|About the Film
Adapted for the screen from the novella Angelique Abandoned by author James R. Stevens, Angelique’s Isle is a feature film in development along with co-producers Circle Blue Films. Development is being supported by Telefilm Canada.
The screenplay Angelique’s Isle, written by Michelle Derosier, took home the award for Best Screenplay at the 2015 Northern Ontario Music and Film Awards.
CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund announces inaugural recipients
The coming-of-age of a 60-year-old Chinese-Canadian woman whose husband is having an affair, a story of survival on frigid Lake Superior and a unique ghost story are all set to be put to film, in part, due to funding from a new CBC initiative.
"When you have a lead character who is not a 20-something, non-person of colour, it's really hard to fund a film," said filmmaker Mina Shum. "We just traditionally in the marketplace underrepresent certain groups."
It's that lack of attention that the Breaking Barriers Film Fund is trying to help overcome.
On Wednesday,Meditation Park, written by Shum, Angelique's Isle, written by Michelle Derosier, and Octavio Is Dead! written by Sook-Yin Lee were announced as the inaugural projects to receive financing through the fund.
The CBC announced the initiative in November 2016 as a way to help level the playing field so that underrepresented creators, such as women, Indigenous people, persons with disabilities and other visible minorities have access to financing.
Shum's project stars Chinese icon Cheng Pei Pei in a bittersweet comedy about a 60-year-old woman in East Vancouver whose life is changed after she discovers evidence of her husband having an affair.
"It's a coming-of-age story is how I think of it — she just happens to be 60," Shum said.
"She spends her whole life taking care of her kids, her English is shaky ... the plight of many isolated immigrant women, and because of something that happened, she actually is forced to venture into the outside world."
'To receive funding has been very, very difficult'
Having money available for artists working outside mainstream film channels can only help increase the diversity of stories that get told, said Michelle Derosier, a filmmaker based in Thunder Bay, Ont., and originally from Migisi Sahgaigan (Eagle Lake First Nation) in northern Ontario.
"To receive funding has been very, very difficult for women," she said. "Let alone an Indigenous woman from a small northern Ontario community."
Derosier's film, Angelique's Isle, is based on a true story of an Indigenous woman who was abandoned along with her husband on Isle Royale on Lake Superior in 1845 by American copper hunters.
"It's a survival story I suppose at its essence," she said. "But it's also about, I think, finding yourself."
The third project, Octavio Is Dead! by Sook-Yin Lee, is described as a "mysterious, sensual ghost story," about a young woman escaping her domineering mother; the story touches on themes of sexual identity, the occult and the power of reality versus imagination.
Among other criteria, each prospective project must be a fictional English-language feature film from a creator who has had at least one feature film at a recognized festival.
$7.5M over next 3 years
The CBC's commitment will see the national broadcaster invest at least $7.5 million into the Breaking Barriers Film Fund over the next three years.
"The first three films selected for the CBC Breaking Barriers Film Fund underscore our commitment to supporting underrepresented creators who reflect the full range of voices throughout Canada," Helen Du Toit, the fund's interim senior director was quoted as saying in a written release issued Wednesday.
All three films are also supported by Telefilm Canada.
Isle Royale 1845-1846
JAMES R. STEVENS
Angelique Mott was seventeen when she was deceived and eventually left on her own with no food to survive a frigid winter on Michigan’s famed Isle Royale. Her fight to survive is a heroic epic on the Lake Superior Frontier of 1845 and 46. James R. Stevens’ novella, based on historical fact is an emotional journey with Angelique as she starves and deals with her faith in Christianity and the spirit world of her forest people. Much of the story streams forth in the words of an old Metis grandson living alone on Madeline Island in Wisconsin. Angelique’s journey into a winter of hell begins at Sault Ste. Marie when she and her husband, Charlie Mott ride the schooner Algonquin to the shores of Isle Royale in a search for copper.
“Angelique’s story represents the essence of our true selves, and despite the intrusions of foreign doctrine. James Stevens properly portrays the powerful and mystical ways of our unique spirituality. This, the mainstay of Angelique’s survival crossed by the violent nature of humanity and of nature itself. Angelique teaches us the essential human elements…..faith in yourself and forgiveness to those who have caused so much tragedy. Little did I know that I would be so engulfed in Angelique’s harrowing life experience that I became a part of her journey in such a way that I will never forget. The book reinforces our belief system of never giving up and the power of forgiveness. This story is a must read for everyone. ”
Marlene Pierre—Ojibway Woman Activist—
Thunder Bay, Ontario