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Eve takes the prize at Sundance

Canadian filmmaker Julia Kwan won a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance International Film Festival over the weekend for her debut film, Eve and the Fire Horse.

The film, which I gave a mixed review on this week's podcast, deals with two Chinese-Canadian sisters who pursue different paths to faith, in an attempt to cure their family's supposed "bad luck." It's currently playing in a limited engagement at the Varsity.

Eve was the only Canadian film to make the International Competition at Sundance this year, so it's particularly gratifying to see it honoured. Kwan, who grew up in Vancouver but went to film school at Ryerson, has been doing press about the film all week, talking about her personal experiences growing up in Vancouver and how they lead her to write this particular story.

As of the weekend, Eve and the Fire Horse had not yet picked up an American distributor - which would guarantee a wider release and a significant chance of a return on the $2 million budget, which Kwan and her producers raised largely privately in Canada after the larger Canadian granting agencies failed to support the film.

Being a cautious character drama about faith and children (but not necessarily for children) will make Eve a tough sell for the mainstream American marketplace. Even the film's poster seems to know that, aping the colour palette and composition of the Whale Rider poster (another tough sell) as closely as possible. Nevertheless, the film has now been given an unexpected push to become one of Canada's stronger successes of 2006, both at home and abroad.


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