Portrait of Sveva Caetani as painted by Vernon artist Michelle Loughery.

Portrait of Sveva Caetani as painted by Vernon artist Michelle Loughery.

Caetani film to screen in Lumby

Jim Elderton's Sveva Imprisoned shows at Charles Bloom Secondary School, where celebrated Vernon artist Sveva Caetani once taught.

In 2005, a film about a former Charles Bloom Secondary School art teacher screened to a tumultuous reception at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

The film, then titled Sveva, Prisoner of Vernon, covered the agonizing life and work of extraordinary Vernon artist Sveva Caetani.

Over the years, it’s gone through several revisions and was re-titled Sveva Imprisoned after acceptance by the Miami International Women’s Film Festival in 2011.

The feature-length film, already seen by 5,000 people, will be coming to the Charles Bloom Secondary School theatre in Lumby on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Brought from Italy to Canada at the age of three by her aristocratic father, Duke Leone Caetani, Sveva was home schooled. She had virtually no friends, and under the harsh control of her mother, Ophelia, her life was one of misery. When her father died, Sveva, then 18, was virtually trapped by her mother in their Vernon home for the next 25 years. It wasn’t until her mother died, when Sveva was 43, that she was finally set free.

After going to Victoria to get her teaching diploma, Sveva was offered her first job as an art teacher at CBSS. There she achieved great success with students, and even now, staff members speak of her with great fondness.

She had by then established herself locally as a talented painter, and one morning while driving to the school she had a startling vision. She imagined, in great detail, an image for a painting which was to become the first of her signature 56-part series titled Recapitulation. The problem at that time, however, was that nobody in the established fine arts world would agree to look at her work. She died, essentially unknown, in 1994.

The art department at Charles Bloom is fortunate enough to have a collection of impressive works by Sveva’s students.

The documentary screening is being hosted by the Monashee Arts Council, and filmmaker Jim Elderton will be there to speak and answer questions about his film. His award-winning career started at BBC Television. He’s had numerous public screenings of Sveva Imprisoned, and in 2010 he won the Okanagan Arts Award for Media Arts.

Advance tickets for the screening are available through the Monasheee Arts Council office located at 1961 Vernon St., Lumby. Call 778-473-3029 for info.  Tickets will also be on sale at the door on the night of the event. Admission is  $7 for adults, $3 for students, and $20/family.