It’s sheer Bliss

Local actress Kate Smith and transplanted Kitchissippi native Amanda Sage are two artistic forces behind a new short film, Bliss, that recently made its local debut at the Ottawa International Film Festival.

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Bliss is the second film written and directed by Sage, who dabbles in a number of creative fields including writing and photography. After years spent applying for grants and coming up with nothing, Sage decided to go ahead with the film after a few budget conscious changes – like substituting a sandy, tropical beach for a frozen garlic field in Quebec.

The short film focuses on the troubled, emotional relationship between and a man and woman. “It started out as postcard moments, but then you find out they are not these idyllic, post card moments,” Sage says of the storyline. Without the luxury of a long run time, Sage says she chose to show only “snapshots of key moments” as opposed to showing everything.

For Smith, as an actress, the role was a departure from her usual work in live theatre, “Doing film is weird for me because it’s not chronological, and you have a chance to go back and do the same moment 15 times,” she says. With only two actors in the cast, and a story leaning heavily on Smith’s character, the film puts a spotlight on the actress as her character struggles with feelings of being hurt and confused.

“It’s a little intimidating to have to carry a story,” says Smith. “The process was really fun and really relaxed.”

With Sage on hand as a guide, Smith was able to overcome the challenges of performing in an unusual situation, “Working with Amanda was really cool because she had written the piece as well so she had a lot of insight into my character,” says Smith.

While she has done small roles in film before, in commercials and instructional films, this project was the first artistic work the Hintonburg actress has put to video.

After years in the ephemeral realm of theatre acting, Smith finds it difficult to sit back and watch herself perform, “I can’t watch the film, I can’t watch myself,” she laughs.

Bliss has been screened at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival and the Kingston Canadian Film Festival before coming home to make a local debut on October 4 at the Ottawa International Film Festival, an event now into its fifth year.

With her foray into film accomplished, Smith is focusing on her theatre career, both as an actress and as the artistic director for two local theatre companies, Salamander Theatre and Skeleton Key Theatre.

Salamander Theatre is currently running a series at Hintonburg’s Great Canadian Theatre Company as part of the GCTC Children’s Sunday Series. The periodic Sunday afternoon shows provide a theatre experience tailored for children and also include the local Rag and Bones puppet show.

“It’s nice to have family theatre in the neighbourhood, because there are so many young families in Hintonburg and the area,” says Smith.

Amanda Sage’s film earned some screen time at the Ottawa International Film Festival.

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