The Paramount Theatre in downtown Kamloops was nearly full on July 15 as a trio of local filmmakers premiered the project they’ve created over the past year.
With the help of a Telus Storyhive grant, Russ Walton, Jared Featherstone and Allan McVicar told the story of the disappearance of Ryan Shtuka in the 20 minute film.
Ryan, who disappeared from Sun Peaks on Feb. 17 2018, was remembered by his mother, Heather Shtuka and youngest sister, Juliana Shtuka, at the Kamloops event. His father, Scott Shtuka, hosted friends and supporters during a premiere in their hometown of Beaumont, Alta.
Heather thanked those who attended the screening.
“That I stand here before you feels so surreal,” she said to the crowd. “It’s been 17 months of indescribable grief and unexpected blessings.”
She thanked the filmmakers and added she was proud of their work.
“The story was created with compassion and care. It’s a legacy for them and for Ryan.”
Featherstone also thanked those who attended as well as those who supported them by voting for the project to receive funding, those who spoke on or off camera and friends and family who helped throughout the process.
“What grabbed us about this story right from the beginning was the fact we’ve grown up in Kamloops,” he said. “We’ve been in Ryan’s shoes, we’ve done that walk before. We know how easy it seems at the time but without walking through his shoes that night we really don’t know what happened.
“We don’t have a lot of money, we don’t have a lot of expertise in search and rescue, but what we can do is tell Ryan’s story.”
Walton added the experience, which he described as surreal, helped them understand how the community can respond to a crisis.
“It was emotional but we’re proud,” he said.
The film delves into Ryan’s life in Beaumont, moving to Sun Peaks and the night he went missing. Interviewees include Sun Peaks’ Mayor Al Raine, Sun Peaks Independent News’ editor Jean Strong, Kamloops RCMP’s Cpl. Jodi Shelkie, volunteer searcher Gerry Tremblay and Ryan’s family and friends.
Despite its short length it also covers a variety of theories within the community and highlights the fact that there is no evidence or clues for investigators to say what might have happened.
It ends with a call to action to keep searching for Ryan and other missing people, something echoed by Heather while addressing the audience. She drew attention to the number of people missing and their loved ones experience.
“The fear (of losing a child) is uncompromising and crippling,” she said. “We fear our children will be forgotten only to be remembered by those that love them until we too pass from memory…I stand here and implore you not to forget our children. Our children deserve to come home, for they all matter.”
The film can be viewed on Telus Optik or streamed online on YouTube under the name Peaks and Valleys: The Search for Ryan Shtuka.