Local Feature, Relative Happiness, to Close this Year’s SJIWFF

Relative Happiness, a local feature film, screened at Cannes this year, and will close the 2014 St. John's INternational Women's Film Festival October 18th.

The 25th annual St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival announced this year’s opening and closing night films, and will be unveiling other details of the october-based film festival shortly.

October Gale, “masterfully directed by Canadian filmmaker Ruba Nadda” will open the festival on October 14th. Its screening here will follow its world-premiere as part of the TIFF Special Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

It was during TIFF 2009 that Nadda won Best Canadian Feature for her film Cairo Time. October Gale, currently in post-production, is already generating an enormous buzz on the Canadian festival circuit.

Relative Happiness, a local feature film, screened at Cannes this year, and will close the 2014 St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival October 18th.

The film is an adaptation of Leslie Crewe’s novel of the same name. Like many first novels, Crewe’s Relative Happiness is semi-autobiographical.

“It was only a diary run amok! I wrote for two months straight and cried every day, because I am Lexie and she allowed me to say things that I never could. She came in very handy.”

The film adaptation of her debut, and award-nominated novel, screened at Cannes this year, arguably the most prestigious film festival in the world this year. The movie, is being pitched as a romantic comedy that tells the story of a plus-sized bed and breakfast owner who realizes that “real relationships aren’t like the Jane Austen-esque romantic ideals she’s been coveting.”

Lexie feels like the imperfect sibling in an otherwise perfect family, and is looking for love in a town too small to maybe find it. Newfoundland’s Deanne Foley directed the ordeal, and co-wrote the script with Crewe, Iain MacLeod, and Sherry White.

It’s a Newfoundland & Nova Scotia partnership, with many recognizable local film types involved, including Jill Knox-Gosse and Lynne Wilson of St. John’s-based Wreckhouse Productions. After working with Foley on her short film The Magnificent Molly McBride, Knox-Gosse and Wilson were left wanting to do another project with her.

As Knox-Gosse has said, “Foley’s films often focus on female underdogs who find the inner strength to overcome obstacles in hilarious and uniquely offbeat ways.” The film takes a few different twists and turns than the novel, which allowed Foley to achieve the emotionally engaging and visually striking film she was after.

Foley was a former field producer for CBC’s Street Cents: it’s no surprise then, that Jonathan Torrens – the face of Street Cents back in the day – is in the film. He plays Richard, “the uptight fiancé” of the main character’s fiery younger sister.

There are several local actors and actresses in the film as well, including Susan Kent in the role of Susie (the main character’s friend) and Joel Thomas Hynes who plays her love interest. Hynes is of course playing “a small time hoodlum biker-type, fresh out of jail, trying to rebuild his life.”

Kent and Hynes worked together before, on CBC’s Hatching Matching, and Dispatching, playing the roles of a couple. Hynes has joked that “even though I begged wardrobe not to put her in heels, I love working with Susan Kent. She’s a total pro, a very dedicated performer that I always learn a lot from.”

Another local, Mary Lewis,  plays the mother of the three sisters – a woman who, despite all efforts to appear flawless and composed is struggling with “a little turmoil beneath the veneer,” as Lewis has said.

Of working with Foley, Lewis is very complimentary. “Deanne is always up for a witticism or a chuckle, even in the most stressful moments. And she’s talented and humble and doesn’t take herself too seriously: always a winning combination in a leader.”

Relative Happiness will be featured as part of our Emera Closing Night Gala on October 18, at The Arts & Culture Centre

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