Jeremy Torrie is about to get his wish. The Corruption of Divine Providence, the film that Torrie wrote and directed, will have its Canada-wide release today, Tuesday, May 25. It will debut via video on demand and early electronic sell-through, distributed in English Canada via Vortex Media.
“I want everybody to be able to experience it because you can definitely say you’ve never seen anything like this before,” said Torrie, an Ojibwe from Wauzhushk Onigum First Nation in northwest Ontario.
“I didn’t make for it to be confusing. I wanted it to be entertaining. I wanted people to be immersed in the story and kind of be curious about this world and what’s going on and hopefully have it linger a little bit in their minds after they’ve finished watching.”
The film, set in St-Michel, a small bilingual community in Manitoba, features a teenaged girl named Jeanne Seraphin (Ali Skovbye), who is hospitalized following mysterious and massive amounts of bleeding.
Her story generates extensive interest from her local Catholic church, Dakota Elders and a Pentecostal preacher from the United States who all hope to use the teen to validate their own religious or spiritual beliefs and, for some, to boost their coffers.
A rocky relationship between Jeanne’s parents, and the fact her father is among those hoping to financially capitalize on his daughter’s attention-grabbing situation, creates further intrigue.
Despite numerous scenes involving blood, Torrie is adamant his film is not a horror.
“It’s more of a supernatural thriller,” he said.
People who watch the trailer and think they’re going to see horror should know they’re going to get something else.
“So that’s why it’s important for me in my message to say ‘if you’re looking for horror, this is not it.’ Certainly, (though) there are inspirations from The Exorcist and there are similarities there.”
Torrie said he was thrilled with the cast that was assembled for the film.
“For me there were so many highlights.”
Eugene Brave Rock, a stuntman whose first major film role was in Wonder Woman, is in the film in the role of Chief Bird. As is legendary Cree/Métis actress Tantoo Cardinal as Juniper Fairweather.
“What more can you say?” Torrie said of Cardinal. “She is a legend and she’s such a professional. It was a privilege and an honour to work with her. She’s just so good at what she does.”
The film was screened at the Nice International Film Festival and was nominated for six awards at that festival.
“I’m really fascinated to see what they’re going to think of this weird Canadian story where they talk French and sound like them but are totally different people,” Torrie said, adding winners of the Nice festival will be announced in a few weeks. “We’ll get the over-all reaction from that side of the world.”
Torrie’s film is one that has been in the works for a rather long time.
The Corruption of Divine Providence was workshopped at the Whistler International Film Festival back in 2016.
“At that point it was really trying to get it into shape to continue to refine the story,” Torrie said. “I had worked with a couple of different story editors over the years.”
Torrie said he’s been plugging away on this project for a considerably longer period, however.
“I started writing it 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s been a real passion project of mine but ironically some of the really interesting stuff has persisted from the very first draft, which I’m really happy about.”
Torrie also said some scenes that were shot didn’t end up making the final cut, a fact he is somewhat disappointed about.
“They kind of mixed around a little bit of the chronology which meant I had to leave a couple of really good lines and scenes out, which was unfortunate because I did want to have a little bit of humour in there as well,” he said. “But at the end of the day we are a collaborative process. You want to be able to satisfy the distributor, your funders, your broadcasters and everybody else.”
Though it took two decades to complete the film, Torrie said he always knew his project would one day be realized.
“I am particularly stubborn,” said Torrie, who now lives in Winnipeg. “I don’t like to quit on things. I knew I would see it through. It would just be a matter of time.”
He’s also hoping the film will help build bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
“I really hope that everybody will have a chance to see it,” he said. “And it will mean an awful lot to get some endorsements out of our own community.”
By Sam Laskaris, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com