A new feature by Fredericton-based director tackles climate change and space travel.
Jillian Acreman’s film, Queen of the Andes, screened at the Playhouse on Nov. 5, 2021.
Acreman has been making films since 2009. She known in the Fredericton film and arts community as a director and an instructor at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.
Queen of the Andes was financed through the competitive Telefilm Talent to Watch program and received support from New Brunswick’s provincial government.
The film has garnered much attention for Acreman, since it is her first feature. At the February 2021 Victoria Film Festival, the film won Best Canadian First Feature. It has also screened recently at a festival in Spain.
Set in the near future when governments are colonizing Mars, the film centers around a character chosen as a colonizer by a company called Gen One, and their struggle to come to terms with the possibility of having to leave their loved ones.
Nova Scotia actress Breagh MacNeil plays Pillar, the main role, in the film. MacNeil’s youthful appearance inherently feeds the inner turmoil the character undergoes in the film, despite their position as a up-and-coming biologist in a university lab.
Acreman’s choice of actress was a wise one. For her first film role in the award-winning film Werewolf, MacNeil received multiple previous nominations and wins for Best Actress at various Canadian film festivals.
Hailey Chown plays Pillar’s partner, Arrow, who is an anti-colonization activist in the film. Chown is originally from Saint John, New Brunswick.
Rounding out the cast are a variety of local actors. Notable in their roles are Jason K. Roy, who plays a detestable administrator of the colonization process, the excellent Cassidy Ingersoll in the role of Pillar’s sister Lindy, Ryan Griffith as the dodgy lawyer who helps Pillar try to get out of her assignment, and Doug Sutherland, playing Pillar’s father.
The science fiction film skillfully brings together themes that are especially relevant to recent news cycles, including space travel, climate change’s effects on the environment, movements to return to the land.
The film was almost entirely made in New Brunswick except for one scene captured on Prince Edward Island.
During the screening question and answer period at the Playhouse, director Acreman was joined onscreen with a handful of her authors. She told the enthusiastic spectators she was overjoyed to see her film with a live audience after five long years of hard work.
The Silver Wave Film Festival is being held in Fredericton from Nov. 4-11, 2021. For more information and a complete schedule, see the Facebook event page.
Sophie M. Lavoie is an editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op.