The debut feature-length film from a BC filmmaker is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September. Seagrass, from writer and director Meredith Hama-Brown, is largely set at a self-development retreat on Vancouver Island in the mid-1990s.
Seagrass follows a Japanese Canadian woman, Judith (Ally Maki, The Big Door Prize, Toy Story 4), who’s reeling after her mother’s death. She brings her husband Steve (Luke Roberts, Game of Thrones) and two daughters to a retreat where their relationships begin to fracture. Examining stability and uncertainty, Seagrass tackles tough questions of race, intergenerational trauma, motherhood, and family, grounding complex questions in a specific, intimate story.
Previously, Hama-Brown’s short film Broken Bunny won the Sea to Sky award at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2018, and her music video for Alaskan Tapes’ “And, We Disappear” was nominated for the 2020 Prism Prize.
“The Discovery section, which is curated by a brilliant team of international programmers, is an integral part of TIFF,” said TIFF lead Discovery programmer Dorota Lech in a statement. “It is a bold and exciting showcase of cinema and emerging talent from around the world, and we are honoured to highlight new and distinctive voices from artists creating their first or second feature on our global stage.”
Other Canadian films in the Discovery slate are D. W. Waterson’s Backspot (Toronto), Tautuktavuk (What We See) from Inuit directors Carol Kunnuk and Lucy Tulugarjuk, I Don’t Know Who You Are from the GTA’s M. H. Murray, and Fawzia Mirza’s The Queen of My Dreams.
Filming for Seagrass primarily took place on Gabriola Island, with rugged mountains, blue ocean, and verdant plantlife backdropping the deep emotional drama.
Other featured actors include Chris Pang (Crazy Rich Asians) and Sarah Gadon (North of Normal) as an enviable couple, and Remy Marthaller and Nyha Huang Breitkreuz as kids Stephanie and Emmy.
There is no word on Vancouver showings yet. Watch a clip below.