After a successful run on the film festival circuit, “Beat Down” is ready to test the market in a cinema setting.
The debut feature film by
St. John’s filmmaker Deanne Foley will open at eight Empire Theatres locations across Atlantic Canada, including in St. John’s, starting Friday.
Starring Marthe Bernard of “Republic of Doyle,” Robb Wells of “Trailer Park Boys” and Tony Nappo, who appeared in “Saw II,” “Beat Down” tells the story of Fran, an 18-year-old girl with aspirations of becoming a pro wrestler.
Her overprotective single father, Whitey, is a former pro who's dead-set against Fran taking up the sport. Fran eventually runs away to join her father's former rival on tour.
Other cast members include Bernard’s real-life father, Andy Jones, and her “Republic of Doyle” co-star, Mark O’Brien.
The movie, which was filmed in St. John’s, premiered last October at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and has since seen success around the continent.
Foley won the Female Eye Film Festival’s award for Best Debut Feature, and the film has also been nominated in the Best Canadian Feature Film category.
It was also nominated for three Canadian Comedy Awards, won the Silver Remi Award of Excellence at Houston’s Worldfest, and earned an honourable mention in the Best Comedy Feature category at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival.
Bernard won the Best Actress award at the FirstGlance Hollywood Film Festival for her portrayal of Fran in the movie.
"The true test is how it’s received in the cinema — if people laugh when they’re supposed to; if they’re quiet during the dramatic moments,” Foley told The Telegram Friday. “It’s been received well so far. I think people go in to laugh and it surprises them when the film moves them. I’ve heard that a lot.”
It was Foley’s goal from the beginning to create a visually strong, character-driven film that was both emotional and entertaining, she has said.
It’s never easy for a local film to go up against Hollywood blockbusters at the box office, but Foley reckons “Beat Down” can hold its own, because of these qualities.
“It’s daunting for any film that doesn't have the insane marketing machine behind it that Hollywood films do, but I’m extremely proud of this film,” Foley said of “Beat Down’s” box office release.
“I think it’s a well-told, well-crafted story, and I think the film itself, and the story that we tell, is just as strong as any of the American movies.”
Depending on the box office response, “Beat Down” may be released to a wider cinema audience.
Foley, who just wrapped up a stint as a director on “Republic of Doyle,” is working on a new feature film, “Rich Kids,” with writing partner Iain MacLeod.
Another feature, a romantic comedy called “Relative Happiness,” based on the Lesley Crewe novel of the same name, is scheduled to go into production in Nova Scotia with a Nova Scotia/Newfoundland and Labrador cast next year.