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Gada Jane, John Orpheus and the cult of celebrity

Sudbury native screens latest flick at Nice Int'l Film Festival, accepts Cannes invite

A filmmaker who's originally from Sudbury had her short film screened at the Nice International Film Festival last week.

Gada Jane's film John Orpheus is Dead was nominated for best short film at the festival.

“John Orpheus is Dead” is about pop culture, police brutality, and the power of a good publicity stunt. When a young activist is killed by police, her best friend sets out to make sure her death is not forgotten.

The film tells the story of the media-fueled collision between grassroots ideals and glossy pop culture, embodied in the character John Orpheus.

Kitchener-based musician John Orpheus stars in the film as the manufactured pop-star version of himself. The film includes animation, stills and film footage in an innovative immersive experience for the internet age — all loosely based on the myth of Orpheus, who travels to the underworld to save his love.

Although it didn't win in its category, Jane said her film had a positive reception, and she made a lot of great professional connections during her time in France. The film's producer and its star accompanied her to France.

“This was in a festival where people were walking out of a lot of films,” said the filmmaker, who goes by Gada Jane in her professional life, but whose real name is Erica Robinson.

“We filled the theatre. People were standing, and nobody left. It was a very well-received film, from an audience perspective.”

After the Nice film festival, Jane travelled to the iconic Cannes International Film Festival, being held this week. She had been invited to meet with industry professionals and attend screenings.

Jane — the daughter of Laurentian University economist and past Green Party political candidate David Robinson — has a bachelor's degree in English from Laurentian and a master's in theatre from the University of Guelph.

She's worked in theatre, as a dramaturge (editing stage plays), and then as a film editor before starting to make her own films.

Jane said she's currently developing an action-adventure film called “Video Star,” which she hopes to film in Sudbury next year.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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