Vancouver Island-based feature film will premiere at Victoria Film Festival 2021

Watch The Victoria Film Festival is back next month and joining the line up this year is a feature film shot on Vancouver Island. Jasmine Bala takes us behind the scenes.

Director Arnold Lim has long dreamed of making a movie and now his wish has finally come true, right in his hometown.

All-in Madonna, Lim’s first feature film, will premiere at this year’s Victoria Film Festival.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity because really, this is home for me,” he said. “This is where I spent my teenage years and I learned all the filmmaking that I ever did.”

His passion for being behind the lens began when he was a teenager.

Lim would carry around a red backpack with a camera in it passed down to him from his father.

“I carried it everywhere. Everywhere I went, whether it was to the store, to the movie, or anywhere… I carried that red backpack because I didn’t know where that photo was going to be and I always wanted to be prepared,” he said.

Lim never imagined that 30 years later, he’d make a feature film.

All-in Madonna is about a bi-racial teenager named Madonna (Maddie), who learns some dark secrets about her father’s past and grapples with the reality of who he is. It’s set in a small, rural community called Blue Lake and filmed entirely on Vancouver Island. All-in Madonna is a blend of a coming-of-age tale and a murder mystery.

“Ninety per cent of our cast and crew are right here on Vancouver Island,” Lim said. “And it was really important for us to tell a story that was very hued and coloured and saturated with the colours of Vancouver Island.”

READ MORE: Victoria Film Festival launches first-ever online festival

All-in Madonna is in the Victoria Film Festival’s line up of 50 feature films and 23 shorts.

“[These] are films they don’t typically find available on Netflix or other streamers,” said Kathy Kay, director of the festival. “And they’re just thoughtful, wonderful, fun films.”

For the first time ever, this year’s festival is entirely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  People will be able to purchase single tickets to films for $8 plus tax, or an all-access subscription for $79 plus tax.

“It also allows people anywhere in B.C. to be able to buy tickets and get passes and see the films so we’ve been able to expand that,” said Kay.

The festival experience will still be there, she added, noting that many of the screenings will end with pre-taped Q&As with actors and filmmakers from all over the world.

“Over half of the films already have Q&As already set up,” she said, including one with actor Jason Isaacs, who is best known for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. He will be answering questions about his role in Skyfire.

All-in Madonna will also end with a Q&A with Lim, who says the festival is a huge opportunity for creatives like him.

“Often if we go to Netflix or often if we go to different streamers or the theatres, there’s big name films with big name stars, but all these stars got their start somewhere,” he explained. “All these cast and crew, they started somewhere.”

Independent film is where many like him get their start, he said, and events like the Victoria Film Festival shine a light on those films.

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Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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