If Sergio Leone ever decided to set a spiritual epic in the Napoleonic era, it might look a little bit like Of Saints and Outlaws.
The locally filmed feature, directed by Antonio Bastone, tells the story of a heretic-burning church inspector during the 18th century. During his travels he encounters a mysterious vagabond, becomes part of a traveling posse with a mad judge, and dares to defy the church. Bastone said every aspect of the film is based on historical records.
Using 36 local actors, Bastone took approximately a year and a half to finish shooting digitally with his son Ash Von Shamier.
Of Saints and Outlaws will premiere at the Civic Theatre on June 18 and at the Capital on June 21. Residents may recognize the backdrop, because every scene was filmed in the Kootenays.
“People down in Florida, they can’t believe we live in such a beautiful place,” said Bastone. “We don’t need work visas. We have this magnificent backdoor and I thought ‘hey, I should be taking advantage of this.”’
The scenery wasn’t his only asset. He also dipped into the local talent pool, picking up both trained theatre actors and residents who had no experience. Andrew Harvey and Michael Callandine play the lead roles, and Bastone has a part as well.
“I think this will appeal to our community, because they’ll be able to identify with parts of the script,” Bastone said. Though the film has spiritual overtones and features deeply Christian characters, he said it will appeal to the faithful and secular alike.
“It all leads back to love. Love thy brother,” he said. The film has an anti-war message, and is ultimately about the deteriorated evolution of mankind.
“I think they’ll walk away with a better idea of what Christ was talking about,” said Bastone.
“This isn’t a sensationalism film. It’s not one of those watered down mystical-type movies. It’s basically about how we all have divinity within us, the capability for God-consciousness.”
The film is based on Bastone’s currently unpublished novel, which he’s hoping to show to publishers in tandem with the finished movie. He said it captures the spirit of the book, but leaves much of the plot untouched.
“I think you need to think big to be big,” he said. Bastone envisions multiple parts of his tale on the big screen, and is already working on a new Western.
“I know this won’t be a blockbuster,” Bastone said about the film, which was completed for less than $100,000. But he said that doesn’t matter to him, and he believes the advances in digital filmmaking will open the floodgates for more artists like him to realize their vision.
After screening in Nelson, Of Saints and Outlaws will tour to the Calgary International Film Festival, the Canadian International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival. Bastone said that’s only the beginning.
“I’m going to send it everywhere,” he said.
You can view the trailer at www.ofsaintsandoutlaws.com.