Dawn, Her Dad and the Tractor
Available for the festival’s duration through FIN Stream or Sep 17, 7 & 7:30pm at Cineplex Park Lane; tickets here.
By the time Dawn, Her Dad and the Tractor screens at FIN (at the gala presentation on Friday, September 17), writer-director Shelley Thompson will finally have time to exhale. “We've been working on this right up until last minute, so it doesn't feel like it's been done. So, it's brand new and fresh—and when I see it, at the film festival, it's really going to be the first time on a great big screen,” she explains in a phone interview.
To say it’s crunch time for the first-time feature filmmaker—who you may remember from her 13-season run acting in Trailer Park Boys, or for playing the stepmother in David Bowie’s Labyrinth—would be an understatement. But don’t mistake that for the story being anything less than a fully formed flick with big ambitions. “I think everybody's making films to change the world, on some level,” Thompson says. “I don't have any illusions, but of course I want my film to change the world and I want people to talk and I want people to be kinder and more humane and more accepting of the trans community.”
Thompson is quick to explain that the film—which follows a newly transitioned daughter and her estranged father’s attempt to patch up their relationship through doing the same to an old tractor—is really about family and home. It's a composite inspired by the transition of her son (that'd be Halifax pop singer-songwriter T. Thomason); the members of the trans community he's introduced her to; and a friend's friend who reconnected with his dying dad while repairing a tractor.
The movie stars Maya V. Henry, who’s also on the call, as Dawn. “I have a lot of parallels with Dawn in this film,” Henry says. “I also come from a very rural small town, it’s a town called Georgina in Ontario. And growing up it was hard to be different and to stand out, and I felt like there wasn't always room for my voice and my differences and so, very much like Dawn, I felt like I had to go to an urban community to find people like myself and find my legs to stand on and to actually transition.” This is the first starring turn for Henry, a famed YouTuber, in a feature film.
“There's a lot of parallels with going back and reintroducing yourself to friends and family and all of that journey, and really humanizing it,” Henry adds when asked what she loves about the flick. She says Dawn, Her Dad and the Tractor shows “that it's possible to reconnect with people, even after a transition, when you’re very fearful and you don't know how they're going to react, right? I think it's really important to share that side of the story.”