Strong presence for local talent at Edmonton International Film Fest

· The Pulse

The 36th Edmonton International Film Festival features 152 films from around the world, including a strong body of work from Edmontonians.

A few local films are still to be screened as part of the 10-day festival's Studio A track, which highlights Alberta filmmakers. Among them is Sara Campos-Silvius's second short film, Power Chord, as well as Kaden Peter Wilson's first film-fest entry, Hawk for a Handsaw, both of which are playing Sept. 29.

Nauzanin Knight is back at EIFF this year with two films: the animated short called Abu and Mo: Two Orphans and an "inversive romantic comedy" called ColorBlind, about a white supremacist who is temporarily blinded by laser-eye surgery and falls in love with a Black woman.

"I wanted to use humour to disarm audiences, in order to be able to engage in conversations about issues that I'm really passionate about," said Knight.

Previously, Knight has explored social issues through a documentary called Precarity, which addresses the experiences of temporary foreign workers in Alberta. Presenting the themes of ColorBlind in narrative form gave her a different way to get her point across.

"I think it really pushes audiences to get involved in the conversation and maybe puts them off guard a bit, in a way that that feels uncomfortable," Knight explained.

A Black woman catches a white man wearing dark glasses to stop him from falling

A scene from the trailer for ColorBlind, Nauzanin Knight's challenging romcom, is one of many films made by Edmonton creators to screen at the Edmonton International Film Festival. (Vimeo)

The element of ColorBlind that Knight expects will be controversial, and may require the comedic dressing to get people to engage with, is the message of forgiveness.

"The idea of forgiving someone who has had a past of hate is not really comfortable for a lot of folks," she said. "But the way that I see humanity, I genuinely believe that people can change and have to change in order for us to see the social progress that we want to see."

ColorBlind tackled problems of race and representation behind the scenes as well. Knight has long been advocating for more BIPOC women in the film industry, and more than half of the Edmonton-based cast and crew for the film was Black, Indigenous, or people of colour, with women in key leadership positions running the set.

"I'm really proud of my crew," she said. "And I think we were able to really do what we stand for in terms of representation behind and in front of the camera."

The Edmonton International Film Fest runs until Oct. 1 at Landmark Cinemas 9 City Centre. Studio A will showcase Indigenous stories on Sept. 30 to mark the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.