Once Upon A Time
Film Screening & Ticket Information
When & Where to See this Film!
In Person Date, Time & Location:
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6TH • 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
KAS Zukor • 35th St. • Long Island City, NY 11106
What Went Wrong? Two films examining the realities of life.
Told through the lens of a fairytale, a young girl shares the realities of living with an alcoholic parent.
Athena Russell, Director, FREYA, Call Button, Michelles – A Canadian Soap Opera Comedy, #ThisIsAna,
Athena Russell, Writer, #ThisIsAna, The Pitch, High Five Goodbye, Almost Actors
Sasha Duncan, Producer, Call Button, Multiverse for Dating, Beavers Edge
Mila Jones, Key Cast, “Hanna”, Supergirl, Maid, The Good Doctor
Erica Cerra, Key Cast, “Susan”, The 100, Nancy Drew, Supernatural, Deadly Class
Marc-Anthony Massiah, Key Cast, “Mr. Anderson”, You, Me, Her, Virgin River, Bates Motel, The Killing
Mitchell Baxter, DOP, Big Sky, Julie and the Phantoms, Wildflower
My mom was an alcoholic. It really started to get out of control when I was 12, and by the time it hit its peak I had left the house at 17.
It was sad, and hard, and messy but what still gets me almost 15 years later is that my mom deep down even whilst 1.5litres of wine deep— was often still a decent mom. It was like the alcohol only truly took hold of her sometimes— and the rest of the time when it hadn’t, she was still my caring, craft-loving, excellent soup making mother. I found myself being unable to speak about it, or not knowing how to– as it was not a constant thing. One day she would be passed out on the driveway at 2PM and the next I would come home from school and she would be sewing my costumes for my musical theatre production. The inconsistencies of her behaviour with her addiction were so vast it was impossible to gage the extent of it all or honestly understand it at 13. To me these inconsistencies made the bad days almost seem like a dream, a nightmarish fairytale — it was like an evil force had taken over her- and before I could find the words to tell someone– the “potion” would wear off and I would have my Mom back for a few days—until the pattern repeated itself, again, and again and again.
I found musical theatre and storytelling at 14 and for the first time throughout this experience I had a place to channel my thoughts/feelings. I could escape and be whomever I wanted to be, feel whatever I wanted to feel in a way that was safe. When I cried or yelled on stage, no one questioned why, and I didn’t have to explain it. Whether I was playing a dancing cat, sharing a monologue I had written about my fears of growing up, or describing being a fairy as a child — I was free up on that stage. Free to feel, free to express myself, free to be the person I wanted to be outside of my mom’s addiction. I can honestly say that art and storytelling changed my life. It allowed me as a brooding, hormonal, alt rock-loving teen to channel my thoughts, my feelings, my anxieties, my fears into a space and way that at the time was the only way I could.
My mom is now sober and has been for 12 years (HECK YEAH). When she was in rehab I was asked to write her a letter, one that outlined all of the things that I had experienced, all of the things that her addiction had robbed me of, how her addiction looked, felt, sounded from my perspective, all of the things that as a child her addiction made me feel powerless to. I sat on it for days, weeks, and when I finally wrote it in all of its point form glory— I wasn’t able to send it. Why I will never know. Maybe it was too painful, maybe it was too fresh, maybe now with the skills to properly communicate for myself, I just couldn’t.
This film and Hanna’s fairytale is that letter. Told through the eyes and lens of a young child, this film will allow an audience to not only see the direct effects of addiction in a household but hear and feel it as well. It is a visual representation of how resilient children are and how far they will often go to cope or understand things at a young age. Hanna’s and my nightmarish fairytale affects an estimated 6.6 million a year in Canada. Current research findings suggest that these children are at risk for a range of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural problems, and. without a space or place to express themselves, the damage and repercussions can
last a lifetime.
My “princess mother” got better from her potion — my fairy wings got big enough and we got to fly away and have our happy ending — and I’d like to think that Hanna and Susan *hopefully* get to do the same.
With over 30+ credits and awards to her name as a producer/director, Athena has quickly become one of Vancouver’s most sought-after indie filmmakers. She has produced for the likes of CW Seed, The Harold Greenberg Fund, Creative BC, The National Film Board, Art With Impact, Tongal, and Telus Storyhive, with her films having screened and won numerous awards at film festivals around the world including Fantasia Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Aesthetica Film Festival, Oaxaca International Film Festival, Etheria Film Festival, New York Comedy Festival, Atlanta Comedy Festival, Portland Film Festival, and Calgary International Film Festival. Most recently her film FREYA screened and won ‘Audience Choice for Best Short Narrative’ at the Newport Beach Film Festival, along with 5 out of it’s nominated 9 Leo Awards including, ‘Best-Short Drama’, before being acquired by CBC, Dust and Shudder as of July 2022.
With 3 projects in development and her newly formed production company, The Wives Entertainment LTD, Athena is excited to continue to amplify creative voices within her community and to create stories with an emphasis on intimate storytelling.