Featured image: Ella Ballentine as Jackie in Black Conflux. (Courtesy of Route 504 PR.)
As Toronto and Vancouver have always dominated the landscape of Canadian film, it’s great when a film can come out of a smaller space and thrive. That’s the case with Nicole Dorsey’s Black Conflux, filmed in September 2018 in Newfoundland, and releasing now three years later. It’s a coming-of-age story about a teen named Jackie (Ella Ballentine), navigating high school, trying out for the school choir and going through the anxieties of finding one’s place in the world. Meanwhile, alienated and disturbed loner Dennis (Ryan McDonald) tries to find his place, too, as their paths eventually intersect.
Dorsey’s film always stays in the dramatic lane, but how she explores Dennis’ psychology and his actions border closely to horror in portrayal, which is very interesting for such a unique look at growing up in a small town. Her film hooks from the opening notes and credits, as Ella Ballentine sings a rendition of Linda Perhacs’ Canadian folk song Hey, Who Really Cares? It’s haunting and sets the tone, and the lyrics really fit the story to a tee, too.
I was able to speak with writer/director Nicole Dorsey about Black Conflux over Zoom for the film’s release, which has just opened on Aug. 27 on demand in Canada, while also playing select theatres in Canada. In our interview, we talk about opening the film with the Linda Perhacs song, filming in Newfoundland, writing these characters, the casting and setting this in the 1980s.
You can find our conversation above on YouTube or listen to it directly below (or download here). As well, keep an eye out for an audio conversation with the film’s star Ella Ballentine which I’ll be posting later today.
*Podcast music courtesy of bensound.com