A Late Thaw

When Tara’s boyfriend presents her with the perfect house, memories of a lover who died years ago seep into her waking life.

It’s clear she must confront her past in order to move on, but can she?

Creative team

Writer/director/producer: Kim Barr
Producer: Kathy-Ann Thomas

Filmmaker’s statement

A Late Thaw is a poetic exploration of love, grief and hope. It’s based on the loss of my boyfriend in an ice climbing accident when I was 19.

The trauma of losing someone so suddenly is tricky; there are no goodbyes, no last words and no closure. There is nowhere to focus the tremendous rage and powerlessness so I froze, suppressing my feelings and living out of unresolved grief for years.

Though based on an event in my life, the narrative is fictionalized in order to tap into the universal themes embedded therein. Tara’s memories of Glenn are about engaging in a meaningful personal process, not simply waxing poetic about her lost relationship.

I tried to stay clear of devices like flashbacks or expository dialogue – anything that would detract from an experiential relationship with what was happening. My hope was that by creating a visual and tonal experience, the audience would access those places within themselves – at least in the magical sections.

The narrative was structured to create a sense of the mystery and unfolding with actions that are repeated, namely in the house. The director of photography, Benoit Beaulieu, and I decided a moving camera would better express the idea that Tara was on a journey of discovery so most of the film was shot on a Steadycam or dolly. We also used available light as much as possible, especially at the Manor House, and the happy accidents were worth the shorter days.

It was important to find the right cast. Tara had to be watchable because we follow her for the duration. Helena Marie was the perfect choice – her performance is compelling and subtle, and we root for her. The men, Glenn and Stephane, had to be difficult to choose between and Ivan Peric and Lucas Chartier-Dessert’s authentic performances are key to that effect. Michelle Boback as Carol Ann, Tara’s tough-love best friend, hit the right notes, as did Kathleen Fee as the ‘mentor’ realtor. We were very lucky to find them all.

People often ask if making this film was a cathartic experience, but the truth is it happened a long time ago, though I sometimes still imagine the worst when a loved one is late.

Did it bring any new insights into the nature of loss? I’m not sure. My main objective in exploring this event was threefold: to express difficult feelings to an imagined audience dealing with grief; to pay tribute to a man and event that shaped my life; and to immortalize the romance of grief, before healing, maturity and experience interferes. In this regard, I think I have been successful.

Ultimately, it’s my hope that people who watch the film will feel compassion about their own healing journey – as it is – alternately painful and joyous.

About Kim Barr

Kim Barr

Born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, Kim began her career as a fashion photographer in Milan until an editor at Vogue suggested her work was cinematographic. This opened a whole new door for her and she never looked back.

Kim went on to study film in New York City after which she began making films and working in the industry. Kim holds a bachelor of fine arts from Concordia University, and a masters in film production from York University.

Her first short, Black Rock Burning, an experiential documentary on the Burning Man Festival, was produced by Dezember Productions and premiered at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema. Attachment and Elevator, both short dramas, premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival, and screened at over 20 festivals in Canada and abroad.

Attachment was a finalist for best short at the ACTRA Film Festival in Montreal in 2010, and Elevator, written by Miranda Handford, won an Award of Merit at Best Shorts and was recently licensed by CBC for their program Canadian Reflections.

A Late Thaw premiered at the Calgary International Film Festival and won a Goldie Award for best technical at the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival. It was also nominated for best writing.

Struck by how our inner landscape influences and shapes our experience, Kim enjoys bringing this process to light. An artist at heart, she brings a unique vision and production value to every project.

Kim is currently developing her first feature length film, Blestemat (Cursed), with a writing and research grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. Blestemat is a sweeping drama about a cursed wedding dress passed through three generations of the women in one family.

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