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Wildhood, Nova Scotia

Wildhood, movie, image
Productuion still from Wildhood by Riley Smith. Used with permission.

Wildhood, Nova Scotia
by Staff

(August 19, 2020 – Toronto, ON) One of the hardest hit areas during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the film and television production industry. Unless it’s a solo animator working with a computer, film and television production takes people and often a lot of people.

One of the first film productions in Nova Scotia to start during the post-COVID lockdown is the Two-Spirit odyssey, Wildhood, which began principal photography on August 12. Being shot in English and Mi’kmaw, Wildhood is written and directed by Bretten Hannam and stars Phillip Lewitski, Joel Thomas Hynes, Michael Greyeyes, Joshua Odjick, Steve Lund and newcomer Avery Winters-Anthony.

Wildhood focuses on Link, who is like a snarling dog backed into a corner. At odds with everyone around him, his Mi’kmaw mother is dead, and his connection to his heritage has been lost. His white father, Arvin, is resentful of his existence and the racist boys in the trailer park are both dangerous and alluring. Link’s struggle comes to a head when he discovers his birth mother is still alive. In a desperate gamble to start a new life, he runs away with his half-brother Travis (10) to find her. Lost in their new-found freedom they’re joined by Pasmay (18), a Two-Spirit teenager drawn to Link’s pain. Together they travel down backroads and through reservations, avoiding Arvin and tackling whatever the road throws at them.

“I’ve carried this story with me for over a decade,” said Bretten Hannam. “It’s as much a part of me as my own heart. I’m excited to finally let it loose as we film among the forests, rivers, and all the land that we belong to.”

Start of principal photography was the next important step on the long journey of this project. It began in 2018 with Bretten Hannam’s short film Wildfire, which was one of five scripts selected for Whistler Film Festival’s 2017 Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship. It has played at multiple film festivals internationally. The feature film script for Wildhood won Telefilm’s 2018 Pitch This! at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Wildhood is produced by actor-turned-producer Gharrett Patrick Paon of Rebel Road Films (Wildfire, The Killing), with Julie Balassi (My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, Dim the Fluorescents) as producing partner and Damon D’Oliveira (The Grizzlies, Honey Bee, The Book of Negroes) as Executive Producer. Cinematography is by multi-award winner Guy Godfree (Giant Little OnesMaudie, Suck It Up), production design by Michael Pierson (Stage Mother, Werewolf), and costume design by Emlyn Murray (Terror in the Woods, Forgive Me, Drown the Lovers). 
Filming is taking place in Windsor, Nova Scotia and will run until September 16. It is scheduled for release in Spring, 2021. Wildhood received financial support from Telefilm Canada and the Canada Media Fund.