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Family dispute film wins Richmond pair spot in national TV contest

Grandma Lee’s Dress, by Bryce Iwaschuk and Ana Pacheco, tells the story of a family split after their grandma's death

Two Richmond filmmakers are facing off against others from across the country in a nationwide short film contest.

A 10-minute short film titled Grandma Lee’s Dress by McNair alumnus Bryce Iwaschuk and McMath alumnus Ana Pacheco was selected as one of nine films in the 16th Season of CBC Gem’s Short Film Face Off TV series.

Based on Pacheco’s family history, the true-story portrays a family dispute over Grandma Lee’s belongings after her passing, ultimately causing a family split.

Grandma Lee’s great-granddaughter, played by Pacheco, puts on a dress containing her great-grandmother’s spirit and uses it to bring the family back together.

“Each character in the film is a conglomeration of several of our family members kind of pulled together,” said Pacheco, adding she co-wrote the script with her second cousin Janalee Budge.

“My grandpa was one of the nine siblings and it kind of broke up the family and these sub-families didn’t end up talking to each other for years.”

The nine films, including Grandma Lee’s Dress, will be shown on CBC across Canada each week starting Sept. 2 and on CBC Gem afterwards.

“It was quite surreal to know our film is being broadcasted on national TV,” said Iwaschuk, producer of the short film.

Iwaschuk and Pacheco are looking to share the message that family and cultural roots should not be defined by material possessions.

“Even when families break up you need to get to your roots and try to connect together beyond possessions and we want to showcase that,” said Pacheco.

“When people are grieving, the point is for families to be together and support each other.”

She emphasized that accepting people, regardless of their race or status, can help everyone “find common ground” during difficult times.

Grandma Lee’s Dress was originally filmed for the 2022 Mighty Asian Moviemaking Marathon (MAMM) in Vancouver. It recently won Best International Film at the Huntington Beach Cultural Film Festival in California.