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CUFF 2024: George Baron on The Blue Rose

By Ansharah Shakil, April 24 2024—

The Blue Rose, the first feature film directed by young actor George Baron, will be making its Alberta premiere at the Calgary International Film Festival (CUFF). A pastel neo-noir surrealist film starring Olivia Scott Welch and Baron himself as two rookie detectives, The Blue Rose is a film to look out for on this year’s CUFF line-up. 

“I think that what’s cool about this film is that it’s an experience,” Baron said in an interview with the Gauntlet. “This film is very immersive. It’s one of those films — well, if you like it — that you’re gonna wanna watch more than once, to really figure out what the story is really about.”

Baron, who is only eighteen, has previously acted in films like PoliKidz. Here, he balanced the roles of writing, directing and starring in The Blue Rose, which follows himself as Detective Dalton and Welch as Detective Lilly, young partners attempting to solve a homicide case that quickly turns awry and sends them into a nightmarish, eerie alternate reality.

“It’s a detective story but we already know who the killer is from the first scene, so we’re watching these detectives try to solve this mystery but simultaneously we as the audience are also detectives in our own right trying to solve the mysteries of this zany, surrealist world,” he said.

The Blue Rose is set in the 1950s and pays homage to films like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, has previously premiered at festivals like FrightFest 2023 and New York City Horror Film Festival 2023 before making its way to Calgary. 

“It’s the 1950s, but it’s not really the 1950s. It’s this amalgamation of different eras, but there’s still this very distinct look throughout the film, and I wanted to make sure that the film had a very stylistic visual style to it because I wanted it to feel like it took place in its own world, a world apart from our everyday life,” Baron said. “I wanted it to be this escape into this dreamscape of an alternate reality […] to feel almost fantastical, like it was its own magical wonderland.”

The music in the film, as atmospheric as any other aspect of the production, ranges from Lesley Gore and Bobby Vinton to Nicole Dollanganger’s “Heart-Shaped Bed.”

“I knew I wanted to have some classic songs from the 1930s to the 1960s,” Baron said. “But then there’s also newer music […] like “Heart-Shaped Bed” [which is] this very ethereal, nostalgic song [that] encapsulates the energy of the entire film.” 

In many ways, the film subverts the trappings of the traits of the noir genre, and the expectations of its audiences. 

“The visual style in of itself is sort of the antithesis of typical noir films because most noirs are black and white, and I wanted this film to look very lush and to have a really beautiful colour palette to juxtapose the darker subject matter,” Baron said. “We do a lot of flipping the genre on its head. Lilly and Dalton [are both] two very young, queer detectives, Lilly drives the car, and it’s a pink car. The majority of the cast is female, and the hero and the villain are both women.” 

The characters of Dalton and Lilly, who are two of the most compelling parts of the film, are based on an inside joke Baron had with an old friend.  

“Whenever we were in LA and it was raining and it was driving at night we would turn on older music, like “Black Coffee” by Peggy Lee, and we would talk in these like transatlantic 1940s detective voices and we would call ourselves Detective Dalton and Detective Lilly, and that was sort of the birth of those two characters,” he explained. 

For his first time visiting CUFF and Alberta, Baron looks forward to seeing other films in the festival and for The Blue Rose to resonate with audiences. 

“I hope that no matter who the audience is that somebody can find something to connect with in the film, whether it’s the score or the visuals or the ensemble,” he said. “I hope that audience members in Calgary and anywhere else in the world are able to find something in common with one of the characters.” 

Baron calls The Blue Rose a quintessentially Gen-Z film that is able to connect to many audiences.

“It’s made by a fellow Gen-Z filmmaker and there’s not a lot of us, and I really love getting to meet and talk to other filmmakers who are also my age and I love getting to work with people who are also my age,” he said. “We found a really strong, solid audience within younger, more alternative, queer communities. That’s really the audience that I was trying to target with the film, so the more people like that who come out, I think that they are going to see something really special.” 

The Blue Rose will be showing at Globe Cinema on Apr. 26. Tickets can be found on the CUFF website.

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