I recently was asked by the First Weekend Club to sing for the pre-screening of the Year of the Carnivore, a film by Canadian writer/director/actress Sook Yin Lee. Always happy to support Canadian films as well as the First Weekend Club, I quickly agreed. The First Weekend Club puts on an event that is unlike any other movie experience. First of all the theatre, District 319, is simply stunning in decor, style and comfort and is the antithesis of a big movie house, feeling more like an exclusive club where you get to enjoy wine, appy's, live music and time mingling with the actors, producers and key players in the film before it rolls. For this event I asked a naturally gifted singer/songwriter Stephanie Lee Rhodes to join me and if I do say so myself it was a beautiful and effortless blending of voices and music.
After the wine reception, everyone headed to the theatre to claim one of the big comfy red leather arm chairs and settled in to watch the film. This romantic-comedy-drama follows Sammy, a 21 year old girl with an unrequited crush on a boy who thinks she's bad in bed. She hatches a plan to get more 'experience,’ catapulting her on a quest that takes her through her neighbors’ bedroom, the public swimming pool,
and finally to blackmailing shoplifters into giving her sex lessons.
I am not a film reviewer by nature so I won't offer much in the way of a review but I do have some personal feelings about the story to share. While I found the lead actress to be very adorable to watch as she navigated her way through her uncertainties, the story was a little uncomfortable for me to be honest. In fact at first I thought it was oddly appropriate that they had asked me to open for this particular film as I can relate to the some of the characters feelings of inadequacy. But the actions she took in the face of rejection had me squirming in my seat as she took the exact opposite route I would be inclined to walk, that is, I would be inclined to choose a path that is far less.... crowded. Personally if I experience unrequited feelings for another rather than becoming determined to release my inner sexuality, I tend to just go deep inside myself to hide (right in front of everyone yes, but I hide nonetheless) and like a turtle and I will stay in my shell until I am sure it is safe to come out, if ever.
But this character Sammy was the polar opposite, she went way outside herself and put herself in situations that I could never imagine putting myself in and I found myself covering my mouth in a bit of shock as Sook Yin opened up the window to her vulnerabilities and resulting actions. As the mother of a daughter who will grow up in todays world I feared this story alot in fact, but by the same token it is good to be aware of things that I don't get and a story such as this which is exploring someones journey out of innocence, can deliver insights not otherwise seen so I admire Sook Yin's ability to write so boldly yet still deliver a character that is both charming and amusing. (see trailer)
After the film finished the director Sook Yin Lee was dialed in on Skype and the actors were brought up front to do a question and answer session with the audience. This is always interesting to see their personal take on a film as often times these pre-screenings are the actors own first chance to see the film themselves. We the audience are often let in on some unique insights from their memories of the shooting.
By the way I can't carry on without saying a big thank you to Murielle Fréoa for the photographs, and also to the stellar folks at Long and McQuade for letting me use the slick Bose speaker tower you see behind me in the pictures. If you need a small portable PA system with crystal clear sound that disperses beautifully around a room with no feedback, I highly recommend you give this system some serious consideration because it is a dream to use.
Thanks to the folks from the First Weekend Club for all that you do for Canadian filmakers, and thank you for asking me time and again to be a part of your pre-screening events. Also thanks to Stephanie for making the trip over from the island and for singing so beautifully with me, that was a truly fun and artistic day and it was a real pleasure to work with you. And to you dear reader, go see the Year of the Carnivore, and take some time to support more Canadian films. To find them, please go to the First Weekend Club website and watch for all the wonderful events they put on.
best, Rach xo