Out of the Dark and into the Spotlight: Ana Valine Shines with Sitting on the Edge of Marlene

Ana Valine

Ana Valine – Photo by Christine Buijs

Ana Valine has had a charmed run with her first feature film, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, a story about a less than charmed existence for young Sammie and her pill-popping con artist mother Marlene.

The screenplay, based on the Billie Livingston young adult novella The Trouble with Marlene won the 2011 Women in the Director’s Chair Feature Film Award valued at $120,000 in kind towards production. From there, Ana built momentum with a mentorship with world renowned director Denys Arcand and a script award at The Female Eye Film Festival.

***update: Sitting on the Edge of Marlene won the Women in Film + Television Artistic Merit Award at the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), as well as the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award, a $7,500 cash award + $10,000 credit for production equipment from William F White. Congrats!***

Throughout the lead up to production, she and producing partner Amber Ripley were able to bring aboard Telefilm Canada, the Harold Greenberg Fund, eOne and Super Channel with the help of Executive Producer Rob Merilees. Her own company, Rodeo Queen Pictures Inc, spearheaded the process and Foundation Pictures Inc. came on board to complete financing.

It seems like a charmed journey but Ana’s experience can best be summed up by the old adage, luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. That preparation came with three successful short films that caught the eye of Telefilm Canada and brought her to the Canadian Film Centre’s Director’s Lab; all that work prepared her for the ride that would become an incredibly successful debut film.

Marlene and Sammy - Photo by Bettina Strauss

Marlene and Sammy – Photo by Bettina Strauss

The Vancouver International Film Festival’s (VIFF) screening of Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is the film’s debut, but that doesn’t mean that director Valine has time to sit back and enjoy the experience. There’s too much going on for her to spend her time at VIFF in her favourite place, hunkered down in the darkness of the theatre for two weeks taking in the joys of independent film. No, this year is different on multiple fronts. As Ana says, “It’s nice to premiere here because this is where the film was born.” But that birth comes with added responsibilities that she hadn’t experienced on her successful short films.

In regards to the change this brings to her life, Valine says, “… you get your pass and my biggest job was scheduling films” but “when you graduate from a short to a feature the focus changes, then you have to juggle interviews and press.”

It doesn’t look like that pace will change any time soon. While Sitting on the Edge of Marlene debuts at home in Vancouver, the Busan International Film Festival will just be getting started in South Korea. The film will screen as part of the Flash Forward Program, a program designed to introduce non-Asian first time directors to the Asian market. Ana is most excited about the nomination the film has received. The award has a Korean name and when Director Valine asked what she was nominated for, she was told the translation was something to the effect of “audacious creative cinema as an art form”. Sitting on the Edge of Marlene is seen as an art house film in Korea, and the rookie feature film director considers it the highest of compliments.

Ana Valine at the Rio Theatre on September 28, 2014, before watching her friend Jason Bourque's BC film Black Fly.  - Photo: Katja De Bock

Ana Valine at the Rio Theatre on September 28, 2014, before watching her friend Jason Bourque’s BC film Black Fly. – Photo by Katja De Bock

Ana Valine will sit in a dark theatre in Vancouver and watch her film for the first time on the big screen. From there, she’ll go to Busan, see her film again, and then step back into the spotlight at a dinner for Canadian filmmakers at the Canadian Embassy. She describes the experience as being “Princess for a Week”, and she’ll love every minute of it, but make no mistake, Ana Valine is not a one film woman. When she comes home from The Busan International Film Festival, it’s back to work.

She has two films in development, a writing gig she needs to come home to focus on, and is busy filming and editing other projects. Somewhere in between all of this, there will probably be other screenings for Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, additional accolades, and many more spotlights to come.

If you’re a betting person, Ana Valine is one filmmaker you could bet on to have a long and fruitful career, even if it means she has to step out of the darkness of the theatre every once in a while to take that well-deserved bow in the Spotlight.

Be a part of celebrating a new talent on the Canadian film scene. Make sure you catch Ana Valine’s debut feature film, Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Sitting on the Edge of Marlene screens:
Oct 1st: Rio Theatre at 6:30 pm
Oct 3rd: International Village #9 at 3:30 pm

by Michelle Muldoon

Michelle Muldoon is a Board Member of Women in Film and Television Vancouver. She is a writer/director in pre-production on her first feature, Dead Fest. Michelle was recently named the first inductee into the Action On Film International Film Festival‘s Legend’s Society.

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