Written and directed by Troy Ruptash (formerly of Vegreville, AB), who played the real Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men, They Who Surround Us (TWSU) honours Ukrainian settlers and their culture.
From the forests of Ukraine, where the UPA struggles to keep the Ukrainian identity alive to the rich farmland of the Canadian Prairies, TWSU is a story of intergenerational trauma, where the past haunts a young Alberta farmer who is dealing with incredible grief after the sudden the loss of his wife.
“They Who Surround Us tells a powerful story, one that I think will resonate with many people,” said Ruptash. “Cultural Identity, connecting to one’s roots, mental health, grief, loss and resilience are all themes found in this story.”
Ruptash, who is based in Los Angeles, will also act in the movie. Free acting workshops are also expected to take place, where extras may be discovered.
The production team for TWSU includes Sandy and Grant Wilde, as executive producers and award-winning producer Rosanne Milliken (all formerly of Vegreville, AB).
The idea for the movie originated after Ruptash noticed that Ukrainians and Ukrainian culture are extremely under represented in the film industry.
After a fateful trip to Ukraine in Nov. 2018, and the discovery of family members he did not know existed, Ruptash returned home inspired to finish the script based on his incredible journey.
“I’ve been working in the film and television industry for close to 30 years with some amazing experiences and opportunities, but nothing compares to coming back to Vegreville to tell the story of my ancestors,” said Ruptash. “Having this opportunity to give back to the community that has supported me all these years has filled me with a deep sense of meaning and purpose.”
Casting is currently being finalized and Ruptash is also working with costume designer, Deidre Hackman and Sundance composer Craig Richey.
Ruptash will be hosting free acting workshops in the latter part of July and early August in Vegreville, for both adults and youth with all levels of experience. Anyone interested in learning more about acting and the film industry is welcome to sign up to participate.
The workshops will include exercises and monologues as well as instruction on what goes into being a background performer (extra) in a movie as there may be upcoming opportunities to be a background performer in They Who Surround Us. (visit TWSU website for details).
“It’s also a great way to maybe find an undiscovered talent who ends up playing one of the lead or supporting roles in the movie,” said Ruptash.
Filming is tentatively set to begin in mid-August.