Q&A: HIGHWAY 61’S VALERIE BUHAGIAR WRITES A NEW CHAPTER OF CHALLENGING FILMS

There is much to admire and muse about in Valerie Buhagiar’s ethereal, out-there latest film, It’s Hard to be Human.

Nina Gilmour in a hospital/holding-area between life and death after a car accident in It’s Hard to be Human

There is much to admire and muse about in Valerie Buhagiar’s ethereal, out-there latest film, It’s Hard to be Human

The film opens on the beat of emergency lights, pulsatingly illuminating bodies strewn across a damp road. A fatal accident has occurred, although how and why and who are not yet revealed.

From there Buhagiar introduces Agnes (Nina Gilmour), a young waif-like teen caught in what seems to be scenes from her past and her present, living in a vortex between life and death. Agnes wakes to find herself in a pristine but (save for a few wandering souls and one dog) an abandoned hospital. The film weaves an intriguing narrative imagining what it’s like, as the title suggests, to be human in a world where God, if he exists, is an elusive parent and the Virgin Mary is a medicated out-patient.

Buhagiar is forever cemented with Canadian cinema and the rock ‘n’ roll road films of Bruce McDonald. She portrayed memorable, independent and robust lead characters in Roadkill (1989) and Highway 61 (1991). Buhagiar became fascinated with the process of filmmaking and creating her own stories, beginning in 1993 with the short film, The Passion of Rita Camilleri (based on the tragic death of a close friend)

Now, mere days after releasing her second feature film, It’s Hard to Be Human, Buhagiar leaves for Malta to begin shooting a third feature.

Valerie talked to Original-Cin’s Thom Ernst about the root of her passion for filmmaking and It’s Hard to be Human.

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