By Claire Miglionico
CALGARY — The Alberta Spirit series is a fantastic opportunity to showcase local filmmakers who have been carefully selected to show their homebred films at the Calgary International Film Festival. That said, there is something extremely refreshing about Jaimie Stewart and Voytek Jarmula – two clearly dedicated Alberta filmmakers who are drawn to capturing others’ passions on camera.
We caught up with Stewart and Jarmula to talk Stephen Hair In Passion, one of the shorts in the Alberta Spirit series depicting local theatre actor Stephen Hair, who is best known for his role of Scrooge in the theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” – a part he has been playing for the past 20 years.
“Stephen Hair is such a kind and understanding man and we were fascinated at how he could play such an iconic and mean-spirited character for so many years,” says Jarmula.
“As we met with Stephen and spoke with him, we realized [he had] the richness and passion we were looking for,” says Stewart.
Stewart, who is the founder of production company Beautiful World Media Inc. says that for as long as he could remember, he was drawn to the idea of showcasing uplifting and inspiring content to help people feel the value and purpose in their lives.
Jarmula says that their hope for Stephen Hair In Passion is that viewers feel encouraged about their own journey in life. “We don’t have to be discouraged by our present,” he writes, “but instead we can keep looking for opportunities to be led by our hearts and discover and enjoy activities that make us feel so unquestioningly purposeful and filled with passion.”
Another such Calgary-based documentary filmmaker is Dominique Keller, who has a passion for storytelling. She has directed both on the local and international fronts and has experience with travel and sports directing.
For her short, Grandma Learns to Drive, Keller spent quality time with her grandparents. That’s because the 12-minute documentary was inspired by Keller’s grandmother’s biggest regret in life: not knowing how to drive.
But at 86 years young, Keller’s grandmother, Therese Fournier, was determined to get her license, despite a language barrier and her biggest obstacle – Keller’s grandfather.
“He really did not want to see my grandma get behind the wheel!” says Keller.
“As a documentary filmmaker,” says Keller, “I get to live a little piece of many different people’s lives. It’s an opportunity to spend a good chunk of quality time with someone and the chance to live a little bit in their world.
“Grandma Learns to Drive is a funny and inspiring film. I hope that my grandmother’s story will motivate others to go after some of their old forgotten dreams. Expect a good laugh and maybe even a tear or two.”
Catch Grandma Learns To Drive, Stephen Hair In Passion and eight more short films at Theatre Junction GRAND Sept. 25, 5:30 p.m.AB, Alberta, Alberta short film, Alberta Spirit, Alberta Spirit showcase, Calgary International Film Festival, CIFF 2016, Globe Cinema, Grandma Learns To Drive, People in Passion, short film CIFF, Stephen Hair In Passion, Theatre Junction GRAND