A young Regina filmmaker has been reassured she's on the right career path.

Kolbie Nessett and her film team took home three awards at the Living Skies Student Film Festival in Regina on March 5.

The festival pits student films from around the world against each other for a chance at recognition.  

Nessett's film Stigma won one third of the awards offered by the festival, including the Best of Saskatchewan Award, Viewer's Choice Award and Best Actor Award.

"I think it's just an affirmation that I'm going in the right direction. A lot of hard work is paying off right now and it's good to be noticed for that," she said. 

kolbie nessett living skies film festival march 12 2016

Kolbie Nessett, 22, is finishing her film degree at the University of Regina and hopes to keep working in the industry. (Nathan Bertram and Austin Grass)

Nessett, 22, is on the brink of completing her film studies program at the University of Regina. 

"I know that this is what I want to continue doing with my life."

Nessett said when she submitted the film, she didn't even know if it would get in. 

"I have submitted films in the past that have not gotten in, so for it to even be accepted and then win awards, I was actually shocked," she said.   

Filming Stigma

Nessett's film, Stigma, is about a woman who is struggling with society's expectations of women as natural caregivers. 

The main character has a baby but finds motherhood doesn't come easily to her. She struggles with being identified as a mother and a wife and with the loss of her own identity. She loses her sanity in the journey. 

abby thiessen living skies festival 2016

Abby Thiessen, who plays the main character in Stigma, won the Best Actor award at the festival. (Nathan Bertram and Austin Grass)

Nessett said she was inspired by the struggles women face every day. 

"I think as women, we go through struggles that aren't necessarily talked about a lot," Nessett said. 

"I just really wanted to be able to show people something where they could relate to it," she said, adding that she hopes her film helps open up dialogue about these struggles.

The film was produced in Regina as part of Nessett's film studies program using what Nessett called "zero-budget."

Kolbie nessett living skies film festival awards mar 12 2016

Nessett says filming and editing the piece was stressful, but the awards made all the hard work worthwhile. (Nathan Bertram and Austin Grass)


All the funding, after $500 provided by the school, came from donations of family and friends, plus a few fundraising events. 

A field near the University of Regina served as the location for one of the main scenes. A house in the city's Cathedral neighbourhood was also used. The 12-minute film took three days to film. 

Inspiration from previous winners

Nessett said she was inspired by filmmaker Candy Fox, who took home several awards at last year's festival for her film Backroads

"I remember watching and presenting Candy Fox's three awards and thinking, 'I want that to be me one day.' I did not expect it to be a year later."  

Fox went on to be recognized at the Toronto International Film Festival and was selected as one of Canada's top ten student films.

Next up, Nessett said she'll also be entering her film in other festivals.

KOLBIE NESSETT living skies film festival award winner march 12 2016

Kolbie Nessett and her team filmed Stigma in Regina over a period of three days in 2015. (Nathan Bertram and Austin Grass)

Living Skies Student Film Festival winners 2016:

  • Best of Saskatchewan: Stigma, directed by Kolbie Nessett (Saskatchewan).
  • Viewer's Choice: Stigma, directed by Kolbie Nessett (Saskatchewan).
  • Best Director: Discipline, directed by Christophe M. Saber (Switzerland).
  • Best Actor: Abby Thiessen in Stigma (Saskatchewan).
  • Best Cinematography: Mark Kelim for The Same Blood.
  • Best Fiction Film: Discipline, directed by Christophe M. Saber (Switzerland).
  • Best Documentary Film: Trash Card, directed by Wilberforce Muhzura (Uganda).
  • ​Best Experimental Film: Paris Bokeh, directed by Mia Dinaé (United States).
  • Best Animation Film: Blue Honey, directed by Constance Joliff (France).