Salt Spring Island will be the setting of a new short film written by Tamara Hamilton that looks at loss and recovery through community and whimsy.
Filming wrapped up on Oct. 5 for the film, which included several Salt Spring Island community members in background roles. Awakening is the story of a woman named Cora who is grieving from the sudden loss of her husband. After her husband takes his own life, Cora returns to her childhood home (Salt Spring) to start the healing process. Cora initially feels lost and hopeless, but she ends up being reacquainted with her childhood imaginary friend who guides her along the path to recovery.
“She’s someone who is so in despair and all of her attempts to reconnect just go totally awry,” Hamilton said. “She continues to push through it with the support of her imaginary friend and she’s able to come alive again.”
Hamilton, who lives in the Lower Mainland, wrote the screenplay based on an image she had in her head of a woman who is so upset by her husband’s passing that she eats his ashes. The idea was encouraged by her co-writer Mark Anthony Hogan and it was changed from a drama to a comedy.
“The emphasis isn’t on the suicide, but on the healing part, like what happens after a woman loses her husband who she didn’t even realize was so depressed and willing to take his life. What do you do when you feel so isolated and sad and on the brink of madness?” Hamilton said. “I didn’t want it to be a serious drama. I wanted there to be whimsy.”
She chose Salt Spring as a setting for the film because the island has a unique combination of quiet and solitude, and has a strong community. The setting gives Cora the space to do introspective work after the death of her husband, as well as to reach out to a vibrant community to help lift herself up when she’s ready.
“To me, Salt Spring is a place of creativity, whimsy, beauty, solitude and peace. It’s a place to have the space and quiet to be able to have that inner dialogue that is more challenging in the city because there’s so much stimulus. Sometimes it’s hard to really quiet down and be still,” Hamilton said.
“We put several calls out for auditions and for background actors,” she added. “We were so surprised at the turnout and enthusiasm. It was so incredible.”
Hamilton said the film will now enter the post-production phase, which she hopes will be short. She intends on submitting the film to festivals worldwide, and having screenings on Salt Spring and in Vancouver when the festival run is complete.