A nearby town is on the big screen.
Troy Ruptash grew up in Vegreville and was a competitive figure skater for many years. He eventually moved to Vancouver to train and it was there that he realized he wanted to work in film. He auditioned for Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto, made it in, and started his career from there.
Ruptash was an actor for several years before getting to direct his first play in Los Angeles -- he fell in love with directing and went on to run a few theatre shows.
Eventually, he wrote the screenplay They Who Surround Us which became a finalist in the Duplass Brothers' Hometown Heroes competition.
"It far surpassed my expectations in terms of how I thought this would come together," he said. "I knew I had a great team around me but it is my first film. But when I saw it I thought 'wow. This feels like exactly the film I wanted to make.'"
The movie is about a Ukrainian farmer in Vegreville who loses his wife in a tragic accident. He has to struggle with his grief that forces him to relive traumatic events from his childhood while also raising his eight-year-old son on his own.
It was filmed almost entirely in Vegreville and Ruptash both directed and starred in the movie.
"I thought it would be amazing to come back here and make a film about my Ukrainian ancestors and the many Ukrainians who had to leave their homeland and come to Canada, and Alberta in particular, and start a new life," he
explained. "I think there are a lot of Ukrainians who feel like they haven't seen themselves represented up onscreen that often, so I'm really grateful that I have had the opportunity to tell this story."
They Who Surround Us has been shown in a few festivals and was met with incredible support and excitement, winning multiple awards for best dramatic feature, best first-time filmmaker and most impactful narrative feature.
The movie is being premiered in Canada on Friday (Aug.27). It will be shown at the Cineplex Cinemas North Edmonton for about a week.
Ruptash is currently working on another Albertan project, this time focussing on the issues with the LGBTQ2+ community in the 1940s.