Interview: Heather Taylor Returns to E-Town for EIFF

Heather Taylor returns to E-Town for EIFF
By Agnieszka Kucharska, Arts & Entertainment Writer
Interview appears in The Gateway, 23 September, 2009.

When the Edmonton International Film Festival begins, Heather Taylor will be returning to her hometown for the screening of her two latest films: Wild West Dream and The Last Thakur.

“I was so excited,”Taylor exclaims, “because it’s the first time that any films that I’ve made have been shown in Edmonton […] When I got the first one in, I was like ‘that’s really amazing’ and then when I got two in, I just thought, ‘I’ll never have this chance to go and see two of my films in the same place.’ ”

The short documentary Wild West Dream is the unusual story of an Irish cowboy that actively participates in rodeo competitions in Europe, and dreams of competing in North America one day. As someone who grew up in Edmonton where rodeo culture has a strong presence, Taylor, was still tickled at finding a European cowboy.

“[It’s] just so fascinating that someone in a culture so removed from this cowboy culture would be so into it — so much so that he’s now competing in rodeos.”

The story of this man trying to live his dream has inspired Taylor in extending this documentary.

“We want to bring him to Edmonton, to Alberta, and have him go the cowboy trail and work with cowboys and ranchers, and experience the life [and] see what he thinks, see if this is really the life he wants.”

Her other film, The Last Thakur, a film collaboration between the U.K. and Bangladesh, unfolds the tale of a man named Kala, who arrives in Doulthapur, and gets caught in the middle of a quarrelling community. Set in Bangladesh with Bengali as the spoken language, the film is “the first Bengali western that’s ever been made,” she says.

“I do believe that being from Alberta and having [known] that influence [of western culture] and working in the community within film […] really helped me in making it feel authentic,” says Taylor, who helped write the film’s script.

“What was interesting is that they translated it to Bengali and then they translated it back into English subtitles. So the subtitles are not the lines I’ve written, [they] aren’t necessary there or completely there.”

But despite this being a strange collaboration, Taylor says that the pull of exploring other cultures in unusual settings is, and continues to be, a huge draw for her.

“I love making films in other places, set in other places,” she says.

Taylor also has a few projects planned for the future that she’ll be focussing on once she finishes showing her films at the EIFF.

“[My next project is] a monster film. It’s about this monster coming back to a small town, and this father and son have to stop it from killing the town. It’s a shape-shifter and so only they know who it is. But what’s really cool is that, ‘well yeah, okay, it sounds like a monster movie’ but [what’s different is that] it’s set in the Midwest during the Depression. So it’s that time of desperation,” she describes.

Taylor goes on explaining that her grandma lived through the depression and told her about the difficulty of life during that time. For Taylor, this film shares her familiarity with the prairie ethos. She has also been discussing with her producer about having the movie set in Saskatchewan, because she wants to bring this new project to her home country.

“I think that a lot of Albertan artists and creators do a lot of work inside of Canada, but it’s never seen outside of Canada,” Taylor says. “I would love to have something that can be seen here, something that actually shows off Alberta [art].”