Odeon premiers SFU grad's film

Mar 20, 2003, vol. 26, no. 6
By Carol Thorbes

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Deciding to follow his creative heart has catapulted Keith Behrman (left) into a limelight that many independent filmmakers only dream of attaining.

Will it fade or will it grow?

The 1993 Simon Fraser University film grad is unruffled by that uncertainty as he awaits Odeon Films' opening of his first feature film in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto theatres on March 28.

Flower and Garnet, a penetrating $2 million budget drama about a brother's and sister's dysfunctional relationship with their father, has garnered a string of awards and run at film festivals in Canada and Berlin.

At the Genies, Behrman recently snagged the Claude Jutra award, that recognizes outstanding achievement by a Canadian director in his first theatrical film.

A panel of Canadian filmmakers and critics at the Toronto Film Festival also selected Flower and Garnet as one of Canada's top 10 films in 2002.

“I know marketing concerns and what distributors perceive to be box-office friendly projects will influence my ability to make a film and get it out to the world,” says the film writer and director. “But I don't make films in order to have box-office hits.”

That will not stop dozens of film undergrads in SFU's school for the contemporary arts from packing a room on March 25 to hear their rising star offer pearls of wisdom.

Behrman and his producer, Trish Dolman from Screen Siren Pictures, will recount his rise from film student to award winning feature filmmaker.

The once aspiring novelist is keenly aware of the importance of a strong script, government and industry funding and exposure at film festivals in securing distributors and getting screen time in mainstream theatres.

In the end, though, it is a very personal goal that drives his work.

“I don't have any particular agenda or see myself as a certain type of filmmaker,” confides Behrman, who has created three short films, four music videos and directed a TV episode of Da Vinci's inquest. “My films are about the human desire to bridge the gap between our inner reality and the external world around us, to connect on a deeper level with others.”

Originally from Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, Behrman draws on his experiences as a lonely and often-out-of-step youth in a small farming community, to breathe life into his characters.

Poignant facial close-ups and singular details in their environment tell their story more than dialogue.

Behrman says his film has been received positively because the world of his characters “is rendered through observation rather than spelled out. This allows viewers to formulate their own impressions and conclusions. I think viewers are offered a deeper experience than usual.”

Behrman credits his education about film as a cultural and art form, and not just a technical medium, at SFU with helping him to understand what makes a compelling movie.

Call 604-291-5100 to reserve a seat at Behrman's presentation, which will be at 7 p.m., in room 7000 at Harbour Centre campus.

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