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On the Waterfront: Kevin Drew Directs Feist in Short Film

February 20, 2009  |  10:00am
On the Waterfront: Kevin Drew Directs Feist in Short Film
Midway into Feist’s 2007 breakthrough album The Reminder is a bewitching ballad called “The Water.” The track moves slowly, as if water itself, and its emotional resonance inspired Broken Social Scene co-founder Kevin Drew to adapt the tune into a short film—or visual poem, as he likes to think of it. “The song has so much real, honest and raw age to it,” Drew says. “It sounds like an old classic song.”

Wanting the film to relate the song’s essence and not its actual lyrics, Drew took the idea of a loved one coming back to life and tied it to sparse dialogue and shots of concentrated facial expressions. The film’s pace is excruciatingly slow, and intentionally so. “I wanted the film to match the patience within the recording,” he says. “If you listen carefully you can hear all the details of chairs and pianos clicking around and the musicians breathing … it has such a strong emotion to it.”

After recruiting actors David Fox and Cillian Murphy, Drew rounded out the cast with the songbird herself. Feist plays a sort of love interest—the sort that gets dragged through the snowy forest in a mummy wrap, then thawed out by a fire. “Kevi,” as Feist calls Drew, “told me one day that he wanted to make a film for ‘The Water,’ and he knew he needed Cillian’s blue eyes and David’s brown ones and that it was going to be a fairytale,” Feist says. “It felt like a cross between a book I read as a kid called The Snow Queen, a silent film and a long walk in the woods with snow crunching under your feet.”  

The short, which was shot in two days in Toronto last January, is awaiting submission into festivals. Perhaps cinephiles on the festival circuit will be able to decipher the enigmatic plot. “There was nothing shocking or any original twist within it,” Drew says. “It was following the core but I really love how it’s up for interpretation for the viewer. I’m one of those people who makes things and figures it out afterwards.”

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