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Blackbird – Atlantic Film Festival
September 16, 2012

Director/writer Jason Buxton stood in front of a packed theatre last Sunday night and shared the good news. Just hours earlier, it was announced that his film, Blackbird, won Best Canadian First Feature Film at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Chester NS-based Buxton, joined by his adorable young daughter Sadie and producers Marc Almon and David Miller, revealed it took him four years to write the film’s script. The finished product, filmed in Halifax and Windsor, reveals the quality that comes from allowing a story of alienation, misperception and justice (or lack thereof) brew over time.

Blackbird tells the story of teenager Sean (Connor Jessup), garbed in spikes and pentacles, who becomes the target of bullying after moving from the big city to a small town. As an outlet for his anger, he writes a fictional tale of committing a mass shooting. Sean’s story is blown out of proportion so much so that he is left to deal with the unrelenting correctional and legal justice systems and given the nickname ‘Columbine’.

Blackbird is chilling to the core as it highlights the potential destruction brought on by an irrationally fearful segment of society, as in the groundless suspicions surrounding teens wearing trench coats or Muslim males boarding airplanes. The film’s theme of isolation comes in many forms, from solitary confinement at a youth detention centre to ‘relationships’ lacking emotional bonds.

Jessup, as well as Alexia Fast (playing the girl of Sean’s dreams) and Alex Ozerov (playing Sean’s tormentor in jail) deliver performances suggesting that long runs of successful movie roles lie in their future. (Ozerov’s unhinged godfather-esque delivery is particularly striking).

For 103 engaging minutes, Blackbird will allow you to explore the issues of both traditional and digital forms of alienation, as well as an imperfect justice system, mixed in with an unlikely romance and a thin silver lining.

Expect to see Blackbird released in theatres the end of November. ~ Michelle Brunet

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