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The Ties That Bind premieres in Alberta

Posted on October 26, 2023 by Taber Times

By Heather Cameron
Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Ties That Bind, a film that is set in 1930’s rural Alberta and focuses on the effects that the Great Depression, greed, and dishonesty can have on family and community, premiered to a crowd of 500 people on September 27, 2023 in Eau Claire Theatre Five at the Calgary International Film Festival.

“We got a standing ovation at the end,” Director, Co-Producer, and Screenwriter James Reckseidler said. “Very generous crowd. A lot of people felt some stuff they didn’t know they were gonna feel. We got stunningly visceral, just such high-quality comments about the quality and the value of the film and all that good stuff.”

The character of Tom Lawson (Ryan Northcott), an MLA for Delburne, first shows up in the film at a political gathering sponsored by the Aberhart government, a party who is set on promoting Social Credit Bonds and their usefulness to the people. The mood is very jovial, but Lawson’s mood is anything but. Lawson eventually leaves the gathering with his troubled mind as his only company and ends up at the bedside of a girl named Eugenia (Hannah Duke) who underwent an abortion after having sex with him. Eugenia is less than happy to see Tom and Tom is less than enthusiastic to be at her bedside, so he simply leaves the situation allegedly unfinished and instead returns to his family home of Delburne, Alberta rather abruptly via train. 

When Tom arrives, he is greeted by his brother, Dan (Lonni Olson) and the two quickly reunite with Dan’s wife, Grace (Rae Farrer), Dan and Tom’s brother, Huck (Christopher Duthie), and Grace’s sister, Cecile (Heather Pattengale). The mood within the reunited family is lighthearted until Grace approaches Dan wishing to expand their family. Tom’s advice to Dan about the subject is merely to either adopt or “try another way,” which Dan interprets as using a surrogate and choosing Cecile to be that surrogate. At the same time, Tom also asks Dan for a loan to help him escape the trouble he got into with Eugenia, but Dan proves more reluctant to help than Tom expected him to be.

From that point forward, the movie changes to a darker tone and the family bond that was once strong begins to bend and break as Tom, Dan, and Grace’s desires and the steps they take to fulfill them create irreversible chaos. 

This is truly a story where everyone is willing to sell their souls to get their win in the game of life until the game suddenly stops being fun to play.

The extraordinary visuals created by cinematographers Aaron Bernakevitch and Philip Earl Bowen make the story nothing less than appealing.  The villains of the film are also remarkably hard to predict as is the story’s direction, but that is what makes it appealing. Not knowing how the tale will end should make everyone want to start from the beginning. 

All of the main characters play a part in weaving a giant web of chaos as they fight to get what they want regardless of the cost.

Reckseidler says that he was inspired to create the story because he himself is a triplet and lived an upbringing where there’s always a third person is in that moral mix of the decision making when you grow up together and he wanted to show what that looks  like through the making of this film. In addition to that, Reckseidler says, he set it during 1930’s Alberta because he has a history interest and believes the history of the province to be fascinating.

“I think we tend to only have surface layer under understanding of what the history of this province is and who we are,” Reckseidler said. “And I found the Aberhart government and Social Credit, like populous government is something we are living with today that was also happening a hundred years ago. Right. So, populous movement that actually had people’s interest in mind to kickstart the depression is happening kind of now. So Alberta’s always had interesting politics and this particular era in the thirties was interesting to me as well. So I think the idea that these relatively wealthy people, they’re pretty, like, they’re pretty okay. They’re gonna be okay kind of people. They’re not, they’re not desperate people, but they become desperate because of the situation and the times.”

Now, Reckseidler says, the next step for The Ties That Bind is a screening in his hometown of Delburne, Alberta, an event that is set for some time in November. Reckseidler says he and his fellow producers Joel Goundry, Drew Martin, Marc Vandergraaf, Ivy Wong, Chris Fuglerud, and Phillip Liesemer and his Executive Producers Jürgen Lutze, Sandra Neill, and Luke Black also want to try and get the film into some European film festivals.

“Our hope is that this film demonstrates something about a different way that we can present ourselves as Albertans and as filmmakers at a level that meets the world and the worlds and the art projects that are out there that are gritty and where the artist is at the front of the film,” Reckseidler said. “I’m trying to advocate for how vital the independent community is to this robust industry.”

The film screens in Delburne, Alta., on Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m.

For more information about The Ties That Bind and its future, contact Partner Distribution Group at (403) 724-2500 or at info@partnerdistribution.com or reckseidlerfilms at (403) 630-5809 james@reckseidlerfilms.com. 

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