Tsawwassen teen walks red carpet at Cannes Film Festival

It’s a breakthrough role for a promising actress and aspiring filmmaker from Tsawwassen.

Grade 10 student Zarina Sterling, who attends South Delta Secondary and the Delta Film Academy, plays the lead in the new short film Child Bride, which recently premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Based on a true story, Child Bride tells the tale of a child bride who is forced to sacrifice her childhood for her family to survive. Her wedding night doesn't go as planned.

Sterling portrays the child bride in the film and at the age of 15, is the same age as the actual character.

Director/producer/writer Mostafa Keshvari, who has won numerous awards for his feature-length film Unmasked, says Child Bride tells an important story.

“The real child bride wanted to escape her fate, but as she tried to do this, she killed her husband. The authorities catch her and she eventually was executed a few months ago. I was writing this script while this was going on,” he said. “When she was executed I thought I now can’t save her, but I can save other child brides by sharing this story.”

Filming took place in Tsawwassen and the surrounding area in January.

“A lot of sponsors helped us to make the movie at a very little cost. Everyone involved is from B.C. telling this international story,” he said. “We are now sending this to as many festivals as possible to raise awareness. The reception at Cannes was really good. We were the only film with this story. Zarina’s acting is what really made the movie. She is the same age. Having a minor to play this role with all the violence is challenging, but she did an amazing job.

“The film is hard to watch, but we wanted to make it shocking to people, authentic and to tell the true story. There are 12 million child brides around the world. We are hoping this film will shock people enough to do something about it.”

Sterling said she was honoured to play the role.

“I auditioned and when I got the role I was shocked and surprised, but to be able to play such a strong character was quite a humbling experience,” she said. “It was a character that had to go through so much.”

Sterling, who is in her third year in the film academy, wants to create her own films one day.

She said walking the red carpet at Cannes was an unforgettable experience.

“It was incredible to be able to go to that,” she said. “Seeing famous people – Willem Dafoe, Sylvester Stallone, I met and spoke with Quentin Tarantino, gave me lots of inspiration. It was incredible to have that experience.”




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