The Two Gay Geeks are humbled and excited to be in San Jose, CA with Patricia Chica and some of her collaborators on her new feature length film, Montréal Girls. Why in San jose, you might ask? That is where Cinequest Film Festival is taking place at which Montréal Girls will have a World Premiere event.
Have a look below about specifics. There may still be tickets available, come and see this film.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below. As always we welcome your feedback and input on all of our published content. Thank you for stopping by and spending time with us.
Montreal’s underground nightlife is legendary. Follow Ramy, a poet from the Middle East who is in Montreal for med school, and thanks to his partying cousin, meets two local girls and embarks on a relationship that shows him his destiny.
I strive to tell inspiring stories that explore universal themes to which audiences worldwide can connect and relate. I think of storytelling as a holistic process of impact from the inception of the idea during the writing to the marketing and outreach during distribution. For me, it’s all connected to my vision.
My characters are diverse, independent and assertive with nuances and complexities. Far from being perfect or stereotypical, they intentionally have contradictions and vulnerabilities that profoundly flesh them out and make them compelling and even troubling at times.
‘Montréal Girls’ is the first feature film made with the Chi Energy method, a creative process that connects Storytelling with Intuition, Mindset Psychology, and Higher-Consciousness.
What inspires you as a filmmaker?
As a filmmaker, empowering stories that defy the status quo and lead the protagonist to self-realization inspire my own writing and creative process. If you add significant queer elements, strong unconventional characters, an enlightened message and a killer soundtrack, then I’m in!
Where did the idea of MONTRÉAL GIRLS come from?
MONTRÉAL GIRLS was born from a collaboration with my beloved creative partner and friend Kamal John Iskander, who is also a brilliant filmmaker and screenwriter. Kamal and I had previously worked together on a horror comedy short film, A TRICKY TREAT, which he wrote and I directed and produced. The short had enormous success, premiering at Fantasia to a packed theatre, and winning countless awards at various horror competitions such as jury awards for Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Editing, and VFX at the Macabre Faire, to name a few. Even after 7 years, the short is still securing screenings at film festivals.
My inspiration for MONTRÉAL GIRLS came from my intention to tell uplifting stories that explore universal themes which connect audiences and incite a spark for change. Storytelling is a holistic process for me. It’s grounded by characters who must confront and overcome complex mundane obstacles to transcend their ordinary selves and connect to a higher purpose.
It’s with that in mind that MONTRÉAL GIRLS came to be, as its story and characters are inspired by Kamal’s and my own personal experiences. The Montréal nightlife and the female leading characters, Désirée and Yaz, are inspired by my own journey, from when I was a young Montréal girl and artist, navigating my hometown’s subcultures and indie rock n’ roll scene, as a documentarian, photographer and insider. The lead character, Ramy, is based on Kamal’s own Middle Eastern background and cultural upbringing.
Why is telling this story so important to you, and why are you the best person to tell it?
MONTRÉAL GIRLS is a very personal story to me. It brings to light many aspects of my own coming-of-age story, growing up in a conservative family, while at the same time evolving within the underground scene in Montreal, a very exhilarating, and almost forbidden culture compared to my own.
While movies in North America are more ethnically diverse than ever, a significant amount of all films are still lacking in minority representation. This film allows audiences, who often struggle to have their perspectives heard, to observe life from the point of view of an individual that resembles them. It also illustrates a character who is making their own life choices, despite what society, culture, religion or family may prevent them from choosing.
I’m the best person to tell this story, not only because it borrows from my own life but also because as the child of immigrants growing up inside Montréal’s subcultures, I am able to authentically portray the characters in the film. That’s why it was important for me to have the film in three languages– English, Arabic and French – reflecting the rich diversity found within my own culture.
Talk to us about the theme of your film and how you would like the audience to receive and/or interpret its message.
MONTRÉAL GIRLS is a coming-of-age story about self-realization in its purest form. The film emphasizes following your heart, making the choices that better serve your higher purpose and not pursuing a person or a thing that doesn’t align with who you are.
What was the most unusual part about making this film?
MONTRÉAL GIRLS is the first feature film ever created with the Chi Energy method. The actors and every department’s head were trained by me to use Chi Energy on set.
