All-in Madonna, a coming-of-age tale mixed in with a murder mystery, is directed by Arnold Lim, who is a Saanich-based director and filmmaker, as well as the executive producer of Black Press Video Networks. The movie script is written by Susie Winters, and the two met when they both attended the University of Victoria. The full-length feature film, which premiered last month at the Whistler Film Festival, will be of particular interest to local film-lovers as part of this months’ Victoria Film Festival.
Although Lim didn’t write the screenplay, he sees a lot of his own experiences in the story.
Shot in Victoria and up Island with a predominantly Island cast and crew, the film follows Maddie (Melanie Rose Wilson), a 17-year-old girl living in a small rural town. She learns dark secrets about her father and has to reconcile herself with the man she thought she knew and who he may actually be.
“[She] has to go through a journey to really understand herself and where she stands in this small town and where her family stands,” Lim says. “A lot of it is about identity and the cyclical aspect of who we are and what that means.”
Lim spent his early teen years in the small town of Blue River, BC, where he was not so much “Arnold,” but “the gas station owner’s son,” or “the Korean kid.” Despite the culture shock after moving from Edmonton, he began some lifelong friendships there.
While at 13 he didn’t fully understand the idea of identity, he says it impacted his idea of how one’s family legacy impacts their children, “and that’s one of the themes in the film.”
The film was made through a Telefilm Talent to Watch grant worth $125,000 and a $25,000 BC Arts Council grant. A short, separately produced version of All-in Madonna, used as proof of concept in the two grant applications, is just finishing its festival circuit run.
Lim is humble, often deflecting credit for his own accomplishments and talents.
As he describes the dedication, commitment and passion of those involved in creating the film, it’s clear it could not have come together without people going the extra mile and believing in the project.
“Making a feature length film of any sort is a huge endeavour and really this film wasn’t built on anything other than the sweat equity of Vancouver Island artists,” Lim said.
“There’s no way you can make a film like this when you don’t have enough money if artists aren’t willing to hustle and put in their own time and energy far beyond what they’re paid … it’s a testament to the passion that artists have for making their art as well as supporting other artists.”