‘Empathy in Filmmaking’ talk at Muskoka Place Gallery

By Matt Sitler

It’s an event you won’t want to miss.

This week locals are getting a unique, behind-the-scenes look at film making via two fantastic filmmakers with intimate Muskoka connections.

Speaking on Empathy in Storytelling at the Muskoka Place Gallery Thursday evening will be Annie Bradley and Gareth Seltzer.

Bradley, an alumna of the Sundance Film Festival and TIFF Talent Lab amongst other career highlights will be showing her seven minute short ‘Tongue Bully’ which premiered at Sundance in 2004 and opened the Dance on Camera film festival at the Lincoln Centre that same year.

“Empathy is such a huge part of film making and story telling,” she tells Muskoka News Watch. “It’s all about creating connection and is primarily one of the reasons why I’m an actor, (filmmaker) and writer. Being able to tell wonderful stories that connect people or allow them to share a mutual experience and feel something or express a point of view is so important. (Thursday evening) is really a coming together of two people who don’t really know each other, but who believe strongly in the art of story telling and how it can connect and bring people together.”

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Bradley (above) grew up in Walker’s Point and attended public schools in Glen Orchard, Bala and Port Carling before moving on to Gravenhurst High School. As a filmmaker, she enjoys shooting in other countries and stepping into the unknown, something that Tongue Bully, which was filmed in Cuba and showcases Trinidadian dancer and poet Learie McNicolls, amply provided her.

“It was like seeing Fred Astaire do rap poetry,” she says of seeing the short’s singular McNicholls performance for the first time prior to filming. “He’s such an elegant man and his body has been his voice for so long. It’s been his instrument.”

Shot against the backdrop of urban decay and McNicholls’ strong personal history, Bradley says the film’s setting married perfectly with its subject.

“His work, at that point in time was about coming to terms with your history and past,” she says. “Coming to terms with the legacy of your culture which follows you around in very heavy baggage.”

Following Thursday’s showing there’ll be a Q and A with the filmmakers.

“I want people to just experience the film and then we can have a discussion about it after,” says Bradley.

We won’t give too much away, but Bradley says empathy played a big role in crafting Tongue Bully, especially one of its most striking scenes.

“Part of empathy is respecting that I am in someone else’s house,” she explains. “If you are open to that and you connect with people and you respect them, you will get all kinds of unparalleled gifts.”

With many current projects on the go, one we may see materialize in Bradley’s future is a TV realization of Muskoka author Liam Dwyers ‘Murder in Muskoka’ novels, which she owns the rights to. She’s known the aging author for some time and this week’s trip home to Muskoka also includes a long awaited visit with him, she says.

As mentioned, Bradley is being joined at Thursday evening’s event by Gareth Seltzer, producer of the 2016 Oscar Nominated short film “Body Team 12”, a ground breaking film about the ebola outbreak in Liberia.

The talk/showing is free admission. You can RSVP by calling 705 765 1048 or do it online via eventbrite by clicking below:

https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/empathetic-storytelling-with-gareth-seltzer-annie-bradley-tickets-26733536728

(Feature photo of Bradley directing Tongue Bully in Cuba via Annie Bradley)