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Viable to debut in Toronto in March and raise awareness about MS




















Ryerson student Jake Nothdurft will see his hard work on the big screen when the film Viable debuts at Carlton Cinema in Toronto in March. The film is part of a larger movement by students to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis. (Photo by Melissa Vasiliev)

When you think big, sometimes big things happen.

A group of Ryerson University students in the media program, including Stratford's Jake Nothdurft, took on an ambitious project for their final year. It was also personal. Their friend Mary Gyulay was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 22 years old.

The response was to create a 30-minute feature film called Viable and start a movement.

Viable will make its big-screen debut on March 3 at Carlton Cinemas in Toronto.

“We were pitching our idea to a bunch of theatres. Carlton and the staff there were excited about what we're doing and agreed to host our event,” Nothdurft said.

There will be three separate screenings that night-- 6:15 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available at www.viablefilm.com/tickets in advance. There will also be a wide range of items to bid on during a silent auction.

“It's very exciting we have quite a few tickets sold already. People are coming to watch the film we created,” he said.

The film was co-written by Gyulay and tells the story of a young pianist who is diagnosed with MS days before she has an audition with a world-renowned music school. MS is an autoimmune disease that attacks the central nervous system and affects an estimated 100,000 Canadians.

In addition to the film, there has been a growing social media campaign #IAmViable. The Ryerson students have interviewed people with MS and made short videos of them talking about how they have lived full lives in spite of their diagnosis.

One of those interviews was with Stratford's Erin McCann. She was diagnosed at 18 and advised not to have children. She had three—her son Jared plays centre with the Vancouver Canucks. He's in the video too and he credits her with driving him to the rink at 6 a.m. when he was a kid and for being a great role model.

McCann lost the feeling in her right hand to the point where she couldn't hold a glass or a pen. As the disease progressed her balance was effected and she had difficulty walking.

“I think the most frustrating part of having MS is...you know what you want, you know what you want to do, it's making your body do it,” she said in the video.

“To have a goal, to pick something that you are going to do and achieve it, that makes me viable, to have the determination to do exactly what I want to do.”

The videos have reached further than the team of students could have predicted when they started the project.

“We've had people send in videos from around the world,” Nothdurft said, including one from a personal trainer in New York and another from a mother in Australia.

Now the group is putting together a video called #IamViableInternational.

The ability to tell their stories and to see the stories of other people living with MS is an important part of the project, Nothdurft said.

For now though, the film and its upcoming debut is top of mind.

“We want to take this film as far as it can go,” Nothdurft said. “We want to get the story out even further.”

The team of students will pitch Viable to distributors—Northdurft will start an internship in Los Angeles in March and plans to do his best to promote it there-- and to film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival.

“We're going to try our best and see where it takes us.”

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by STRATFORDBEACONHERALD
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length


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