"People would say, 'What's your film about?' and I'd say 'It's about living glamourously with bowel disease,'" says Jasmine Oore, "and it would make the room silent. And then I would add, 'It's a comedy.' And it would get worse!"
The silence-inducing concept, Glamour Guts---a shrewdly timed, freeze-frame-filled laugh riot---was written and directed by Oore through the 2008 edition of the Atlantic Filmmakers' Cooperative's One Minute Film program and has turned out to be a local hit. After screenings in the last two Halifax Independent Filmmakers' Festivals and the 2008 Atlantic Film Festival, on July 4 Glamour Guts was crowned the winner of Short Film Faceoff. In its second season on CBC, the show pitted nine local filmmakers against one another over three weeks before opening to a public vote. Her win amounts to a $35,000 development/production deal from the CBC for her next project.
Oore writes from experience, having been diagnosed with Chron's disease---inflammation of the intestines---as a teen; her colon was removed in 2002. She also starred in the film. "Various people who were close to me in my life were worried about me exposing myself that much. One of my brothers offered to play me in drag and for a little while that was a potential plan," she says, laughing, which she does often. (Her brothers include the musicians Dani and Sageev. The latter "brilliantly improvised it, while the film played on my laptop, perched on his piano.") "That elicited way better response---then people could actually laugh at the idea---but ultimately, it didn't feel like it would be honest enough. The decision to be in it was feeling like that was the most honest thing to do."
Honesty is something the filmmaker strives for in her work: her first project, a scholarship through the Centre for Art Tapes, was about her grandmother, and her new CBC project, There's Been a Terrible Mistake, is about the fallout of the car accident she and her boyfriend Ezra Morrell were in two days after the Glamour Guts shoot. He did not survive. ("It's a journey through grief. Also a comedy, also doesn't seem to illicit much laughter when I explain it.") Oore edited Glamour Guts on a laptop in the hospital.
"It was a more intense experience than I think it normally would have been," she says, "but good to give me a point of focus."
The experience of Glamour Guts was ultimately a freeing one, despite the intimate subject matter and the intense circumstance that coloured its production. "There's something that feels good about taking emotional risks. It's scary, but it's more rewarding than not," says Oore.
And on a practical level, "It's been such a challenge to reconcile the conflict of having my real situation and my real problems, which is not particularly socially graceful to talk about or to let people know about, and the fact that I'm naturally, almost pathologically, an open and honest person," she says. "So I've been struggling with that since I got sick, which is when I was 14. And that for me is what this movie was about---addressing those moments of impossibility and reconciling the duplicitous nature of my life. I definitely feel good that this movie deals with it in a way that is honest but where I don't feel like I'm that girl at the party who's like, 'Wah wah wah...my bowels, my problems, my bowels.'"