Be Still takes place in 19th century BC and delves into the mind of an artist whose shattering grief leads to the creation of striking new artforms. All but erased from history, 40 years before Dali and the Surrealist movement began, professional Canadian photographer Hannah Maynard was perfecting surrealist art techniques in her Victoria, BC studio. The film, which took 17 years to make, is a work of passion and dedication from filmmaker Elizabeth Lazebnik. With 15 short films and three TIFF premieres, Be Still is Lazebnik’s debut feature in which she brings Maynard back to life to be recognized for her contribution to the arts and Canadian history.

The film includes an exceptional lead performance by Piercey Dalton, who is known for her leading roles in Netflix Original The Open House and as Louise Lynch alongside Vincent D’Onofrio’s in the CBS All Access series Interrogation. Be Still also stars: Daniel Arnold (When Calls the Heart), James McDougall (The Handmaid’s Tale), Sophie Merasty, Amber Tyler (Unspeakable) and Meredith Hama-Brown.

It’s the late 19th century in sleepy Victoria, BC, 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.

The BC production was filmed in and around Vancouver, Delta, Langley and North Vancouver. Be Still was created from a mostly female team and was a part of the Telefilm Talent To Watch program. Development support was provided through the Women in Director’s Chair (WIDC) and production support came through Telefilm’s Talent Fund, Canada Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council. The film was written and directed by Elizabeth Lazebnik, produced by Sara Blake of Ceroma Films, production design by Sophie Jarvis, and director of photography Suzanne Friesen.

Be Still will be streaming virtually on VIFF connect from October 1st and will have two in-theatre screenings at the VIFF Centre – Vancity Theatre on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 6:30 PM and Friday, October 8, 2021 at 4:30 PM.

Tickets / Trailer / Images

ABOUT CEROMA FILMS Ceroma Films is a boutique production company making critically acclaimed, award-winning content for Canadian and global audiences, focusing primarily on debut director-driven arthouse content that is fresh and unexpected. Their hands-on approach to production is a collaborative and transparent one – always true to our values-based roots.

Ceroma Films was founded by Sara Blake after making the leap from shorts to features in 2018. Sara’s producing credits include feature film Raf (TIFF 2019), Be Still (VIFF 2021) and a collection of shorts: Award Winning Deady Freddy, Vimeo Staff Pick Cosmic (Palm Springs 2020), Loretta’s Flowers and Medical Drama.

Sara was a nominee for the 2019 CMPA Kevin Tierney Emerging Producer Award and is part of the Banff Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media. Sara is in post-production on the feature film Invasions, and is in development on Perigean Tide and Eddie.

For interview requests, screeners and more information, please contact:

Media Inquiries: Nicola Pender, Pender PR
m: 604.617.4807 / nicola@penderpr.com
penderpr.com / @penderpr

VIFF 2021 review: Be Still

Look, I just had surgery a few days ago. I’m still all doped up, quite legitimately, but I’m still going to give some impressions on VIFF fare this week. These may not be the most cogent reviews I’ve ever written! First one up is Be Still, a BC-shot film about Victoria surrealist photographer Hannah Maynard, as played above by Piercey Dalton;

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VIFF – BC Best Emerging Filmmaker Award

An honourable mention for the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at VIFF

“Elizabeth Lazebnik’s impressive directorial debut skillfully wraps the viewer into the claustrophobic, grief-stricken world of surrealist photographer, Hannah Maynard. Strong performances, unique camerawork and an eerie soundscape imbues this well-crafted first feature.”

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