An award-winning film produced and directed by Humber instructor Sofia Bohdanowicz, Never Eat Alone, enjoyed its city premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival Bell Lightbox on Saturday.
The film made its world debut at the Vancouver International Film Festival last fall, earning Bohdanowicz the award for Best Emerging Canadian Director, and called “the greatest discovery” of the programme by film curation service MUBI.
Never Eat Alone was preceded by Bohdanowicz’s trilogy of short films – Modlitwa (‘A Prayer’), Wieczór (‘An Evening’), and Dalsza Modlitwa (‘Another Prayer’).
Bohdanowicz first found interest in filmmaking at age 13, after developing the habit of filming presentations for class in advance, so as to “remove some of the variables beyond my control.” After transitioning to artistic filmmaking, Bohdanowicz focused on the “elderly matriarchs” and their roles within families, to tell stories aside from those “built on male voices.”
The three short films are, “a trilogy that focuses on my relationship with my paternal grandmother before and after her passing,” says Bohdanowicz. “But they are also based on my great-grandmother’s poetry.” Never Eat Alone changes focus to her maternal grandmother, “exploring a past love that she had when she was 20, and her regret for not marrying him.”
The docu-drama features Bohdanowicz’s grandmother Joan Benec and actress Deragh Campbell as Joan’s granddaughter.
“I cast [Campbell] as the granddaughter because I think she has a strong ability to be very natural and candid,” says Bohdanowicz. “And in her interactions, she doesn’t feel forced.” Screening attendee and a student of Bohdanowicz’s Introduction to Editing course at Humber College, John Borst says Campbell’s presence was “so natural. You could have fooled me.”
Some of the material from Bohdanowicz’s course could also be found in the film.
“The coloration of the different rooms was fascinating,” says Borst. “We are learning the philosophy, theory, and practice of editing.”
Bohdanowicz also finds her involvement in the course rewarding in a different way.
“I love being in the classroom. I find it to be really inspiring,” she says.
Beyond the practical parts of editing, Bohdanowicz also imparts her film wisdom and experience to her students.
“I don’t make films with a lot of money. I’ve also learned a lot of the tricks of the trade so I can do a lot of the labour myself,” she says. “Learn as much as you can about every step of the process.”
Bohdanowicz’s next film, Maison du bonheur, follows a Parisian astrologer through their daily life while living in the same apartment for over 50 years. It is expected to be premiered this year.