By Tess Malijenovsky
Siblings Brian and Jocelyn Rish of Summerville, S.C., will represent South Carolina at the Beaufort International Film Festival with their 16-minute short “Saying Goodbye.”
“Saying Goodbye” is a heart-warming drama inspired by Oscar, the death-predicting cat who lives in a Rhode Island nursing home and accurately predicts the deaths of the home’s residents. When Jocelyn caught wind of the story from her brother it inspired her to write this short story, which won the 2008 South Carolina Fiction Project and later on the SC Film Commission’s Film Production Fund to produce the short film.
As part of the SC Film Commission’s Film Production Fund’s vision for southern stories, Brian and Jocelyn produced the film in Columbia, S.C. Nineteen University of South Carolina students and five Trident Technical College students were selected to work with hired professionals on the film.
The film and its Southern flavor was also inspired in part by Brian and Jocelyn’s grandmother who recently passed away in a nursing home.
“She loved cats so when I read about the story I thought, ‘Well how would our grandmother react to this death-predicting cat?’ I think it would have brought her a lot of comfort. My grandmother was very, very Southern, hence the character is modeled after my grandmother — it had to be Southern!”
Having grown up in South Carolina, Jocelyn said that they wanted to give the film a warm and gentile feel since the film touches on death as a subject. “We wanted it to feel warm and comforting and to me that is what the South is,” she said.
“Saying Goodbye” tells the story of Alma (played by Rebecca Koon), who arrives at a nursing home heartbroken after losing her family in a tragic accident. Her spunky new neighbor Eunice (played by Edith Ivey from “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) befriends Alma and encourages her to enjoy living again.
Be sure to catch the short at the Beaufort Film Festival on Thursday, Feb. 16, 1:40 p.m. at USCB Center for the Arts. For full festival schedule, screening times and more information, www.beaufortfilmfestival.com.
By Tess Malijenovsky