Lost at Sea, Found Self

10 Jun

Photo by Mike Tompkins

It’s hard to imagine being lost at sea; powerless against the unwavering power of the ocean. Having been lucky to screen The Disappeared this past week, we have some more insight into what that could be like. The stark reality of nothing but the waves, the weather, with scant supplies, little food. Nothing to occupy your time but your thoughts. Mental survival almost seems scarier than the physical survival.

The Disappeared is a visually striking film – no doubt as it was shot entirely at sea. The ocean landscapes, the weather, the sky – beautiful and terrifying. The visuals take your breath away. (We know what a small budget the film had, and it`s so amazing to see that a little money doesn`t compromise a finished product – which speaks volume about the creative team and their ingenuity, led by writer/director Shandi Mitchell & DOP Christoher Porter.)

Shandi Mitchell has written a beautiful and honest story. It shouldn’t be something to marvel at, but Mitchell, a female writer/director has utterly captured these six men, and has written a tale about six fishermen lost at sea, something you wouldn’t expect from a Prairie girl and marvel we did. Shandi has much insight with male characters – something shown in her award-winning novel, Under This Unbroken Sky. She said so much with her carefully crafted words and limited but beautiful visuals. Limited in the sense that it is the ocean, two dories and six men. The Disappeared is not boring within these limits. Suspense, beauty, despair, discovery, hope, human connections, strength – all of this is felt in the movie. The film reminded us of Drive in the sense where there is so much said with carefully chosen words.

The six actors – Billy Campbell, Shawn Doyle, Brian Downey, Ryan Doucette, Gary Levert & Neil Matheson – deliver stunning performances. It is these six men, two dories and the ocean. What good fucking actors – they have brought this story alive. So much is conveyed with a hand placement or flash of the eye. You are with these men on this harrowing journey; willingly lost with them as they struggle with themseleves, each other, and rally against her. The ocean, the films’ sixth character, has a personality and seemingly has dialogue as she heaves and torments the men.

We may be biased, having worked on this film, but we’re also honest. It’s a lovely film,  and a film many people will be able to connect too. Over the centuries, many have been lost to the sea. Living on Canada’s East Coast this Maritime tale is a familiar one, and one familiar to many Coasts all over the world.

The lucky ones who return home have encountered something so few of us can comprehend, andThe Disappearedis a beautiful, thoughtful and harrowing discovery of it. We’re very fortunate to have had an early viewing – the rest of you will have to wait until fall.

And…as a quick aside and pat on the backs, it is  awesome seeing your names in movie credits! First time, big excitement.


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