Benjamin is a story of love and family but at the same time confronts an impossible dilemma in surrogacy and grief. Benjamin will be having its world premiere in Shorts Cuts Canada Programme 7 at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Director Sherren Lee spoke about how she faces fertility and gender politics in an emotional story of two couples.
Describe your film in less than 10 words.
Two couples face an impossible decision after a tragic stillbirth.
What inspired you to make this film?
I was intrigued by the notion of surrogacy and wanted to explore the notion of what it really is like to be truly selfless.
What was the best thing about production? Most frustrating?
The best thing about production was to have this incredible cast and team behind me – I was surrounded by so much passion, talent and care! The most frustrating was losing our hero location a few days before the shoot.
What’s the one thing you want people to know about your film?
That it’s a powerful and universal story about parenthood, family and love that we can all relate to.
Why do you feel the subject matter of this film involves exposure and an in depth discussion on gender, fertility and identity politics?
It was never my intention to talk about politics, but rather, to tell a story of love and compassion between friends. The discussion on gender, fertility and identity in the film are inherent to seeking understanding between friends through this conflict, and come from a place of fighting for ourselves, as opposed to fighting with each other. To me, that’s what making movies is all about – to further our understanding of ourselves, and of each other, allowing us to grow and become more compassionate and open minded about the people and the world around us.
What will you be working on next?
On my first feature film, a romance entitled Verses.
Your film is screening as part of TIFF — what are you most excited about seeing or doing at this year’s festival?
I am just so excited to have the opportunity to watch as many movies as I want at the festival. I am looking forward to be inevitably inspired by my peers and some of the most talented veteran filmmakers of today.
With TIFF celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, what has been your best experience with TIFF in the past – personal or professional?
Last year I was able to experience the festival whole heartedly, courtesy of the Canadian Film Centre. I just loved being present, watching movies and getting to know fellow filmmakers at various events during this very exciting time in Toronto.