On The Farm (Unclaimed) is no easy movie-going experience. It shouldn’t be.
The film tells the story of the victims of serial killer Robert Pickton, the B.C. pig farmer who was charged with the murder of dozens of missing women, mostly sex workers from the Downtown Eastside. He was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder in 2007.
A more sensational retelling of the story would be about Pickton, but On The Farm is clearly not about the character portrayed briefly by actor Ben Cotton, who doesn’t have a single line of dialogue and is simply credited as “The Farmer.”
Instead, On The Farm shines a light on the story of the women who were lost in the process of a drawn-out and botched police investigation.
Directed by Rachel Talalay (whose credits include Dr. Who, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow) and written by Dennis Foon (who won a Leo award for his screenplay), On The Farm is based on the book by journalist Stevie Cameron, who spent eight years researching the Pickton murder case.
“We had to find a way to hit the gravity of the story and stay away from clichés,” Talalay said in a phone interview, adding that a lot of time and energy was spent speaking to the families, speaking to the representatives of the DTES, speaking to the Vancouver Police Department’s Victims Service unit, and having a First Nations advisor on set.