Maintaining her fascination of the fantastical, director Elza Kephart furthered her journey into the world of mythology and mystery by exploring the original story of creation with the story of Lilith. Go in the Wilderness is about Adam’s first wife, who rebelled against the Creator and Adam in search of self.
“Something awesome struck me about the legend of the first woman escaping paradise and waking up on shores of the red sea of an unknown world,” Kephart said.
The film begins with a naked Lilith experiencing the basic pangs of human existence: hunger, loneliness and fear. Not to mention, the earthly “curse” of female menstruation. When a Guardian approaches from the stars above, he expresses his urgent need to bring Lilith back to Eden, where she will live forever and be unfazed by the problems of the world; the only problem is, she does not remember the journey back.
In their voyage back to Eden, the audience is aroused by the basic forms of curiosity and human emotion. However, Lilith does not want to return to Eden, a golden cage that has no sun.
When Elza Kephart’s first feature film, Graveyard Alive (2003) rattled over 20 countries and won the Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography at the 2004 Slamdance Festival, the Canadian filmmaker thought her road was set in stone. Now, 10 years later, with the release of her second feature-film, Go in the Wilderness, Kephart laughed at the unexpected turns her career has taken.
Since her horror-comedy, about a shy nurse who becomes a flesh eating sex kitten after being bit by a zombie, exploded, Kephart didn’t expect to continue to work on various Hollywood sets including The Greatest Game Ever Played (2005), The Last Kiss (2006), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) and The Smurfs 2 (2013). Instead, she wished to pursue her dream of creating fantastical films.
“I think when we go to film school, you learn the craft and the tricks of the trade, but no one prepares you for the psychological roller coaster that you experience by yourself,” reminisced Kephart. “I made one successful film and I thought that it would be no problem for me to get more funding for future projects from Canadian organizations like SODEC, but I was [mistaken].”
Having been fortunate enough to grow up with supportive parents who encouraged her to pursue a career as an artist, Kephart learned from a young age to be proactive.
“It’s important to find your own voice and do what you truly want to do, because unless you believe in reincarnation, you only have one life.”
This way of thinking is what inspired Kephart to take matters into her own hands after production funding for Go in the Wilderness didn’t pan out.
“Some people say never spend money on your own film, but if no one is giving you money and you want to make a film, you have to make that investment.”
With the financial help of family and friends, Kephart was able to turn her dream into a reality, even if it took longer than expected.
About the film, Kephart said: “The twist is that Eden is like being in a casino with no ticking clocks. That’s why the film is called Go in the Wilderness, because of the contrast of sunrise and sunset of our world against the timeless world of so called Paradise,” said Kephart, whose film will walk the audience on a fine line between the boundaries of this world and the mystical, phantom world of long ago.
Go in the Wilderness premieres as part of Festival du Nouveau Cinéma Oct. 19 at Pavillon Judith-Jasmin Annexe at 1:00 p.m.