Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia filmmaker Leah Johnston heads to Cannes Film Festival

Leah Johnston will be rubbing shoulders with industry executives when her short film is featured next month at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Her film Ingrid and the Black Hole will be highlighted in Telefilm's Not Short on Talent Program

Leah Johnston's film Ingrid and the Black Hole will be played at the Cannes Film Festival in France. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

It's a long way from Truro, N.S., to the resort town of Cannes on the French Riviera. 

But that's exactly where filmmaker Leah Johnston will be heading next month when she packs her bags for the Cannes Film Festival.

"It's going to be amazing, I'm really, really excited," said Johnston, 30, who is originally from Truro and now lives in Halifax. "Just to see what that whole festival is like and what it offers is going to be really interesting."

Johnston has a short film that will be highlighted in one of the divisions at the festival in Telefilm's Not Short on Talent Program.

Titled Ingrid and the Black Hole, the short film is about Alzheimer's disease and time travel. It was written and produced by Johnston and is based on her grandmother's life.

"My grandmother suffers from Alzheimer's and a couple of years ago I was one of her caretakers," said Johnston.

"Through that experience it kind of informed the concepts that I had already been working on for this film and I sort of had a eureka moment and it all kind of came together in this script."

Early start

Johnston got her professional acting start when she was 10 at Neptune Theatre in Halifax. She later graduated from a musical theatre program at New York University, and then turned her attention to behind the camera. 

Johnston won the $35,000 BravoFACT prize last year, and the funds helped pay for the filming of her project.

The money came at a critical time. Film fundng in Nova Scotia took a major hit last year when the provincial government cut the film tax credit.

"Now it's kind of a limbo time for me because I'd like to get into working features, but it's become a lot more difficult," said Johnston, who is the midst of writing her first feature film.

"When it comes time to actually make that feature film and produce it, that will become a question of where we are with our provincial financing, if it means I'm able to shoot it here or if I will have to go elsewhere."

Creature He

Johnston says writing, producing and directing are her favorite roles, but she's also acted in several of her own productions.

"I grew up acting, singing and dancing and what I love about filmmaking in particular is that I get to use all the things I've sort of dabbled in," she said.

"There's the element of acting and performance, from my photography days there's the visual aspect of framing a shot, so I feel with directing, I'm firing on all cylinders."

When she arrives in Cannes, Johnston says she will be pitching a new short film, Creature He.

Ingrid and the Black Hole will be showcased on May 18.


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