MONICA’S NEWS is the debut feature film from writer/director Pamela Gallant. The film is a dark drama about the loss of innocence set in a fictional rural village in Nova Scotia.

About Monica’s News
It’s 1974, the year before International Women’s Year, and in the outlying Nova Scotia village of Millman, most continue to live their lives defined by tradition. But gutsy and idealistic nine-year-old Casey Richards isn’t one of them. She wants the same rights and privileges as her older brother. She wants a bike with gears, and she’s willing to do what it takes to earn the money to buy one. 

While Casey discovers income and independence with her new paper route, she also witnesses a traumatic event. Her teenage cousin and idol, Monica, rebels against her religious father Chester, and he beats her, mercilessly. When Monica later goes missing, and then tragically, her lifeless body is discovered in the river, Casey is devastated. Some villagers believe Monica accidentally drowned, while others believe the teenager she was dating murdered her. But Casey knows the truth. When she brazenly accuses her uncle of killing his own daughter, her family reacts vehemently. They try everything in their power to silence her, even stripping her of her paper route.

Months later, relegated to babysit the newborn granddaughter of a fiercely independent and ornery older widow, Hazel, Casey finds an unlikely ally and comes to believe the woman’s granddaughter is Monica’s reincarnation. The mysteries surrounding Monica’s death have quieted, but Casey refuses to forget. She confronts Chester, one more time…

Director’s Statement
As a paper carrier myself in 1974, in rural Prince Edward Island, I got to experience exotic new worlds every time I entered a stranger’s home. Each home had a distinct smell, a dis- tinct light, and a tangible energy that exposed its family dynamics. There were lively homes full of dogs and happy drunk men, lonely homes with older widows who longed for company, and then there were homes I dreaded to enter, where negative energies hit me smack in the face as soon as I opened the door, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

My motivation in telling this fictional story is to give voice to the maverick women of that time and place. Although things weren’t always bleak—and hardiness and humour prevailed in villages like mine—I saw individual women get ridiculed, humiliated, and ostracized for wanting the same rights and dignity afforded the men in the village.

Not many women dared challenge the status quo, some actually condoned it, but those who did challenge the norms did so at great personal cost. They also lacked the support networks women could find in larger city settings at the time.

They fought bravely, and alone.


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