When a survivor of the Dutch Hunger Winter discovers a treasure that had been torn from her family by a conspiracy of injustices, she risks breaking the law and a valued friendship in order to reclaim her heritage.
(Screens at #ocanfilmfest2019 on Nov 2 at 6:30pm – details & tickets)
During the Dutch Hunger winter of 1945, ANNIKA MYERS was forced to trade her family’s treasured painting of a feast for rations. Now, at 84, she has found it, and she wants EVAN O’NEILL, the diligent retired manager of a grocery store, to help her steal it back. But is it truly the painting she hungers for? Evan, who has something of his own to reclaim, is faced with a difficult but life-affirming choice in this short drama, The Still Life of Annika Myers.
Director/Producer Matthew Blecha and Producer Darlene Tait had collaborated previously and re-connected over their shared love of the script written by Giller Prize nominee, Claire Mulligan. Matthew knew intuitively, the actors who could fulfill the roles having witnessed Barbara Wallace’s (ANNIKA MYERS) work and and having worked with Brian Taylor (EVAN O’NEILL) in the past. Darlene brought in an award-winning team in Production Designer, Joyce Kline, (LEO 2017), sound Designer/Composer, Gilles Maillet (LEO 2017), and Cinematographer, Daniel Carruthers (LEO 2018) all of whom had worked on two of her previously produced films, The Cameraman (LEO BEST SHORT 2017) and ENCORE (LEO nominated 2019). With key creatives in place, Matthew enrolled some of the best crew the industry has to offer. Then he and Joyce locked down locations that dramatically enhanced each and every scene. Fortunate to be filmed in a city rich with historic locations, the stage was fully set to begin production of The Still Life of Annika Myers.
What inspired your film?
My previous film, Super Bingo, that screened at the Ottawa Canadian Film Festival, led me to this one. I was introduced to a talented writer Claire Mulligan who showed me her script at the Short Circuit Pacific Rim festival in Victoria, and I loved it. We decided to make it. My inspiration then was to be involved in the telling of a good story.
What was the biggest challenge in making your film?
My biggest challenge was to coordinate location availability with crew availability. The limited availability if a certain location ended up dictating who was able to help us make it.
What was the best part of the experience for you?
The best part for me was how devoted everyone was to the project. The entire group of cast, crew and background performers were fully supportive and afterward, everyone praised the experience. That is very rewarding to me.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
Two things. 1) Just do it. Set all your excuses aside, and go out there and make a movie. 2) Be respectful, considerate and organized. Treating people respectfully goes a long way toward getting the support one needs to make movies.
What’s next for you?
I’ve worked all year in the industry. Looking forward to taking Nov & Dec off to cultivate my next project.
Click here for more info on the films screening this year.