Montreal Independent Film Festival: Wayne Sables Wins Best Experimental Film.

by Vicky Prior

A new dance film Familiar Struggle, directed by Wayne Sables, has won Best Experimental Film in the February/March 2021 selection at the Montreal Independent Film Festival. The film was created with choreographer and performer Keira Martin and explores having a career in the arts as a working-class person. It was shot in Dodworth in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, and drew on Wayne and Keira’s experiences of growing up the county.

Montreal International Film Festival

The Montreal International Film Festival is a prestigious award ceremony that showcases the best new films each month. The Festival was started in 2020 by Canadian filmmaker Arsalan Baraheni and boasts a high quality judging panel featuring actors, writers, producers and directors. The monthly selections are put forward to an annual award ceremony, with the chance to win cash prizes on top of the publicity from the monthly prize.

How Familiar Struggle Was Made

Commissioned by Surf the Wave, Familiar Struggle shows the difficulties working-class people have when pursuing a career in the arts and how their upbringing affects their future. Keira Martin and Wayne Sables have worked on projects before but this is the first time they collaborated on a piece from the beginning. They brought in musician and composer Jamie Roberts to create the soundtrack. Like Keira, Jamie lives in Dodworth. He is part of folk band Gilmore and Roberts.

Creating the film during the pandemic meant additional challenges. The whole piece was filmed in the gap between the second and third lockdown, with filming completed in two days. There was then a further two days for editing before the piece was sent to Jamie to develop the soundtrack. As Wayne and Keira were the only two present during filming, which all took place outside, they were able to adhere to social distancing rules and keep themselves safe.

Filming in Dodworth was very important to both Wayne and Keira in order to show her lived experience. To fully capture Keira’s day, filming took place from early morning to late evening, with Keira responding to different things that happened and the way the environment changed. 

The theme for Familiar Struggle linked to Wayne’s passion for making that work that addresses real issues. He says ‘As a working-class artist myself it was important to make something that represented not only how we feel but to create a sense of collectivism around the class divides within society.’ The visuals flowed from how Keira felt in each moment and then how Wayne chose to capture Keira’s movement.

Wayne’s reaction to winning Best Experimental Film

I asked Wayne how he felt about winning Best Experimental Film and he said he was  ‘absolutely thrilled’. Wayne’s films are normally developed for a live audience but with the pandemic shutting down venues, he decided to submit to a film festival instead. He explained ‘I never thought we would even get selected let alone win the category. It’s amazing that somebody has recognised the artistry that has gone into making this film, I’m really excited that people are going to watch this that we would never have been able to access before.’ Wayne has submitted the film to more festivals in the hope of building momentum and reaching an even wider audience.

You can watch the award winning film below:

To learn how to make your own films using Wayne Sable’s methods, check out his courses.


Read More: Wayne’s Blog