Cannes Film Festival
Short Film Corner 2021
On her 30th birthday, a woman's inner child runs away, chaos ensues. Because without an inner child, what is a person anyway?
Hi Alina, thanks for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange COVID times?
Overall, I would say I’ve embraced the uncertainty of these times and made the best of it while keeping safe. That being said, I’ve undoubtedly felt challenged by the circumstances, on a mental level. Being a writer has helped a lot, it’s an outlet that helps me make sense of the world. As has my dog, Mila. She’s a joy to watch.
Has this time offered you any new creative opportunities?
Definitely. When the world went into lockdown I began to write short, personal essays and send them out to a few dedicated friends and readers via a newsletter. I went inward and it allowed me to produce work without any boundaries.
As time went on, I went back to screenwriting. I started and finished a feature screenplay and I revisited older work.
The past year reminded me that being a writer is such a gift.
Congratulations on having Little Soul part of this year’s Short Film Corner, how does it feel to be able to present your short film at Cannes?
It’s humbling to be included. Back in 2009, I believe, I was an intern at the American Pavillion at the Film Festival de Cannes, and at the time I was a film student, I loved movies and I was so happy to be surrounded by others who did too. I couldn’t even have imagined one day having a short film that I wrote and directed at the festival, in any capacity. So, truly, this is humbling and encouraging.
Will there be any nerves ahead of the festival?
Not at all, the gratitude I feel is overwhelming enough!
What was the inspiration behind Little Soul?
Well, definitely my personal experience of having realized that I’ve lost my way. I realized that I was living in a way that felt so detached from myself, or my truth. It was such a surreal experience, which is why the film has an uncanny tone. I quickly realized that this happens to a lot of people, actually. I think that’s because in adulthood we are told what we should do, by society, as opposed to following the little voice inside of us that’s trying to give guidance. There are many labels for that voice - an angel, guide, spirit, soul, inner child - and so I set out to illustrate that incredibly intimate and personal relationship, in a way that could be seen and understood.
"...my preparation has also become more intense, I’ve learned about how I need to prepare to do the best job possible with what I have available to me."
How close did you keep to your screenplay once you started shooting?
In the screenplay, the story world is built out even further with more people in the scenes and their relationships to their little souls. In the short film, much of the tone and story world details are still honoured but for budget reasons, we had to pair down the volume of it. I worked with a very talented crew, and to be honest they saw the vision as soon as they read the script--it was magical.
What was the most challenging scene for you to film?
The water scene because, although we filmed in the summer, the water was shockingly chilly.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently on this film?
Wear a wetsuit. I’m joking! If we are looking back, and in this version of history I have even more resources, I would continue to build out the story world further. I’m still quite in love with it.
What has been the most important lesson you've taken away from making Little Soul?
Preparation is key, of course, but as is intuition during filming. LITTLE SOUL also affirmed that you’re only as good as your team of thinkers and makers. I’m grateful for my collaborators.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and I’ve always loved cinema. But I didn’t think I could be a filmmaker until about 2017. (Sometimes I still have doubts.) I grew up with my parents supporting my artistic sensibilities, but we were also newcomers to Canada so the focus was on staying grounded. There are many creative people and prolific art makers in my family, but nobody really understood that this was a space we could go into. Even after film school, I didn’t know this was a possibility for me. And to be honest, on some level, I’m still getting comfortable sitting in this space. I owe so much to my family’s and friends’ encouragement and acceptance.
How has your approach to your writing and directing changed since your debut short?
I follow my intuition during the writing and directing process even more. But my preparation has also become more intense, I’ve learned about how I need to prepare to do the best job possible with what I have available to me.
Now you can be reflective, what advice would you offer a fellow filmmaker?
Work just as feverishly to surround yourself with people who understand you and want to work with you, as you work on your craft.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?
That it’s not too late to reconnect with yourself and follow your joy, little or big.