Posted by: alexhickey | June 24, 2014

Magic in a Darkened Room ©

There is something magical about sitting in a darkened theatre filled with strangers watching short films and seeing your hometown shared with them there on the big screen. That same magic resonates when you see the name of someone you know from that hometown roll up in the screen credits. The feeling of being special is amplified when hometown faces of people you know in the films stare back at you. It is somewhat like being in a noisy crowd where conversations are whizzing by you at lightning speed and someone speaks your name. Instantly you become aware and your attention is drawn to the direction your ears tell you to look. Seeing something familiar and intimate on the screen has the same effect; your awareness of what is being shown is accentuated, bringing appreciation to ethereal heights because of the emotional attachment. And you wonder, is there anyone else in this room who feels the same way?

Nickel Film Festival 2014

Nickel Film Festival 2014

Such was the case with the 14th Annual Nickel Independent Film Festival held in St. John’s recently which featured works by film makers Ruth Lawrence and Justin Oakey, both of whom have their roots and influences in St. Jacques. Ruth has an illustrious career as actor, writer, and film maker which continues to ascend. Justin is early into a career as film maker, video producer and musician.

Ruth Lawrence’s film, titled La Quelle Affaire, is about a young woman who meets up with her boyfriend at a table where everything is edible. The film is based on Danielle Devereaux’s poem Quelle Affaire, which according to the author’s remarks when introducing the film, is the briefest poem she has ever written, comprising only the following two lines:

“‘You are what you eat,’ dieters are told.
I ate my lover’s wedding band; now I’m good as gold.”

La Quelle Affaire 2014

La Quelle Affaire 2014

The Nickel Program describes the film as “Using natural winter light and edible props, this film explores the sensual and gut-wrenching nature of a love affair. Shot and edited by Brad Gover, with music by Sherry Ryan, and starring Meghan Greeley and Stephen Dunn.”

Opening night of the Festival featured another of Ruth Lawrence’s films which is gathering critical acclaim across the country, Talus and Scree. The title is inspired by the clusters of different sized rocks we see scattered around the base of hills in Newfoundland and elsewhere. The film deals with the doubts that emerge in childhood when events are not fully understood. The story, inspired by true events surrounding a younger sister who died in childhood, revolves around the two sisters.

Talus and Scree 2014

Talus and Scree 2014

Kate, who is eleven years old, is urged by her mother to permit her younger sister Daisy to join with her in play. An accident occurs which could have been life-threatening to Daisy.  A few months later when Daisy falls seriously ill, Kate is thrown into emotional turmoil. Thirty years later, Kate comes to grips with her  unfounded guilt held over from what happened on that innocent day of play.

Written and directed by Ruth Lawrence, produced by Krysta Rudofsky under the PictureStart program (Telefilm/NIFCO) in May 2013. The Director of Photography is Stephanie Weber-BIron. It won the Linda Joy Award in September 2012 and the Women in Film & Television-Atlantic’s AAP Award in July 2013. The cast includes Emily Dawe, Tegan Macdonald, Claire Donnan, Julia Halfyard, Erin Mackey, Jennifer Nakashima, and Roger Maunder.

It has shown at the Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax) 2013, St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival 2013, Silver Wave Film Festival (Fredericton, Festival Top 10) 2014, and the Women In Film and Television International Showcase 2014, among others. Talus & Scree has made it to the CBC Short Film Face-Off, 2014.

Visit the web site of Ruth Lawrence’s production company Blue Pinion Films to see more information about her films. Get further insight into the motivation behind the making of this film by reading Danette Dooly’s article in The Telegram June 4, 2013 titled Local Movie was Cathartic for Filmmaker. Check out the Facebook Page for Blue Pinion Films. 

Watch Talus and Scree.

The World is Burning 2013

The World is Burning 2013

Justin Oakey’s film, titled The World Is Burning is based upon a real life experience of his grandfather, Albert Oakey, who still resides in St. Jacques. Albert was ‘in the woods’ one day when he was stalked by Coyotes, an unnerving experienced for anyone, particularly when you are alone in the wilderness. He was successful in driving them off and returning safely home. Justin’s father relayed the story to Justin who lives and works in Toronto. The story stimulated the creative forces within him and the idea for The World is Burning was born. The Nickel program describes the film in this way:

After his grandfather is fatally attacked by coyotes, a young Newfoundlander returns to his rural hometown to be with his family. His return becomes a reunion

Albert Oakey

Albert Oakey

with a traditional lifestyle he had left behind when, late one night, he finds himself deep in the forest hunting the coyotes.

Written and directed and produced by Justin Oakey and co-produced by Adam Reynolds the roles are performed by Brad Bonnell, Bruce Brenton, Janet O’Reilly, Albert Oakey and Tasha Potter. This film has shown at the 2013 Atlantic Film Festival (Halifax), the Court des Iles festival in Tahiti, the Jozi Film Festival in South Africa and the AsterFest International Film Festival in Macedonia, among others.

Check out some of his other work on his Tumblr page Burial Offerings. Visit the National Screen Institute Web Site where the film is being featured in its online film festival to read what Justin has to say about his film. Read a review of the film at the Beard Blueprint Blog published on April 09, 2014. Check out the Facebook Page for The World is Burning.

Watch The World is Burning.

St. Jacques currently has a population of about 140 people who reside there year-round. During the warmer months of the year that population increases with visitors, former residents and those who reside there for part of the year. During the second weekend of August the population soars during the South Coast Arts Festival. For the past three years the Nickel Roadshow has taken its films to the Community Centre in St. Jacques. We expect this year will be no different. We also expect to be screening both Talus and Scree and The World is Burning. If you are in or near St. Jacques during the second week of August drop by to see what I mean about that magical feeling you get when the familiar is up there on the big screen.



  1. Wonderful post!

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