‘Porcupine Lake’ Exposes the Power and Vulnerability of First Love

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Porcupine Lake, a film by Ingrid Veninger, screens at NewFest today, and AfterEllen got a sneak peak.

The film tells the coming-0f-age story of thirteen-year-old Bea (Charlotte Salisbury) and Kate (Lucinda Armstrong Hall), who share the intimate experience of friendship and first love over the course of the summer.

If you remember what it’s like to be twelve years old on the cusp of thirteen, you know that it’s an intense, fleeting time in a girl’s life, when connections feel so powerful, and everything seems so overwhelming and exciting and life-altering. The unique and powerful friendships that girls form are unlike any other, and love often blooms, even if it isn’t yet fully understood.

“It’s an intense time in a girl’s life, and it’s so fleeting but so pure and real,” Veninger said of the film, which is her sixth feature.

Is it a lesbian love story? Well, sort of. Because of their age, we don’t really know whether either of the girls goes on to claim any specific orientation. And that’s fine, because that isn’t the point. This is a story about self-discovery, and an intensity and rawness of feelings that come with this magical age that is here and gone so quickly.  The film captures that moment in time, revealing the vulnerability of adolescence and love.

“My mother once told me that she felt her life really began when she met her first best friend, and that resonated with me,” Veninger says. “It’s a specific and fleeting window of time between childhood and adolescence when we pull away from our parent(s) and venture to form our own identity, and it can be overwhelming because there are so many messages telling us who we are supposed to be. When I sat down to write Porcupine Lake I was immediately transported to the whirlwind of being thirteen. I wanted this story to be a heart-trip and, as we know, the heart is complicated.”

In a favorite scene from the film, Veninger describes when Kate asks Bea if she wishes she had a penis. “No, I’m glad you don’t have a penis,” Bea replies. It’s an honest and innocent moment of discovery, of presenting yourself at your most vulnerable to the person whose validation you care about most, and waiting to see if you’ll be accepted or rejected, wanted or unwanted.

The girls share their first kiss, their first feelings of intense friendship and love, and audiences get to travel with them on a journey of awakening and understanding.

Porcupine Lake is making the film festival circuits, screening at NewFest this week and will next screen in December at Whistler Film Festival.

PORCUPINE LAKE – Official Trailer – 2min. from ingrid veninger on Vimeo.

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