Just premiering last September at TIFF ’20, Canadian-made VIOLATION continued its Festival run at Sundance and next will premiere at SXSW in March. The Film is a collaboration between Writer-Producer-Directors Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli; Sims-Fewer also stars.
VIOLATION is a chilling and gruesome portrait of trust, loyalty, and sibling rivalry that pulls the audience through a dark vortex into a PTSD memory smash and untangles a sticky web of trauma and resentment.
In a film that transports itself seamlessly between recent past and present, the audience first meets Miriam (Sims-Fewer) and her partner Caleb (Obi Abili) as they drive to the rustic lakeside cottage property owned by Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe), who is married to Miriam’s sister Greta (Anna Maguire).
A sibling relationship that is outwardly loving and bonded by a shared British upbringing, soon reveals unspoken fractures, and bottled-up resentments that play out in the course of a profoundly troubled weekend.
Meanwhile, Dylan, the almost aggressively understanding and helpful brother-in-law, has another side that lies not far beneath the surface.
Pacific Northwest Pictures will release VIOLATION in Canada. You will be able to see it at home digitally as follows:
Exclusive Digital-Cinema Release Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox Begins March 19
Digital-Cinema Release VIFF Connect Virtual Theatre Begins March 26
Miriam (Madeleine Sims-Fewer) joins her husband, sister and brother-in-law Dylan (Jesse LaVercombe) on a relaxing trip to a lakeside cabin. As Miriam feels more isolated among the group, she seeks comfort in her friendship with Dylan. However, dynamics change when Miriam experiences an act of transgressive sexual assault. After carefully planning, Miriam embarks on a crusade to get revenge on her vicious assaulter.
Directing and Screenwriting Duo Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli create an enthralling Revenge Thriller, giving Canada representation at Sundance. Prior filmmakers have tackled the rape-revenge genre, but none have done it like this. Their story is rooted in documenting how acts of sexual violence happen more often from those we trust. That is part of the violation they focus on, which is a unique take on this genre.
Violation is a revenge tale with an intelligent lead. Miriam thoroughly plans exactly what she’s going to do and how she’ll get away with it. This creates a fortifying character who doesn’t solely act out of emotion, but also wit. Sims-Fewer and Mancinelli also root their brutal film in authenticity. Because Miriam is physically smaller than her attacker, each scene is seeping in suspense and fear that her plan may turn eerie. And their build-up leads to a pivotal scene where Miriam loses the upper-hand. This is something that would happen to people with their physical differences. Thus, creating a realistic take on the dynamic within this Thriller.
Their realistic gaze coincides with their ability to throw us into the physical and emotional challenges Miriam faces. We are thrust into her thirst for revenge by the filmmaking-duo’s camera work, which causes us to become disoriented. This places us in Miriam’s state-of-mind throughout. And this is where Violation stands-out: it has something to say about the destructive power that comes along with the most righteous of rages. They challenge the audience to question if Miriam’s gruesome acts of revenge are giving her the catharsis she’s searching for.
Sims-Fewer does triple duty by taking on the main role. She gives a fully committed performance as Miriam and displays all of her characters complexities. At times Miriam could be considered going too far in her desire for revenge. But Sims-Fewer steadies Miriam in her quest and constantly portrays dual emotions. She’s both fragile and strong, vengeful and remorseful. It’s a masterful performance.
Overall, Violation is more than just a gruesome and brutal Revenge Thriller. It has a complex lead character and something to say about warranted vengeance. It’s a must watch.
Violation screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: February 1 at 12 AM (EST)
On-demand (available for 24hrs): February 2 at 10 AM (EST)
Sundance is evolving for the 2021 festival and going predominantly virtual with limited drive-in screenings across the U.S. Although the festival is only running for seven days, its screening 71 Features, 50 Shorts, 4 Indie Series, and 14 New Frontier Projects. The Festival continues to include more diverse filmmaking voices. Of this year’s 139 films: 50% are directed by one or more women; 4% are directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 50% are directed by one or more artists of color, and 15% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+.
There is a lot of buzz surrounding many films screening at this year’s fest, and we are highly anticipating many of its feature film picks. Check out our Top Ten, in no particular order, programmes listed in parantheses.
Director & Screenwriter: Dash Shaw
>It’s rare Sundance includes an Animated Feature in their selection so we are expecting great things. It follows cryptokeepers who question if they should display or keep hidden the majestical beasts they find. The characters are voiced by Lake Bell, Michael Cera and Zoe Kazan just to name a few.
JOCKEY [U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION]
Director & Screenwriter: Clint Bentley
An ageing jockey in ill health attempts to win one more championship, but things turn upside down when a young jockey claims to be his son. This is Bentley’s first-feature as a director and his cast includes Clifton Collins Jr., Molly Parker and Moises Arias.
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH [PREMIERES]
Director & Co-Screenwriter: Shaka King
We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. It follows William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) who was offered a plea deal to infiltrate the Black Panther Party with the intent to gain intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). It has a powerhouse supporting cast consisting of Dominique Fishback, Jesse Plemons, Ashton Sanders and more.
This arrives February 12, 2021.
Director: Robin Wright (Variety’s 2021 Directors to Watch)
Wright makes her feature-film directorial debut and stars in this poignant story of a woman searching for meaning in the American wilderness, following an unfathomable event.
This will be released February 12, 2021.
ON THE COUNT OF THREE [U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION]
Director: Jerrod Carmichael
Sundance’s synopsis of Carmichael’s (The Carmichael Show) directorial feature debut is: “Two guns. Two best friends. And a pact to end their lives when the day is done.” It’s also got one killer cast: Carmichael, Christopher Abbott, Tiffany Haddish, J.B Smoove, Lavell Crawford and Henry Winkler.
PASSING [U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION]
Director & Screenwriter: Rebecca Hall
Based on the novella by Nella Larsen, this film follows two African American women who can “pass” as white and choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line in 1929 New York. It has a stellar cast consisting of Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga, André Holland, Alexander Skarsgård and Bill Camp.
PRISONERS OF A GHOSTLAND [PREMIERES]
Director: Sion Sono
Nicolas Cage and popular Japanese filmmaker Sono team up in this film that Cage has stated is his wildest yet. It follows a notorious criminal who is sent to rescue a woman who has disappeared into a dark supernatural universe.
SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) [U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION]
Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
This Film documents the Harlem Cultural Festival, which took place the same summer as Woodstock. The festival celebrated African-American music and culture and promoted Black pride and culture.
Co-Directors & Co-Screenwriters: Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli
Coming off the buzz from its TIFF premiere, this Canadian film is now travelling stateside. It follows Miriam (Sims-Fewer) whose quest for revenge is sparked when her sister and brother-in-law betray her.
A Canadian release has been confirmed for March 26, 2021 for this.
WILD INDIAN [U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION]
Director & Screenwriter: Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Variety’s 2021 Directors to Watch)
Years after covering up a savage murder of a schoolmate, two men confront how their secret has shaped their lives. It stars Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Jesse Eisenberg, Kate Bosworth, and more.
Although these films are geoblocked to the U.S, there are many free events happening virtually around the globe. Some of the events happening are: The Sundance Dailies, The Cinema Cafe, The Big Question, Awards Night and more.
Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2, 9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.
These take place every morning with Tabitha Jackson and others. Guests include: Eugenio Derbez (CODA), Rebecca Hall (Passing), Ed Helms (Together Together), Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein (How It Ends), and more.
Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m
These cultural conversations with fascinating subjects could go just anywhere. This year we have:
Shaka King & Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson Friday, January 29, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.