Empire of Dirt is the first feature film for producer/actor Jennifer Podemski.
The project has been in the works for the last eight years and she says it has been a labor of love. “I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, I just knew that I wanted to produce a feature film and I loved the multi-generational story of these three women. So I rolled up my sleeves and here we are 8 years later” said Podemski.
The film faces the issues of single motherhood, addictions and indigenous urban identity head on and full of grace. Podemski shares, “The reason I have not made a film prior to Empire of Dirt is that I wanted to make sure that my first feature film was done right. No compromises and little sacrifice.
It had to be the right story at the right time with the right people. I wanted to invest my time into a film with strong Native characters and a good, engaging, relatable story. A story that didn’t wear its culture on its sleeve but told a meaningful story with a strong Aboriginal perspective.”
Initial financing to produce the film fell through, leaving Podemski responsible for raising the capital to see the project through.
After raising only half as much as the film required, she decided to push through and complete the work on a smaller budget.
This was a labor of love for Podemski. She notes that “any storyteller or artist or entrepreneur can tell you that sometimes something greater takes over.
For me this whole experience was very spiritual. I was being guided by something greater. I was also driven to tell this story of women, we rarely hear about women much less aboriginal women.
We rarely see the story of teen moms or how middle class native families struggle with the legacy of residential school shame and anger.
I wanted to tell this story and I knew that sometimes the pain it takes to create something is well worth the joy it brings when it is made.”
The film is set for Canadian theatre release on November 22, but will be screened this Saturday at 9pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West as a part of the imagiNATIVE Film & Media Festival.