The 20th annual Shadows of the Mind Film Festival kicked off Saturday evening at the Sault Community Theatre Centre with a gala and movie screening.
Giant Little Ones, filmed right here in the Sault, is a movie about friendship between two teenage boys, self discovery and the power of love without labels.
Director and screenwriter Keith Behrman said the inspiration for this movie came to him after he had a dream about five years ago where a young man was talking to his mother in the kitchen of their house.
“I got up and I started writing the dream out and I just kept writing and writing and eventually I realized there was a film that was waiting to come out,” he explained, “and I realized that I wanted to make a film that was about love and about family and about acceptance and just being true to yourself.
“There’s so much divisiveness around how people are, around sexuality or whatever in the world now and we just wanted to make a film that spoke to the wholeness of people and just people being who they really are and having understanding and compassion for each other.”
He also drew from his own experiences, growing up in a conservative prairie town in Saskatchewan where he said he felt uncomfortable and restricted by the “very hard lines around masculinity and what it meant to be a man.”
“When I was ready to make this film, that was one of the things that I wanted to express – the hard definitions we have around who we are and the labels we have for ourselves and the labels we have for everybody else and the way we’re supposed to be,” he said. “But, human beings are way more complex than that – way more nuanced and layered than can really be captured in all these categories we have. So I wanted to make a film that was about breaking out of those categories and being the whole, full person that you can be.”
Behrman said they chose to film in the Sault because of the greenery and nature. He said he wanted the two main characters – teenage boys – to be moving around the streets and riding their bikes in a warm, sunny outdoor environment. His producer had also shot two other films in the city before this one and had a good experience doing so, so they decided it would be a great place to make the film.
Giant Little Ones has been screened at film festivals around the world, which Behrman said has been an amazing experience. Because they travel with the film, he’s been able to meet people all over the world, who he said all have had a similar response to the movie and it’s message – being true to yourself and not conforming to the boxes people put you into – straight or gay, man or woman, etc.
“A lot of people are really appreciate the film, they’re really grateful for the film and the message of the film, and they’re really moved and touched by the film wherever we go,” he said, explaining that he’s even had kids come up to him and tell him the movie has changed and even saved their lives.
“It’s been very meaningful to people,” he said. “So that’s been really special.”
Behrman said it’s great to be back in the Sault screening the movie right where it was filmed.
“It’s really great,” he said. “We did have a really special time making the film here, and everyone was so helpful and cooperative and supportive so it feels really nice to be back here and sharing the film with people here.”
Shadows of the Mind started 20 years ago as a way to promote conversations by shining light on mental health, addictions and social issues that are important to the community, through the unique power of film.
The festival continues throughout the week, with a total of 28 films being screened in a nine-day span.
For more information about Shadows of the Mind and the full schedule, click here.