When Martine Blue moved to Newfoundland in 2008, she already experienced many of the highs and lows that inspired her first feature film Hunting Pignut.

While living in Manhattan’s C-squat in the late 1990s, Blue bought a 16mm Arriflex camera from a friend of the family and shot a B-movie about the gentrification of her neighbourhood. Eventually moving to Toronto in 2004, she bought more equipment and learned how to edit.

“From there I just made DIY no budget films for a long time until I moved here and started applying for money,” says Blue.

Although Blue’s former squatter lifestyle played a significant role in the development of Hunting Pignut, the driving force behind the film was her father’s death from substance abuse in 2004.

“When someone passes away like that, it’s an unfinished relationship,” says Blue. “They’re just cut off and you can’t see them anymore. He was a singer and I was always looking for signs from him. Sometimes his songs would play, often at the most poignant moments in my life.”

Hunting Pignut stars Taylor Hickson as Bernice Kilfoy, a 15-year-old misfit who runs away from her rural Newfoundland community in search of Pignut – a tormented and violent gutter punk played by Joel Thomas Hynes – after he steals her father’s ashes right out of his urn.

“The name Pignut comes from an old guinea pig that I used to have when I lived at C-squat,” explains Blue.

Fresh from its world premiere at the Atlantic Film Festival in September, the film has in many ways come full circle. Blue developed the project as part of the festival’s Inspired Scripts Program and first pitched it to producer Paul Pope of Pope Productions during the festival’s gala party for Roller Town in 2011.

“He was intrigued enough to start developing the project loosely for about year. He didn’t commit anything to me, but gave me a couple of small writing exercises to see if I would do them, and then a year later out of the blue he just called me up and said I’m going after development funding for this. Paul has to know who you are and who he’s working with and he takes his time sometimes.”

Backed by a strong and engaging social media campaign that features behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew, Hunting Pignut is now making its way across Canada’s festival circuit with screenings at Cinefest Sudbury and Whistler following its world premiere in Halifax.

“I felt excited to finally get to share the film with an audience after working so hard on it for so long,” says Blue. “The film got a great reception as far as I can tell. People had many glowing compliments about various aspects of it, so I believe they really dug it.”

Local audiences can catch Hunting Pignut at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival when it screens on Saturday, October 22, along with Blue’s comedic fantasy short film The Perfect Family.