David Bezmozgis already has a successful career as a documentary filmmaker and a fiction writer, but his dream has always been to direct a feature film.
“I went to film school with the intention that I would direct,” Bezmozgis told Metro. “But it’s tough to get a film produced, so I never knew if it would really happen.”
After launching a literary career with his wildly successful debut (Natasha And Other Stories, which earned a variety of accolades — including The Toronto Book Award — when it was released in 2004), Bezmozgis was finally able to secure the financing for his feature film debut Victoria Day.
The film is about Ben Spektor, a typical Toronto teen from the ’80s who is obsessed with hockey and classic ’60s rock. The story opens with Ben lending money to a friend to buy drugs at a concert, only to see that friend disappear afterwards. We then follow Ben through the difficult week that ensues and see him come of age amongst his family and friends.
For Bezmozgis, the reason for exploring this material was to create a realistic portrayal of the adolescent experience.
“For the most part, movies made about teenagers are pretty simplistic and borderline stupid. I wanted to do something about this period of life that felt authentic,” said Bezmozgis. “I think there’s room in storytelling and in filmmaking to tell stories about teenagers that feel real and express the exuberance and awkwardness of teenage life.”
Shot entirely on location and featuring a collection of actors cast for their look and ability rather than their recognizable names, Victoria Day continues Bezmozgis interest in telling stories routed in the simple reality of daily life.
“I just think there’s so much about life that’s fascinating to me,” he said. “To try and render artistically on the page or on the screen those things about life that are baffling or amusing, that to me is always the challenge.”
Having finally made a fictional film, Bezmozgis has no plans to abandon documentaries or the printed word.
“It’s just a question of story. Each story is best told in a particular medium or a certain genre. I just want to go where my stories take me.”
• Victoria Day opens in theatres next Friday.