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Friday, July 19, 2024

Wolf explores feelings of isolation in new motherhood

The Halifax filmmaker's short screens as part of the Shorts Programme 1 at this year's Atlantic International Film Festival.

In our ongoing series, Halifax Presents speaks with local filmmakers to learn more about their film shorts, playing at this year’s Atlantic International Film Festival.

I hope [audiences] see a new light shed on motherhood and breastfeeding that isn’t either wholly romantic or wretched, but a little of both. – Kathleen Dorian

In this latest Q&A, director, screenwriter and producer Kathleen Dorian talks about her film Wolf, which screens as part of the Shorts Programme 1 on September 15 and online from September 16-24.

The 2023 Atlantic International Film Festival runs September 17-24. Visit atlanticfilmfestival.ca for a complete listing of films and tickets.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Wolf. What can audiences expect?

Wolf is my answer to what I wished I could see in film or TV during my first year postpartum. There were a lot of two-dimensional parents, all harried and covered with milk with a baby on their hip, but it didn’t reflect my experience in a real way. So I decided to make it.

Wolf is a fragmented narrative short about my particular experience as a new mum, exploring the rollercoaster of sharpness and softness of breastfeeding and parenting. I wanted to see an honest depiction of breastfeeding, the complicated feelings of being a new parent, so that’s what is in it.

How did you find the story/What was your inspiration for the film?

I had under-diagnosed and under-treated postpartum depression, and my way of trying to express what I was feeling was the basis for this film. I took bits and pieces of my lived experience and stitched them together for the film.

Why this film now?

Kathleen Dorian's Wolf is a fragmented narrative short about her experience as a new mother.
Kathleen Dorian’s Wolf is a fragmented narrative short about her experience as a new mother.

Because I had just had my baby. I knew I would forget the feelings – they would fade away over time, and soften with sleep – and I wanted to capture it. I’m glad I did.

I also think there’s a piece of conversation missing from the Feminist cannon about parents/mothers and how we sort of consume pregnancy and motherhood/parenthood as an idea, and then stop caring about what that person is actually experiencing. I have seen this in my experience and in others.

Listen, there may not be one right answer, but I wish there was more curiosity about the postpartum experience, and a lot less commentary on the postpartum body.

What was your biggest challenge in making the film?

Finding the wherewithal to make it while my baby was seven months old, and then also filming around her sleeping and feeding.

What will surprise audiences about your film?

For all the breastfeeding, you won’t see many boobs or nipples.

What do you hope audiences walk away talking about or thinking about after seeing the film?

I hope they see a new light shed on motherhood and breastfeeding that isn’t either wholly romantic or wretched, but a little of both. Maybe they’ll think about calling up their new-parent friend and offer to just come over to make a meal and do the dishes, not hold the baby, and then leave.

What’s next for Kathleen Dorian?

A comedy.

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