Among the panel of celebrity jurors in this year’s Air Canada enRoute Film Festival is acclaimed young actress Sarah Gadon. To say her star is on the rise would be an understatement. Last night, we hit Toronto’s Varsity Cinema for a screening of the finalists’ films, but the Toronto native was unable to attend due to filming commitments in Belfast where she is working on her latest project, Dracula Untold, with Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper. Perhaps the most sought-after young Canadian actress at the moment, Gadon became known for her roles in David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method and Cosmopolis alongside Robert Pattinson. Her three films that screened at this year’s TIFF will open next year, including Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal. Over the summer, her involvement in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was also announced. Bottom line: you still don’t know who she is, you will very soon.
Now in its seventh year, Air Canada’s enRoute Film Festival provides up-and-coming filmmakers a chance to showcase their work through a short film. We caught up with Gadon in advance of the awards where she offered insight on the short film, life as a Canadian entertainer, and working with David Cronenberg.
What were you looking for most in terms of judging criteria for the enRoute Film Festival?
I was looking for something that moved me. That may seem like a tall order for a 5-20 minute film, but I think that’s why short films are special. They are bursts of inspiration.
What, in your opinion, is the most important element to a short film?
Short films have to be clear from the point of their inception. They have little time to execute their intention and an even shorter amount of time to draw the viewer in. If the slightest element is unclear it can affect the entire film. I also think it’s important for a short film to be original. If it’s original, it’s memorable.
What impressed you the most with the calibre of films you screened?
There were many films that I liked for different reasons. I think that’s what made my process as a juror so difficult. Short films are generally a way for new filmmakers to showcase their work or for experienced filmmakers to experiment. It was really fascinating to pick out each director’s strength.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Canadian actors and filmmakers?
Resources! Although this is not just a Canadian problem, I think Canadians face the challenges of resources in different ways. It’s difficult and expensive to travel within Canada. As a result, artists have difficulty sharing their work. Canada is such a large country that it is difficult to bring artists together coast to coast.
You’ve achieved enormous success as a Canadian performer, and your career is still so fresh. What do you think contributed to your success aside from your obvious talent? What type of sacrifices did you have to make at the beginning to get to where you are now?
I think my ability to be mobile has allowed my career to grow without having to commit to moving away from home. I travel extensively promoting my films, working and auditioning. I work on three continents and over five countries throughout any given work year. This has allowed me to be an international artist, and broaden my opportunities and work experiences.
You’ve worked alongside some very high profile actors. Is there anything that stands out that you can say you’ve learned from anyone in particular?
I learn and I am inspired by every actor I work with. I am very lucky to have been in such great company. Often, when I’m working with a famous and acclaimed actor I feel anxious, perhaps a bit inadequate at first. Then we work together and I see that their process, struggles and triumphs are similar to my own as an artist and I feel stronger and more confident in my own ability.
What’s the best part about working with iconic Canadian director David Cronenberg?
Working with David changed my life. Before A Dangerous Method, I wasn’t sure that it was possible to work in feature films and live in Canada. Through example David taught me that you can have the career you want and live where you want. He also showed me that there was a place for Canadian film on the world stage.
What does success look like to you?
To be a successful actor is to be a working actor. To be happy person is to return home at the end of a project to a place filled with love, laughter and support. What more could anyone ask for?
What’s one guilty pleasure you have in Toronto?
Just one? How about I give you two: Soma chocolate and 7 Grams coffee.
Cover Image Courtesy Of: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP