Prisoner of Vernon ‘a film that had to be made’

Even the most imaginative individuals would be hard pressed to unravel a tale as unique as that of the late Vernon artist Sveva Caetani.

“The Caetani story is so strange no Hollywood writer could improve on it,” said Vernon filmmaker Jim Elderton. “That’s what makes it a gift.”

Elderton spent two years working on the documentary which tells the tale of Sveva Caetani, one of Canada’s most talented artists.

Elderton’s film, Sveva, Prisoner of Vernon premiered at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre in November 2005, to a sold-out crowd.

“This is such a rich subject, there is so much visual material,” said Elderton at the time.

“I run the risk of upsetting people by not including them. I meet people every week who knew Sveva.

“I’ve been working on this for two years. I feel as though I know the woman.”

Caetani moved to Vernon from Italy with her family when she was three years old. Her father passed away when she was 18.

Her mother fell into seclusion, forcing her daughter with her. The gates to the house were locked and visitors were turned away.

For the next 25 years, Caetani did not leave the property.

Finally, at the age of 43, Caetani was set free, able to finish her education, become a teacher, and pursue her art.

Elderton said he feels privileged to have made the film.

“I often wonder ‘why me?’ because there are other filmmakers in Vernon,” he said.

“The story is so well known I am amazed no one else has done it.

“A film had to be made.”

— Vernon Morning Star

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