Sonia Gemmiti is a Montreal-based filmmaker and multimedia installation artist. In 2019, she received the Cayle Chernin Award for Media Production for her script Outside My Window. With the support of the CCA and mentor/Associate Producer Guy Maddin, Sonia went on to produce and direct a narrative short film based on her award-winning script—an expressionist exploration of agoraphobia and isolation.
Her multimedia installation piece, Cabinet Fantastique: Ghost City, debuted at Come Up to My Room 2019, exhibited at the Gladstone Hotel, and was subsequently at Myseum of Toronto’s Intersections festival and dance: made in canada/fait au canada. The piece was also featured in Designlines magazine and Creatives of Toronto.
In addition to her work as an independent artist, Sonia has had a distinguished decade-long career as a Set Designer in feature films and television. Her credits include The A-Team (2010), The Big Year (2011), Old Stock (2012), Robocop (2014), Maps to the Stars (2014), Rookie Blue (2015) Suicide Squad (2016), and Bitten (2016). Sonia was also a member of the design team behind Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (2015), nominated for the Art Directors Guild Excellence in Design Award (2016).
I have sat and observed life outside my window for years. It has been at times both isolating and a strange sense of comfort. During my bouts of agoraphobia – which stem from social anxiety – getting up to put on my coat, gather my keys, and open the front door can feel impossible. In the summer, I hope for it to rain. In the winter, a blizzard – any excuse to remain inside. I begin step one of a routine, and make my way to step three, before reversing back to the beginning. I start and stop, reorganize, re-calibrate. Start the ritual again. To quiet my mind, I picture someone silently rooting for me to be brave and make the final step in turning the doorknob.
Outside My Window (Face à ma fenêtre) is an expressionistic exploration of agoraphobia and the recurring struggle to step outside my door. It was made at a time before the pandemic. In fact, colour correct was completed just two days before we all went into lock down. It’s been a strange experience to see something I’ve kept hidden (an inability to step out my door) become a global requisite.
After many years working in film/television, I made the decision to take a step back from my role as a set designer to pursue a career as an independent media artist. I quietly worked behind the scenes for many years with award-winning filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and David Cronenberg. But no longer satisfied executing someone else’s vision, I sought the opportunity to express my own vision as a director and storyteller.
In 2019, I was the recipient of the Equity Showcase Cayle Chernin Award for Media Production. As part of a mentorship provided by CSARN, I was able to work with my long-time cinematic hero, Guy Maddin, who came on as an Associate Producer for Outside My Window (Face à ma fenêtre).