more common yet less and less talked about, until it is almost a taboo. With more options, material wealth, and agency available to women than ever before, they are still pressured to feel ‘less than’ if they find themselves unmarried and childless. Is it possible to create a meaningful life as a ‘spinster?’ This is the central question explored in this film, and what makes it exciting is that as central as the ideas and themes of the film are, they’re rarely discussed in popular culture.”

How will your film speak to Canadian and international audiences?

“Stories are a reflection of who we are and creating them and telling them to other people communicates who we are and makes us real. The world over, women have been gaining autonomy. Spinster is, at its heart, a feminist story. It’s about being seen as a vital and complete human being without being attached to another, to romantic love, without being a wife. No matter what part of the world you live in, I would imagine, this story would resonate.”

What was your experience having well-known Hollywood star Chelsea Peretti featured in your locally-filmed, independent feature?

“Jennifer and I were both thrilled that Chelsea said ‘yes’ to coming on board our film as the lead role of Gaby, and not just because she would be able to attract a wider audience for the film through her fans. Chelsea loved the script, she connected to its themes, and from the start, was excited to dig into the character and make it her own. Her acting and comedy and understanding elevated and brought so much to Gaby. As a director, I benefited from being able to work with an actor with her specific range of experience and understanding of comedy. And I know, for Chelsea, being a lead in a feature film allowed her to stretch her own skills as an actor and performer.”

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R.W. Gray:

What is exciting/what should we know about Entropic?

“Entropic is a psychosexual thriller that follows one beautiful man’s brutal attempt to be done with beauty and freed from those that desire him.”

Why is it so important to make films in the Atlantic region?

“When you look at the vibrant history of Atlantic films — films like Margaret’s Museum, Hanging Garden, Werewolf, or Closet Monster — you see stories that are raw, and uneasily full of truth. Those stories are profoundly important and can change our understanding of who we are if we are open to them.”

How will your film speak to Canadian and international audiences?

“Told with a more thriller or gothic sensibility that is very Atlantic, the questions the film asks about beauty and objectification are more widely imperative in a world that casually swipes left on its humanity, and likes and follows the most filtered stories.”

Stay tuned for more news on Canadian films and talent from across the country!

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