YORKTON - Being a finalist for a major award at the Yorkton Film Festival is always a positive, says Colin Scheyen, director of Toxic Neighbour, which is one of five finalists for the Ruth Shaw Award (Best of Saskatchewan).
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” said Scheyen, adding the Yorkton festival has long been a favourite of his.
“I’ve always loved the Yorkton festival so much. It has been such a great supporter of my films in the past.”
Scheyen’s film Mum’s the Word was recipient of the inaugural edition of the Mental Health Award.
Scheyen said being a finalist for the Best of Saskatchewan Award is particularly gratifying given the significance of the award from such a well-respected festival, and because “there is such a great set of nominees.
So do awards from the festival help a filmmaker down the road?
“It definitely doesn’t hurt,” offered Scheyen, adding he was looking at his Mental Health category Golden Sheaf while doing the interview. “. . . It’s (the award) on my resume, and my CV.
“It brings a creditability to a film.”
Scheyen added that in the case of a Golden Sheaf from the Yorkton Film Festival might carry some extra value because it is such a long-running and respected event.
It certainly helps from the perspective of validating a filmmaker’s work, said Scheyen.
“It adds another feather in-my-cap as a filmmaker,” he said.
As for Toxic Neighbour, Scheyen explained it is a 25-minute film focusing on Ann and Eugene Bourgeois, who were sheep farmers living next to the largest nuclear complex in the world; the Bruce Nuclear Station in Ontario.
Scheyen said the Bourgeois' initially had no fears associated with their farm being so close to the nuclear plant, but when the plant was releasing hydrogen sulfide into the air in the 1980s and 1990s issues arose.
“It was all done in good faith,” said Scheyen, adding that it was anticipated the toxic gas would dissipate.
“But, that was not the case.”
As a result, the Bourgeois’ faced problems with their health and “last hundreds of their sheep,” said Scheyen.
However, it wasn’t until advancements in computer modelling developed that the couple were able to show how the gas had impacted their farm.
While the film of course focuses on that impact, Scheyen said it is more than that too. He said it is also a story about a couple “following what they believed in, caring about your family and your community, following a path of love and respect.”
The film is currently being taken to various festivals, but can be viewed in Yorkton during the YFF.
Other finalists are; Inside the Great Vaccine Race, Like Us, Wild Prairie Man and A Promise to My Son.
The YFF runs May 26 to 29, with the awards presented the evening of the 28th.