The Birdwatcher is set to make its world debut at the Whistler Film Festival Dec. 3, but lead actress Camille Sullivan has already taken a sneak peak.
“I just watched it a week ago with my husband at home,” the Vancouver actress said. “I cried a lot and he cried a lot.”
Chances are you might cry a lot too — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Sullivan said. The film is about a woman with terminal cancer who seeks out her birth mother on her quest to find someone to care for her two children after she’s gone.
“I think this one has a lot of heart,” she said. “If that’s something that appeals to people they’ll like this movie.”
For her, the appeal of the role was the deep emotions in which the film is steeped. “It is sad and one that people will be likely to cry at, which I don’t mind. I like that in a movie,” Sullivan said. “It’s this deep story about these complex women — three generations of women. I thought that was really unusual. It’s a story about families and connections with people and life and death.”
Her character, Saffron, is equally complex. To prepare for the role Sullivan said she spent time online looking at support groups both for people with cancer and those searching for their birth parents. “I also read more medical stuff to find out physically what would be happening — and I lost a bit of weight,” she said. “I also spoke to a few people. A woman on the crew had that experience — she met her birth mother. She was only on set for one day, so it was serendipitous (that we met).”
“Being tired and cold all the time was challenging, but having the kids there — they’re so much fun. I enjoyed myself.”
Shooting the film — which wrapped up last year — was both physically and emotionally draining, she added. “Being tired and cold all the time was challenging,” she said. “But having the kids (who play her children in the film) there — they’re so much fun. I enjoyed myself.”
Sullivan — who has a long list of film and TV credits to her name, ranging from Rookie Blue to Flashpoint and The Killing — is no stranger to the WFF.
She first attended in 2013 when a film she was in called Ice Soldiers was screening. Last year, she returned for the thriller Ally Was Screaming, during which the festival named her a Rising Star.
“It’s such a welcoming festival,” Sullivan said. “That’s what struck me; how nice everyone was… I think (the honour) does help. I got press out of it. I met a lot of people. I got my photo taken a lot. People need to be reminded all the time that you’re there.”
For her third year at the festival she plans to do things a little differently. “I’m going to try to do more,” she said. “I tend to go out in the evenings and do the parties. I’m not a skier, but I’m going to try to get out more in the snow — and go to the spa.”
Catch The Birdwatcher at Millennium Place theatre on Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. and on Dec. 6 at 9 p.m.
For tickets and to learn more about all of the WFF’s films and events head to whistlerfilmfestival.com.