The eight-minute short film was not only co-produced by Bruno Lyra – a 2017 graduate of TFS’s Film Production Diploma program – but it also featured a crew comprised mainly of the 36-year-old Rio de Janeiro native’s former TFS classmates and students.
“It’s great. TIFF is renowned around the world – it’s something I think all filmmakers have as a goal. But, of course, if you’re a filmmaker in Canada, and particularly Toronto, it’s got a special meaning,” said Lyra, who handpicked many of the project’s crew from students in the Film Contract/Copyright class he now teaches at TFS.
“Being able to be a very small part of (TIFF), but still a part of it, is a great experience – most of all, being able to give this back to the crew and everybody who helped out on the project.”
Adapted for the screen and directed by Renuka Jeyapalan, Life Support is just one of six projects included in Carousel Pictures’ and Sugar Shack Productions’ anthology series of films entitled First Person.
Each of the six shorts that make up the collection are based on selections from the Globe and Mail’s popular First Person essays – a “venerable” compilation of intimate stories submitted to the paper by its everyday readers for the last 30 years.
“Life Support is the story of two very different people making an unexpected and meaningful connection,” Jeyapalan said of the film, which is based on a November 2017 essay by Barbara Wackerle Baker.
“I wanted to honour the poignancy of the original essay by not overcomplicating the film’s form. The black and white approach, classical music, as well as the elegant shot design allowed the themes and the characters to be fore-fronted so that they would resonate more deeply with an audience.”
Artem Mykhailetskyi, a 2018 TFS Film Production grad who acted as first assistant camera on all six films in the First Person series, said he’s still trying to process the magnitude of having one of his first post-graduation projects selected to premiere at TIFF.
“I personally have not fully realized…what it actually means to have a project that you worked on selected for TIFF,” he said.
“All the people who put this project together, including Bruno and everybody else, definitely put together something special. I’m really proud of it, and I cannot wait to hopefully attend it and see what the reception is. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
Lyra echoed that sentiment: “It feels great! One thing I always talked to students about as an instructor, and to peers about as a student, is the objective here (at TFS) is to enter the industry and be able to contribute through creative endeavours and get to do what we want to do – that’s the reward,” he said.
“When you’re lucky enough to get to do what we do, the reward is the work itself. So, this feels great.”
Life Support, starring Raven Dauda (Star Trek: Discovery) and Jayne Eastwood (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) marked its World Premiere during TIFF’s Short Cuts Programme 02 on Friday, Sept. 6 at the Scotiabank Theatre.
Its second TIFF screening will take place, again at the Scotiabank Theatre, on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 9 p.m.