The film, called Limina, is about a “curious gender-fluid child” living in a “small and magical village”, with the Ticino municipality of Lavertezzo standing in for that role.
Having a “gender-fluid” child as the central character touches on a subject that is close to home for Halbedl and his spouse, Joshua M. Ferguson, described by their production company as a “non-binary transperson”.
The film aims to go beyond looking at children as boys or girls to examine those whose gender is not clear cut.
Halbedl, 30, and Ferguson, 32, say they want to encourage acceptance of non-conforming children who do not feel either male or female but identify from a “gender spectrum” of possibilities.
Limina makes a plea for “increasing awareness and tolerance for gender creativity in children that may or may not extend beyond childhood”, Halbedl told The Local.
“What Joshua and I are trying to do is to capture the innocence and beauty of a gender-fluid child in a picturesque village,” he said.
By “gender”, he said, “we are referring to the social construct, not the biological/chromosomal construct”.
The independent filmmakers are now based in Vancouver operating under the Turbid Lake Pictures banner and recently produced a short film called Whispers of Life, which received a Directors Guild of Canada 2014 nomination for best short film.
Halbedl was born in Lucerne and grew up on the Trübsee, a mountain lake in the canton of Nidwalden, where he recalls taking the cable car to go to school in nearby Engelberg.
He still has family and friends in Switzerland, including former classmate Dominique Gisin, the Olympic gold medal winning skier (2014 Sochi Winter Games).
Halbedl described Gisin as “one of our champions and a dedicated supporter of Limina”.
The film has been partially financed through crowdfunding on Indiegogo and the directors have signed up American film and TV actor Shannyn Sossamon (A Kinght's Tale, 40 Days and 40 Nights and The Rules of Attraction) to play one of the main roles.
Why film in Ticino?
“I see it as a chance to combine my adult life and work, with my place of origin, my home country;“ Halbedl said.
“Joshua and I have thought about taking our passion for filmmaking, our art, to Switzerland for a few years now and when we decided to work on Limina next, we knew this would be the perfect film to shoot in Switzerland.”
Halbedl said he wrote the original script for Limina in 2011 but while doing rewrites Lavertezzo “became an immediate inspiration for the story”.
As a child, he said he used to visit Lugano and Locarno, cities in the canton of Ticino, “so I have fond memories of that part of Switzerland”.
When the filmmakers approached the Ticino Film Commission with their proposal “they were immediately on board to support our shoot there”.
Filming is set to beginning this summer.
“We hope to cast some of our characters from the Ticino and other regions of Switzerland,” Halbedl said.
“One of the scenes in Limina will require some extras as well, so we hope to entice some of the locals to join our adventure and become a part of the film.”
For more information about the film check here.