Thunder Bay

Sleeping Giant, directed by rookie Andrew Cividino, to debut at Cannes Film Festival

Ontario-bred Andrew Cividino says he never dreamt he'd debut his first feature at the Cannes Film Festival. But the rookie writer/director now finds himself preparing for a trip to France's prestigious showcase where he will unspool his Lake Superior-set drama Sleeping Giant.

Thunder Bay-set film centres on 3 boys on cusp of adolescence who spend summer together

Ontario-bred Andrew Cividino is set to debut his first feature, Lake Superior-set teen drama Sleeping Giant, at the Cannes Film Festival. (Aaron Yeger/Handout/Canadian Press)

Ontario-bred Andrew Cividino says he never dreamt he'd debut his first feature at the Cannes Film Festival.

But the rookie writer/director now finds himself preparing for a trip to France's prestigious showcase where he will unspool his Lake Superior-set drama Sleeping Giant

The film centres on three boys on the cusp of adolescence who spend the summer together in Thunder Bay, Ont. It will screen as part of Critics' Week, a competitive program devoted to features by first- and second-time directors.

I was willing to follow these kids around, put them in scenarios and let things unfold in a more natural way and really try to capture authentic moments.- Andrew Cividino, Sleeping Giant director

"I'm stoked, it's just starting to set in," Cividino said Monday, stealing a moment from last-minute tweaks to his teen drama.

"I was in a McDonald's when I found out, eating a burger on my way down to finish the edit... I opened up my email and I read it and I just, like, screamed in the restaurant."

Improvised dialogue

Cividino says he hopes to help bring attention to "a great scene of emerging filmmakers" coming out of Canada, considering himself to be part of a vanguard of artists harnessing digital technologies and limited budgets to tell stories in new ways.

"One way to do that is definitely using more improvisation," says Cividino, whose film relies heavily on improvised dialogue from his teenage actors.

"If you have a really large production — and the apparatus of filmmaking is quite large — it's a bit like steering the Titanic and you aren't as agile. So the small budget means small crew, [and] a small crew is agile. So own that strength."

The film stars Jack Martin as Adam, a teen who spends his summer vacation with his parents on Lake Superior. While there, he befriends rambunctious cousins Riley and Nate, played by real-life cousins Nick Serino and Reece Moffett.

"I was willing to follow these kids around, put them in scenarios and let things unfold in a more natural way and really try to capture authentic moments," says Cividino, who found Serino through an ad on Kijiji. He notes that Serino and Moffett had never acted before.

Lots of support from fellow filmmaker friend

"There is a script for the feature, absolutely, but the kids were encouraged to bring their own voices into it and to workshop and to riff on things as we went through the filmmaking process."

Cividino joins fellow Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve on the Croisette, with the Quebec auteur bringing his movie Sicario to competition for the prestigious Palme d'Or award.

Cividino says he's getting lots of support from school pal Brandon Cronenberg — a.k.a. the son of David Cronenberg — who went to Cannes with his film Antiviral in 2012.

"He's been really supportive," says Cividino, who graduated from Ryerson University in 2006. "I do remember his stories after he got back and it sounds like a bit of a surreal place."

The Cannes Film Festival runs May 13 to 24.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.