Sophy Romvari gained the attention of selection committee with her 11-minute short, Nine Behind
Andy Rice // Editor-in-Chief
It’s only been two-and-a-half years since Sophy Romvari left Capilano University with a degree in Motion Picture Arts (MOPA), but in that time she’s managed to amass more artistic experience than most people acquire in a decade.
In addition to the obvious filmmaking pursuits one would expect from a MOPA grad, Romvari has found fulfilment in other areas as well. Designing posters for the Rio Theatre has kept her busy in recent months, alongside duties as a media and communications specialist for the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.
“I decided early on that instead of working in the film industry in the traditional sense, I wanted to find other ways to support myself,” she explained. “So, that’s where [the] Rio posters and [the] Jazz festival come in. I am currently focusing on trailer editing and movie poster design. The trick is to find jobs that allow for some creative freedom as well as scheduling freedom.”
Romvari’s most recent project is a return to her roots as an independent filmmaker. Her short film, Nine Behind, was selected to premiere at the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), telling the story of a woman who phones her grandfather in Hungary to talk about the film industry but instead ends up having a discussion about her family’s history.
The Courier caught up with Romvari, who has recently returned to Vancouver after a brief stint in Toronto, to learn more about the production and the work that went into it.
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CC: What is the significance behind the title, Nine Behind?
SR: Simply, this is in reference to the time difference between the city of Vancouver and Hungary, but also implies a disconnection of sorts.
CC: What inspired you to make this film, and what themes or dynamics were you intending to explore through the telling of this story?
SR: I was watching a foreign film, and I found myself considering the language barrier and how this impacted my perception of the performances. Would I feel so strongly moved by them, had I spoken the language? Can language hide flaws in performance? So this is where my initial idea to want to direct something in a language I don’t understand came from, as a challenge.
Although my background is Hungarian, I cannot speak the language myself. The content of the story is based out of personal experience, but is ultimately fiction. I wanted to explore this sense of separation from one’s roots and search for identity. As a Canadian whose immediate family was born in Hungary, I have always felt a certain lack of connection to the country I was born in. This film feeds a desire to learn why that missing connection is so important to me. This idea coincides with a feeling that I know many first-generation Canadians share.
CC: Where did you shoot the film and how long did it take to make?
SR: I shot the film in a friend’s apartment in Vancouver. It was important to me that there be a distinct view of the city from the shooting location, as Vancouver plays a big role in the film. This film was shot over the course of a day, from morning till late at night. We shot pretty much in real time as the sun went down, as the story itself is meant to take place only within the span of the film (about 11 minutes).
CC: When did you initially submit Nine Behind to VIFF for consideration, and what was it like finding out that it had been chosen to premiere at the festival this year?
SR: I submitted through Withoutabox online early in 2016 after finishing the film. I feel very lucky to have VIFF as an excuse to come back to Vancouver so soon, having moved to Toronto earlier this year. As the film is deeply linked to the city, there isn’t anywhere I’d rather it premiere.
Nine Behind has two upcoming screenings at VIFF — 9 pm on Oct. 6 at International Village 10, and 3 pm on October 13 at Vancity Theatre. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit VIFF.org or Sophy.me.
As for the coming year, Romvari is mulling over a full-time return to film studies, most likely at York University in Toronto.
“I would say the most critical takeaway I have from my [CapU] degree is proving to myself just how passionate and dedicated I am at making this my life and career,” she said. “I think many people feel pressured to get a degree just to have one, and don’t necessarily feel passionate about what they are studying. I feel grateful that after four years, I knew coming out from the [MOPA] program that I was still just as fired up about making films as on my first day of class.”