Private Project

Life and the Art of Lying

Charlie, a bubbly queer artist, heads into a new year surrounded by her closest friends. But her plans for carefree fun are dashed when she is suddenly confronted with a health crisis.

Not wanting to burden those she loves with her news, Charlie lies repeatedly to cover up the severity of her situation. With no easy cures at hand, Charlie turns to her medical doctor, Dr. Simone, and chooses to secretly pursue a renegade solution for her illness.

As Charlie's feelings for her best friend Mara grow stronger, the two women are both forced to confront the painful truths they have been avoiding.

  • Emily Schooley
  • Emily Schooley
  • Emily Schooley
  • Angela Martin
    Key Cast
  • Ariana Leask
    Key Cast
  • Kelly-Marie Murtha
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Simone"
  • Miroki Tong
    Key Cast
  • Gregory Arnold
    Key Crew
  • Stephanie Stella
    Key Crew
  • Angela Froese
    Key Crew
  • Anais Rozencwajg
    Key Crew
  • Tamara Hecht
    Key Crew
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, LGBT, Indie, Speculative Fiction
  • Runtime:
    26 minutes 17 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2017
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital (Canon 5D MKII)
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Mzansi Women's Film Festival
    South Africa
    August 4, 2017
    African Premiere
  • Shanghai Queer Film Festival (Screening Series)
    China Premiere, November 2017
  • Cityflix International Film Festival
    November 26, 2017
  • Toronto Short Film Festival
    Toronto, ON
    March 13, 2018
    Official Toronto Premiere
    Best LGBT Short Award, and Audience Award Runner Up
  • Colorado Independent Women of Film Festival
    Denver, CO
    United States
    May 19, 2018
    Colorado Premiere
  • Toronto Lift-Off Film Festival (Online)
    July 15, 2018
  • GLITTER! Oklahoma LGBT Film Festival
    McAlester, Oklahoma
    United States
    July 28, 2018
    Oklahoma Premiere
  • Canada Shorts
    Saint John, New Brunswick
    Eastern Canada Premiere, December 2018
    Award of Commendation
Director Biography - Emily Schooley

Emily Schooley is an award-winning Canadian actor and emerging filmmaker who is known for blending genres and pushing boundaries in her work. She is the founder of Laughing Cat Productions, a Toronto-based production company that focuses on telling intelligent, women-driven stories.

After graduating from the University of Waterloo with an Honours BA in Dramatic Arts, she quickly found herself immersed in the world of film alongside her work in theatre, first as an actor and then evolving to directing, writing, and producing. Now, she continues to work as an actor while simultaneously building her body of work and developing her voice as an emerging filmmaker.

Emily has worked extensively in independent stage and screen media, with projects ranging from small, intimate sets to large-scale feature productions. She is a proud associate member of the Toronto chapter of Film Fatales, and has appeared as as on-camera expert in several documentaries, including 'A Big Set of Lungs' (examining the horror genre) and 'MeAfterToo' (discussing the MeToo movement). In 2020, Emily was selected as one of just 100 Canadian women to take part in Banff Spark, an accelerator program for women in media.

The stories that Emily brings to stage and screen centre around marginalized women's experiences, as told through an intersectional feminist lens; common themes include physical and mental health, trauma, sexuality and gender identity, and the experience of being 'other'. Emily's last two short films that she wrote, directed, and produced - 'Psyche' and 'Life and the Art of Lying' - have both won awards and are now available to watch on VOD. Her work has screened internationally, including in the US, UK, Europe, Africa, and China.

Outside of her creative projects, Emily is an activist and animal enthusiast. She strongly supports gender equality and women escaping abusive situations, is an avid watchdog against police misconduct, and frequently speaks out for LGBTQ rights and equal representation in media. She also fosters rescue cats with Team Cat Rescue, an organization that focuses on saving animals from high-kill shelters.

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Director Statement

When I first dreamed up this film - which was created under the working title Reset - it came from two things: one, a stark visual image I had in my mind of a woman on the beach in the snow, and two, an errant thought I'd had about "what if modern medicine had cures for illnesses that they weren't sharing with us?"

Given how much I love Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it's no wonder I grasped on to both ideas and twisted them together into what is ultimately a love story. Films with flawed narrators and complex interpersonal relationships are the ones I naturally gravitate toward watching; also high on my list of favourites are the French film Water Lilies and the cult classic Battle Royale. All three of those films are influential on my work in their own ways, from my preference for long takes to the careful interplay in dialogue between what is said, what is meant, and what is left unanswered.

As a woman, I want to center strong women's stories; not stereotypical comic book heroines but women who could easily be our best friends, our sisters, our lovers. As a queer woman, it is even more important to me to write about our tenuous relationships with other women, where we might not always get the girl or the happy ending, but goddamn it we deserve more media where that's a possibility.

Perhaps ironically, Life and the Art of Lying strives to be an honest film, in that it is meant to be a slice of real life, which is often messy. People don't always say what they mean. Some relationships work and some don't, and sometimes the line between friend and lover is blurry. Simple truths can be too easily misunderstood or complicated. You might be on top of the world one day and feel absolutely crushed the next.

And as always, the world spins madly on.