"powerful new film . . complex, emotional and artistically
challenging . . .a tour de force for Hicks" - John Griffin, Montreal Gazette
What began in the summer of 1999 - from an idea that we could just do it - stretched out through 2001. The shoot, the edit, the music, the edit, the mixing, the edit, the soundscape, the edit, the studio voice-over recording, the edit. Mostly Gord hard at work at that magic, tempermental thing, the G-4 computer.
Two years later, in summer of 2001, eighteen days after our final edit of Singing The Bones, our feature length motion picture was accepted for its world premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival. A world class, 'A' level festival! We made the cut!
Then, a flurry of creating marketing materials, with translations into French, press lists, printing photographs, travel planning. Two weeks in Montreal, we spoke French everyday and somehow edged out the films in competition for a big review from John Griffin, in the major English language paper THE GAZETTE. We shared the page with Sophia Loren, who was the festival's prize guest. John loved our film and gave us what many films never get: an excellent quote from a reputable source. (see above) The CBC also reviewed the piece:
"it's a poem, it'a painting, it's beautiful."
gushed Jeannette Kelly.
Friends Margaret Guzzi (Art Director) and Ben Low (Director of Photography) flew out to attend our world premiere at The Parisien Theatre in thriving, crowded, exciting Montreal! The first screening was excruciating -- would they like it? Would they walk out? I crouched at the back of the theatre post show, but was soon discovered, then crowded round with excited movie goers, fans! People talking about OUR FILM!!! Almost unbelievably -- LOVING our film!
Busy in the market daily trying to attract distributors, our film had what they call 'buzz' and we got offers from two distributors to release BONES theatrically in Canada -- Somewhere between the daily "Cinq à Sept" (the 5PM beer mixers at The Market) -- we discovered we were accepted to the Mill Valley International Film Festival (known as the Little Sundance in the industry) and then the Tahoe International Film Festival. Friends couriered us copies from the Vancouver Sun, where a huge article (with photographs!) was written about Singing The Bones and the issues it raises around women's choice in childbirth.
The world in North America changed on September 11th, and a few short weeks later we arrived at an empty Lake Tahoe, deserted resort town. The festival's big gala evening was cancelled due to lack of participation and only ten people were present for our U.S. premiere. Still all were moved by the presentation; hugged me, thanked us for our work. In Tahoe, we learned we'd been accepted to the Ojai Film Festival just outside Santa Barbara. We wouldn't be able to attend, as the dates conflicted with our Calgary booking and our GALA premiere.
Early October, at The Mill Valley Festival, SINGING THE BONES was SOLD OUT for its debut, and the audience, avid film-goers, when asked if there were any questions said, "I think we all just need to take a moment here." Then spirited discussion into the night about the universal aspects to the story, how it resonates in our post-September llth world.
In this "Hollywood North/Little Sundance" festival, we partied with Sean Penn and William H. Macy and directors Todd Field (In the Bedroom) and Rob Nilsson, (Cannes-winning director of Northern Lights). Rubbed elbows with Ishmael Merchant, Jonathan Winters. Spoke french with Robin Williams - and my french was better than his.
The festival review, was again, proof that we had fulfilled our intention:
"In a deeply layered and visually arresting production by Gordon Halloran, employing his camera as almost another character in the drama, the interlocking tales of three women become a single narrative that is not just a woman's story, but an unforgettable window into the human experience." - D Quinones
In Calgary for our first public screening, the weekend before Halloween, we received a standing ovation! Outside, it was snowing.