Canadian, award-winning director Heather Young’s debut feature film, Murmur tells the quiet, contemplative story of Donna (Shan MacDonald) who, grappling with alcohol dependence and loneliness, turns to a growing number of pets to ease her pain. Supported by Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch program and starring a cast of non-professional actors, many of whom are playing themselves in the film, Murmur explores the enduring themes of aging and the human/animal connection. Murmur will screen in competition at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival after its US Premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Murmur has won multiple awards including FIPRESCI Prize – Discovery Program at Toronto International Film Festival; Best Atlantic Screenwriter, Director, Cinematography, and Feature Film at Atlantic International Film Festival; and RBC Emerging Artist Award – Best Canadian Narrative Feature at Calgary International Film Festival.
Donna has recently been convicted of “Driving While Impaired” and is ordered to perform community service at the local animal shelter. When an elderly dog is scheduled to be euthanized, Donna decides to take the dog home and quickly realizes his companionship can ease her loneliness. In a futile attempt to fill the emptiness she feels, Donna begins to take home more and more animals and she is soon in over her head.
“It is important to me to tell the stories of older women and allow them to be complex, flawed and fully realized characters, the likes of which are rarely depicted in cinema,” says writer-director Heather Young. “Donna’s loneliness and addictive nature cause her to act in ways that are at times counter-intuitive and destructive but ultimately she is looking for company — and that is something that we can all relate to,” she adds.
Heather Young is a filmmaker originally from New Brunswick now living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After graduating from the University of New Brunswick and NSCAD University she made several short films. FISH (2016) played at festivals all over the world including Palm Springs Shortfest, the Vancouver International Film Festival, Vienna Independent Shorts and TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Festival. FISH was also a Vimeo Staff Pick and won Best Short Film in the NSI Online Short Film Festival. Her latest short MILK (2017) had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (where she also participated in the TIFF Talent Lab), won Best Short Film (Canada) at Festival du nouveau cinema, and played TIFF Canada’s Top Ten, Aspen Shortsfest, the Maryland Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, the London Short Film Festival, and many others. MURMUR is her first feature.
“We are honored to be invited to screen Murmur at Slamdance,” says producer Martha Cooley. “It’s a festival that prides itself on independence and scrappiness and Murmur is in many ways a very raw film. We’re excited to see how the Slamdance audience responds to it,” she concludes.