‘A genuinely Canadian film in the best sense of the word’
Hrant Alianak, a renowned playwright and theatre director, presented his first feature film A Trip to the Island on Oct. 16 at the Kingsway Theatre.
The film, which was shot in 10 days, tells a story of a writer living on an island, working on a new script, projecting his life on every man’s past. This past is filled with regrets and illusions.
At the same time, he is trying look at his complicated relations with his wife to understand what he could have done differently. Eventually he realises: “I am here. Because I want to be.”
Nick Mancuso who plays the writer in the film said, “It is a genuinely Canadian film in the best sense of the word.”
A Trip to the Island also features George Brown alumna Valerie Buhagiar as Victoria, the writer’s wife. Buhagiar, an award-winning Maltese-born Canadian actress and film director, graduated from George Brown’s Acting Program in 1986.
The film’s script might seem confusing to some, she said. “I understood it, and Hrant said it’s because I make weird films.”
The film was shot in the house that Buhagiar was living in during filming three years ago. “Hrant actually came to the (Toronto) Island, which is funny because he hates nature. He won’t even sit in somebody’s backyard.” Describing her work with Alianak, she said he has a very precise vision, whereas many directors don’t.
Buhagiar, who left high school a semester early, took a job as a puppeteer and went to China at the age of 18, but always wanted to do theatre. “I took a bunch of acting classes and never found a community. That’s when I got into George Brown and it was better for me than I thought.”
“The beauty with George Brown back then was they accepted who you were and nourished that, whereas other theatre schools wanted to mould you,” asserted Buhagiar.
The only difficult aspect, she added, was the college’s lack of reputation. “It was just harder to get through auditions.”
These days, Buhagiar acts in plays, TV shows, films and she has just finished shooting her second feature film It’s Hard to Be Human. “I like it all. I think they all feed each other.”