Prisoner set for Langley release

 Michelle Loughery painted this portrait of Sveva Caetani, a Vernon artist held captive in her home for 25 years. -  shot in the dark
Michelle Loughery painted this portrait of Sveva Caetani, a Vernon artist held captive in her home for 25 years.
— image credit: shot in the dark

Langley Film Nights Shot in the Dark will host a special screening of Sveva, Prisoner of Vernon on Wednesday, Nov. 14 with director Q and A to follow.

The 91-minute documentary was directed by Jim Elderton and spans 80 years in the bizarre life of one of Vernon, B.C.’s most famous residents, artist Sveva Caetani.

In 1921 Sveva’s father, a rich Italian aristocrat, brought his family to Canada when Sveva was three years old. 

He had chosen to live in Vernon, then a small farming community.  Her mother ruled her life, and did everything possible to suppress her creative talent, but her father taught her about literature, art and cultural freedom.  

When she was 17 he died of cancer, and her world completely collapsed. For the next 25 years she was trapped by her mother in a house in Vernon, and it was only when her mother died that Sveva, at 43, was free to follow her one true passion, painting.

She died 13 years ago:  her life touched hundreds of people, yet very few know the whole story. 

Her paintings can only be described as remarkable, but even though she’s now rated on a par with the Canadian ‘Group-of-Seven’, in death she is still trapped:  she is still virtually unknown:  “just another local artist”.

Using interviews with friends, archive footage and reconstructions, family photos, her own writings, and dramatic examples of her work, Vernon’s award-winning filmmaker Elderton treats her heart-breaking yet heart-warming story with a gentle greatness that brings Sveva to the Canadian centre stage.

The Nov. 14 screening of Sveva — Prisoner of Vernon will take place at Chief Seapass Theatre in the Langley Fine Arts School, Fort Langley

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Pass holders will be admitted free

For non-pass holders, the cost is $5. Collections will be accepted for the food bank.

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