It’s the late 19th century in sleepy Victoria, British Columbia, and grief-stricken Hannah Maynard (Piercey Dalton) has found some solace in her art. Already a successful portrait photographer, she now sets about reinventing this burgeoning art form by investigating its more surreal possibilities, crafting macabre collages and uncanny self-portraits that capture multiple iterations of herself in a single image. Abandoning herself to a creative process that might easily be mistaken for madness, she’s soon visited by mirror images of herself, as well as her daughter’s ghost.
Channeling her own profound connection with Maynard’s work, Elizabeth Lazebnik conspires with cinematographer Suzanne Friesen to craft a monochromatic phantasmagoria in which the bounds of time, memory, and reality collapse. The result is a psychologically rich and uniquely immersive film that honours both its inspiration’s technical wizardry and personal anguish. Formally daring and deeply felt, Be Still imparts images and inspires sensations that linger long after the film’s closing shot has faded.
Piercey Dalton, Daniel Arnold, James McDougall, Sophie Merasty, Amber Tyler, Meredith Hama-Brown
Please note this film can only be viewed in Canada when streaming on VIFF Connect.
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Born in Latvia, Elizabeth Lazebnik migrated with her family to numerous countries before settling in Canada, where she has lived for the past 22 years. Lazebnik holds an MFA in Film Production from York University and has been making films for over 17 years, with screenings at the Toronto International Film Festival, Festival du nouveau cinema, Female Eye Film Festival, and Inside Out, among others. In 2017, she won the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Media Arts, administered by the Ontario Arts Council. Be Still, which is about the pioneer surrealist Canadian photographer Hannah Maynard, marks Lazebnik’s feature film debut.