It’s premiered in Switzerland and had its Canadian premiere last weekend at Vancouver’s Reel 2 Real film festival, and now it’s Merritt’s turn.
The film Shana: The Wolf’s Music, which was filmed in and stars locals from the Nicola Valley, will be shown at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology from Thursday to Saturday.
Shana herself plans to attend all three showings. Played by Sunshine O’Donovan, the film follows young Shana as she discovers herself through the power of music with the help of her violin teacher.
O’Donovan and her co-star, Delilah Dick, spent two weeks in Switzerland attending eight premieres of the film in various cities, such as Berne, Zurich and Solothurn.
The showing in Solothurn was sold out, O’Donovan told the Herald, noting she had a lot of autographing to do afterwards.
Between Switzerland and the Reel 2 Reel festival, O’Donovan has had multiple interviews and has attended even more showings of the movie.
She said she was surprised by the amount of media attention she’s received from the film.
“I’m kind of surprised that I’m being interviewed by all these people. It’s really cool and I hope it spreads the word for Shana, to say what a great film it is and what a good time we had during the film,” O’Donovan said.
“I never really thought that I’d have this much attention on me,” she said.
The film’s director, Nino Jacusso, will also attend the Merritt premiere.
Jacusso told the Herald he could not describe in words why he chose to shoot his film in the Nicola Valley, chalking up his reasoning to a feeling rather than a thought.
“I don’t know why, but we dropped in in Lower Nicola, in the Nicola Valley, and we were just touched in our heart from the people, from the landscape … maybe from the spirits who are living there,” Jacusso said.
The movie is an adaptation of the book of the same name by author Frederica de Cesco.
Jacusso said about 80 or 90 per cent of the film version had been changed from the book version to make it more reflective of the Scw’exmx culture.
“Film for me is made like a mirror of all life, so for me it’s important to make it real,” Jacusso said.
Jacusso said he uses non-actors instead of professional actors because they add to the realism of a film in that they play a role where they can be themselves.
Jacusso said the roles in the movie adapted to each person’s personality.
“Shana is a part of Sunshine in the movie, and it’s not an actress who makes Shana possible,” Jacusso said.
Jacusso said when he first met O’Donovan, he knew she was the right fit for the lead role.
O’Donovan told the Herald it was easy to play Shana because she was told to be herself.
She said she heard that Jacusso was looking for a girl who could play violin and applied for the role not knowing it was the lead. O’Donovan said she knows how to play violin, although she’s still a beginner.
As far as why she decided to apply, O’Donovan said she never knew if she’d have the opportunity to be in a movie again so she decided she should take the chance while she had it.
The movie is now playing in 40 theatres in Switzerland, Jacusso said.
NVIT instructor and fellow actor in the film Mil Juricic said he hopes School District 58 will incorporate the film into its curriculum.
“It’s a unique piece that makes a big contribution to the bridging between native culture and mainstream, dominant culture,” Juricic said of the film, noting Shana’s playing of the violin – a non-native instrument.
“You suddenly realize that the violin become part of this native culture,” Juricic said. “It doesn’t matter what instrument it would be it doesn’t have to be a drum; it can be anything … instruments are just made to speak. What they speak is a whole different story.”
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. each night from April 10 to 12 and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children and students. The film plays at NVIT’s lecture theatre.