SWEAT, filmed on location at the NGB Warehouse on Cataraqui Street in Kingston’s Inner Harbour, is the result of more than two years of collaboration and hard work that the creators hope will be the first of many new local projects to come — and it debuts this coming weekend as part of the Kingston Canadian Film Festival (KCFF).
According to a media release, SWEAT brings together artists from Toronto, Alberta, BC, and Kingston to create a bold new film. “The film tells the story of a group of women working in the garment industry and sets their individual aspirations against the unrelenting demands of global capitalism,” the release reads.
Artistic Director of Bicycle Opera Project, Larissa Koniuk, and her husband, Geoffrey Sirett — who serves as music director for the company — moved to Kingston just before the start of the pandemic, so that Sirett could take over the reins of Cantabile Choirs from his father, Mark. According to the release, the pair has been working on the SWEAT film project for over two years, amid pandemic life with two young children.
“SWEAT marks our first production in Kingston. Bicycle Opera Project will be producing new theatre projects locally over the coming years, and we can’t wait to get to know new collaborators in our new home,” said Koniuk.
Bicycle Opera Project reunited many of the original cast from the 2017 production of the same name, and brought on new collaborators from the dance and film worlds. This included cinematographer Ash Tailor from Toronto, who captured “haunting and moving imagery,” said Koniuk.
“We were shocked by the quality of the picture we were seeing on the monitors,” she continued. “The film is moody and evocative and pulls at your heart strings.”
SWEAT will premiere at the Kingston Canadian Film Festival on Saturday, Mar. 4, 2023, at 3:30 p.m. at the Grand Theatre in the Regina Rosen Auditorium. According to the release, the film merges contemporary dance and operatic storytelling with evocative and striking imagery. SWEAT is written by composer Juliet Palmer and playwright Anna Chatterton.
According to the release, the film features an “impressive roster” of Canadian artists. Koniuk shared that, this week, the film’s dancer Miyeko Ferguson closed out the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Salome, where she dances the famous “Dance of the seven veils,” and mezzo-soprano Catherine Daniel, who plays the Overseer, just finished shows with Opera de Montréal, and will be making her Boston Lyric Opera debut in May, in Omar: a new opera by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels.
SWEAT marks the feature film directorial debut for Jennifer Nichols, who choreographed the 2017 touring production. Nichols has worked in film and television for a decade, in the capacity of choreographer – including head choreographer for Netflix’s Tiny Pretty Things – and reportedly tackled the challenges of adapting stage to screen head-on.
“Revisiting SWEAT through film after the stage was incredibly satisfying because the possibilities for storytelling are so broadened,” Nichols expressed. “There’s an intimacy the camera provides that gives the viewer a deeply nuanced, multifaceted perspective, which makes it so exciting choreographically. It allows you to sculpt a scene in a manner no other medium can.”
More information, including the cast and crew, can be found on the Bicycle Opera Project website.
For a full overview of this year’s festival offerings read our coverage on the 2023 Kingston Canadian Film Festival.