’Freya,’ ‘Alligator,’ ‘In the Heart of the South,’ – Variety

Montreal’s Frontières, the industry arm of Canada’s Fantasia Film Festival, has announced its winners. 

In the official selection, “Freya” proved unbeatable, taking home the Post-Production Award by PurpleDOG Post worth CAD$10,000 ($7,576). The same award – and CAD$5,000 ($3,788)  – was also given to Forum’s “In the Heart of the South” and Genre Film Lab’s “Alligator.”

The Pitch Deck Award, offered by The Film Deck, went to “Animal Realm,” presented in the Shorts to Features section. 

“We are extremely grateful to PurpleDOG Post and The Film Deck for supporting us with the awards this year. Our plan is to continue doing it and hopefully grow, by partnering up with the companies that can support filmmakers in their production process,” Annick Mahnert, Frontières executive director, told Variety.

“Each of these projects has a specific identity and they are all extremely original. I know they didn’t have an easy job selecting the awardees.”

Rhona Rees’ “Freya” – currently in development – is set in the future when abortion is completely illegal. Its protagonist, Jade, is tricked into getting pregnant. Caught buying black market abortion pills, she is thrown into a conversion therapy jail for pregnant women.

Courtesy of Frontières

The story has won a pitching competition in 2022 for an AACTA development grant in association with Monster Pictures, with the latter providing a letter of intent for Australian and New Zealand distribution.

“We are in talks with Screen Australia,” said Rees, calling her project a “dark imagining of a truly pro-birth future.”

“It challenges our relationship with AI, personal data and government control through a narrative that society needs right now: a perfectly healthy and capable woman who loves kids, but doesn’t want a baby of her own,” she added.   

Hayley Gray’s “Alligator,” eyeing a 2024 shoot, also takes on some timely issues while focusing on Grace, a cheerleader for the Alligators professional football team, who takes revenge into her own hands following an attempted assault. 

“I read an article about the Washington Commander’s cheer team and how they were coerced into a nude photoshoot with spectators. I immediately related [to it]. Within the entertainment industry, whether it’s sports or film, women are told they have to say ‘yes,’” said Grey. 

In the film, Grace goes on a killing spree, also remembering what was done to her mother in the past.

“What do you do when your dream is on the line and you have to choose? ‘Alligator’ is a wild reimagining inspired by the lives and experiences of cheerleaders in professional football.”

Canada’s High Deaf Productions is on board. 

Courtesy of Frontières

Also from Canada, Nyla Innuksuk’s psychological thriller “In the Heart of the South” takes a look at Yura Ivalu, living far from the isolated community in Nunavut where she was born. She has often felt stuck in-between two worlds, but she decides to draw inspiration from her Inuk identity while creating new artwork.

“This is a very personal film, having been inspired in part by my experiences as a mixed-race Indigenous woman and filmmaker,” stated Innuksuk, who co-wrote the script with Ryan Cavan during the summer of 2020, “in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the resulting conversations about race.”

“One of the anxieties I was struggling with was how to create work that could represent me as an individual and further the goals of the larger Indigenous screen community. For years my colleagues and I have been advocating for our right to tell our stories, and that summer it seemed like the rest of the world started to use our language.” 

Sphere Media Productions and Mixtape VR Inc. produce.

Any recognizable reality will be left behind in stop-motion martial arts film “Animal Realm,” however, produced by Kytoon Studio and directed by CaoCong Maing. Where overreliance on technology has destroyed civilization and all that’s left is ruthless survival instinct.

“Innermost,” the first story set within the same universe, premiered at Fantasia.

“There are more and more projects anchored in our (sad) reality. But even though most of them discuss very serious topics, I sensed there was also a lot of humor,” summed up Mahnert. 

“I am extremely happy that so many diverse voices submitted to the market this year.” 

“Animal Realm”
Courtesy of Frontières

You can find the list of all the Frontières projects here.

’Freya,’ ‘Alligator,’ ‘In the Heart of the South,’ – Variety

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