Crazy8s: Director Luvia Petersen's short film "iDorothy" tackles after-death memory uploads

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      The world of 3-D printing is opening up all sorts of possibilities. But it’s only in the movies—at this point—where a widower can order up a living, breathing, talking facsimile of his deceased wife, complete with happy memories.

      That’s the premise of Vancouver director and actor Luvia Petersen’s intriguing new short film, "iDorothy", which takes place in the not too distant future.

      Written by Huelah Lander, it will be screened at Crazy8s, a Vancouver festival of six short films made within eight days.

      “If you upload a human being’s memories, are they them? Do you get all of them again?” Petersen asked in a phone interview with the Straight. “So that was something that we were interested in.”

      The two lead actors, multiple award winner Carmen Moore and Hiro Kanagawa, play Dorothy and Sal, respectively.

      Director Luvia Petersen pondered whether a person can really be re-created using only memories.

      Petersen said that working with these polished veterans made her feel like a 16-year-old kid who had just received her licence and was driving a Ferrari.

      “Casting is everything,” she declared.

      The film opens innocently enough but takes a disturbing turn in a dark and confined house full of secrets. The set itself almost serves as its own character, helping to set the mood for "iDorothy".

      “When I read Huelah’s script, I saw a generational story there,” Petersen said. “I saw my parents, I saw my grandparents, and I saw a story about how we get stuck in the ideas of who we’re supposed to be based on society’s expectations. And that’s certainly what happens to our two lead characters in 'iDorothy'. Both Sal and Dorothy are trapped in these ideas of who they’re supposed to be.”

      Petersen's producer came up with the title. It was intended to convey that it was really a science-fiction drama, even though it's grounded in the real world.

      In her mind, the character of Dorothy was printed using stem cells and DNA. And Petersen pointed out that it's actually possible today to use 3-D printing technology to create meat

      "They can actually do tissue," she said. "It's much closer than I care to even imagine."

      This year's Crazy8s filmmakers were chosen by a jury after submitting video pitches and getting a chance to develop their stories.

      Crazy8s receives ample support from B.C.’s film unions, Telefilm Canada, Creative B.C., and others linked to the industry.

      The co-executive director of the Crazy8s Film Society, Erin Mussolum, told the Straight that the festival was founded in 1999 and is really about the industry coming together to empower emerging filmmakers.

      First, applicants must present video pitches, which result in 40 filmmakers moving to the next step. The 12 finalists receive story mentorships before a jury selects the six who get to make their films. According to Mussolum, good storytelling is at the heart of the festival.

      “Those six are given a lot of different mentorship training, production support, and then, of course, industry support and casting support,” she said.

      Petersen quipped that there was no sleep for the Download Joy Productions creative team when it only had eight days to complete the film. The company also produced "Happiness", a short film that will premiere on Crave.

      In addition, Petersen had recurring roles on Continuum, Riverdale, and Ghost Wars.

      For "iDorothy", she kept the cast and crew as small as possible because of the pandemic. Rather than hire a third actor, she cast herself in a small role in the film.

      “I was able to jump in in front of the camera,” Petersen said. “Carmen and I finally got to work together as actors as well, so that was lots of fun.”

      Video: Check out some of the images that have appeared in Crazy8s-produced films over the past 21 years.