Maddie, played by Melanie Rose Wilson (right) and Cher, played by Arabella Costello, in a scene from the upcoming Telefilm Talent to Watch feature film All-in Madonna, which premieres virtually at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec. 9. (Courtesy Blue Lake Films Ltd).

Maddie, played by Melanie Rose Wilson (right) and Cher, played by Arabella Costello, in a scene from the upcoming Telefilm Talent to Watch feature film All-in Madonna, which premieres virtually at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec. 9. (Courtesy Blue Lake Films Ltd).

Saanich director’s first feature virtually premieres at Whistler Film Festival

All-in Madonna, directed by Arnold Lim, streams Dec. 9 and is available through Dec. 31

It’s not the same as watching your first feature-length film premiere in a theatre, but Arnold Lim is “super, super excited” about the virtual launch of All-in Madonna at the Whistler Film Festival.

The Saanich-based director and filmmaker, by day the executive producer of Black Press Video Networks, is joining the film’s cast, crew and supporters for a COVID-friendly online watch party on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

“I go in trying to make the best film I can make and that’s all I can do, and to get accepted at the Whistler Film Festival is amazing, I’m so grateful for it,” he says. “I never really thought that it would get in, I had no idea and no preconceived notions about where it would go.”

The festival is offering film showings and other elements virtually through Dec. 20, and all films are available to stream until Dec. 31 for $15 each. Discount rates are available for multiple films.

All-in Madonna, directed by Lim and written by Susie Winters – the two met when both attended the University of Victoria – is one of 15 nominees for the Borsos Award as Best Canadian Feature at the festival.

Although Lim didn’t write the screenplay, he sees a lot of his own experiences in the story.

RELATED STORY: Black Press videographer leads Island-made film

Shot in Victoria and up Island with a predominantly Island cast and crew, the film follows Maddie (Melanie Rose Wilson), a 17-year-old girl living in a small rural town. She learns dark secrets about her father and has to reconcile herself with the man she thought she knew and who he may actually be.

“[She] has to go through a journey to really understand herself and where she stands in this small town and where her family stands,” Lim says. “A lot of it is about identity and the cyclical aspect of who we are and what that means.”

Lim spent his early teen years in the small town of Blue River, B.C., where he was not so much “Arnold,” but “the gas station owner’s son,” or “the Korean kid.” Despite the culture shock moving from Edmonton, he began some lifelong friendships there.

While at 13 he didn’t fully understand the idea of identity, he says it impacted his idea of how one’s family legacy impacts their children, “and that’s one of the themes in the film.”

The film was made through a Telefilm Talent to Watch grant worth $125,000 and a $25,000 B.C. Arts Council grant. A short, separately produced version of All-in Madonna, used as proof of concept in the two grant applications, is just finishing its festival circuit run.

RELATED STORY: Black Press videographer to direct full-length feature, wins Telefilm grant worth $125,000

Lim is humble, often deflecting credit for his own accomplishments and talents.

As he describes the dedication, commitment and passion of those involved in creating the film, it’s clear it could not have come together without people going the extra mile and believing in the project.

“Making a feature length film of any sort is a huge endeavour and really this film wasn’t built on anything other than the sweat equity of Vancouver Island artists,” Lim said.

“There’s no way you can make a film like this when you don’t have enough money if artists aren’t willing to hustle and put in their own time and energy far beyond what they’re paid … it’s a testament to the passion that artists have for making their art as well as supporting other artists.”

To stream All-in Madonna, visit whistlerfilmfestival.com/how-to-buy.


 

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Director Arnold Lim (centre) works behind the scenes with crew members on All-in Madonna, which premieres virtually at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec 9. (Patrick Coble/Blue Lake Films Ltd.)

Director Arnold Lim (centre) works behind the scenes with crew members on All-in Madonna, which premieres virtually at the Whistler Film Festival on Dec 9. (Patrick Coble/Blue Lake Films Ltd.)