Chi Energy is a very unique creative process that I have developed, which connects one’s energy centers with their intuition, mindset, language and body expression in order to expand their creative potential, as a performer or storyteller, and to reach their desired outcome faster.
Chi Energy allows us to change our reality through intentional behavior since how you are from within affects the people and environment around you. When creatives work on a project together, it is crucial to be aware of the energy we carry and how it can impact the entire group.
As a Chi Energy educator, it was my responsibility to bring that mindset to the entire team and to provide them with the necessary tools that would help them achieve their sole intentions, as well as the collective’s purpose.
My highest intention is for any creative person to learn these tactics, which derive from ancient knowledge and that serve modern applications to support our contemporary lives. It’s a new way of creating that will make our industry a much more conscious and evolved space.
Tell us about your creative process. What is unique or unusual about it?
My creative process is highly intuitive and comes from my years of training and teaching with different modalities such as energy work, mindset psychology, meditation, mindfulness, and visualization.
I trained the two lead actors Hakim Brahimi (RAMY) and Jasmina Parent (DÉSIRÉE) with Chi Energy for a year prior to principal photography. The techniques and the mindset shift they acquired during that time allowed them to overcome any mental blocks that may have been holding them back during a performance, and to integrate a new energetic paradigm that brought them back to their center (body).
Tell us about your lead actor Hakim Brahimi. What is special about him and why did you want to work with him? Tell us about collaborating with him.
I had a very particular image in mind for Ramy, the leading role. I visualized a charismatic Middle Eastern man in his early twenties with thick dark hair, deep eyes and a certain prudish naivete about him.
I auditioned hundreds of candidates across Canada – particularly from Quebec – Hollywood and even the Middle East. It wasn’t until I came across Hakim Brahimi’s profile on Instagram that I felt I was getting close.
During my 90-minute audition with him, the takes he did were very raw and showcased very little acting ability. Instead of giving up on him, I decided to sit him down and ask him questions about himself. He got very emotional when telling me about his home country, Algeria, and what he missed about it. That vulnerable moment with Hakim stood out to me. Rather than being stuck in his head by trying to impress me, he was very raw and honest with me. Although he had no previous acting experience, I knew I could do something great with him because I was able to get to the depth of his emotions.
I remember telling Hakim “Listen, if I take a gamble casting you as the leading role in a feature film without any acting experience, you have to commit to putting in the hours of preparation with me. Are you ready to do that?” and he answered: “I have a full-time job at a bank.”, so I replied: “Well, you have to be available and make the film a priority if I cast you”.
A few days later he called and told me, “Hey, I just quit my job, when do we start?”.
For the following year, I designed a rigorous training program with Chi Energy, consisting of new weekly lessons and exercises for both Hakim and Jasmina Parent, the leading actress playing Désirée. Some weeks, we trained for up to 15 hours, tapping into each chakra, every limiting belief, and releasing any blockages in the mind or nervous system.
We worked on all the aspects of their energetic alignment (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual) so that they could reach and even surpass their highest potential.
We explored real-life situations and emotions that usually trigger us, in order to release that energy and foster the creation of the character and performance with a blank slate.
Chi Energy allowed them to just be in the present moment by honoring the different qualities that performance demands and letting go of any expectations to allow those connections to happen organically. By surrendering to the process and trusting their intuition and body, it brought them instinctual validation that enhanced their performance.
I aspire to create an environment that fosters absolute trust between the actors and myself as the director. Through this process, that level of surrender was created to the point where I knew that between “action” and “cut”, the scene was theirs and there was nothing else I could have done at that point. All I could do was to send out my support, and it was incredible to witness the change and confidence they gained throughout.
What’s next for you? Talk about your next project and where you’re at right now.
I’m currently developing a drama queer TV series called SOLEIL & LUNA with OUT TV. I’m producing this series with my long-time producer and friend Byron A. Martin.
I’m anticipating directing a refugee dramatic feature called BROTHER, MAN, written by Hedyeh Bozorgzadeh and produced by Bozorgzadeh and Christine Falco.
What is the one question journalists never ask you but that you are dying to answer? Go for it!
There is a short documentary called CHI ENERGY – The Making Of Montréal Girls by Noa Blanche Beschorner showing the entire filming process using Chi Energy, which should come out around the same time as the feature film.