August 17, 2023

SCREEN | Devery Jacobs Finds 'This Place' x VQFF 2023

"Disappearing feels good sometimes."
Devery Jacobs Priya Guns V.T. Nayani | This Place | VQFF 2023
Vancouver Queer Film Festival
Mohawk actress Devery Jacobs (originally from Kahnawà:ke Territory outside of Montreal) stars as a mixed-race Indigenous-Iranian student in the moving queer romantic drama This Place. Set in Toronto, freshman director V.T. Nayani tells parallel stories of daughters of refugees dealing with the ghosts of absent fathers set against Canada's history of both settling and displacing its inhabitants.

Actress/writer Priya Guns also stars as Malai, a Tamil math whiz whose family escaped the genocidal Sri Lankan Civil War with their own historical scars. Jacobs as Kawennii├│hstha is such a delight. She and Guns have an easy and natural chemistry as new friends excited by the possibilities of their relationship. They bond over their shared feeling as outsiders, often mistaken for very different kinds of "Indians" in Canada.

Written by Golshan Abdmoulaie, Jacobs, and Nayani, This Place uses its spareness to express a touching multi-ethnic sense of self-discovery from its characters' anxieties around cultural displacement. Still, how the film weaves the complicated racial histories of its characters through Canadian history provides a rich, occasionally heavy-handed, portrait of young adulthood.

Naynani crafts a touching story of fractured cultural identities focused on the act of forgiveness. Its exploration of land and place (as the title would suggest) beyond geography makes its racial themes so mature and a true reflection of the people who (reluctantly) call Canada home. This Place weaves aspects of Mohawk, Tamil, and Persian identity organically and thoughtfully as it interrogates the location of where people are actually from.

This Place screened at the 2023 Vancouver Queer Film Festival. It's available through digital and video on demand.

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