When I was living in Montreal years ago, I would regularly attend the International Film Festival that the city hosted every summer. I would obtain a pass, and for two weeks straight I would immerse myself in the sheer pleasure of watching films from around the world.
One year, Australian filmmaker John Dingwall held a contest for the viewers. He had written and produced a feature film called Buddies, starring Colin Friels, that centered around the sapphire wars in Australia. But he wasn’t happy with the title, so he was offering the prize of a three-carat sapphire to anyone who could come up with a better title.
Well, I pride myself on creating good titles and headlines – and I love jewelry – so I decided that if anyone was going to win that contest, it would be me. There was a box in which to submit the titles, and over the course of the festival, people could submit as many suggestions as they liked.
I watched the film intently and made copious notes. I entered about 15 different titles in the hopes of garnering that coveted gem. I was so sure of my success, I told everybody that I was going to win.
The day after the festival ended, my phone rang and a male voice at the other end of the line said in a very strong Australian accent, “Hello, Miss Beloff, this is John Dingwall. Did you get your sapphire yet?” With my heart bursting out of my chest, I said, “No, I didn’t.”
“Well, it’s waiting for you at the Film Festival office,” he said.
Since I had submitted 15 different titles, I asked him which one he had selected.
As it turns out, there were two titles that he liked – Down Under (not one of mine) and Sapphire Blues. There was a total of 17 submissions with those titles, so he put the entry forms into a hat and picked one out – my Sapphire Blues.
I was doubly elated because not only had it taken creativity to be the winner, but it was also the luck of the draw. Talk about the power of positive thinking! We spoke a little about the film, and I told Dingwall that there was one scene that I particularly liked.
The main character (Friels) develops strong feelings for his best friend’s girlfriend, but he is too ethical to act on them. This moral dilemma is highlighted in a scene in which he is sitting alone at a campfire, and she comes out of her tent and starts to approach him.
She says, “I just came to say goodnight.”
You can feel the mutual attraction and recognize her obvious attempt to spend some time with him alone.
As he teeters on the horns of his dilemma, he hesitates for a moment and then says, “Goodnight.”
She gets the message, turns on her heels and goes back to her tent.
I told the filmmaker how clearly that scene demonstrated what a man of honor the character was.
Dingwall was delighted. He said that he had spent a lot of time working on that scene and had written pages of script until he whittled it down to that exchange.
“I’m so glad you got that,” he said. “I’m very happy that the sapphire is going to someone who really understood and appreciated the film.”
And I, too, felt very gratified that I had really deserved to win the prize.
I had the deep blue sapphire made into a beautiful ring, which I wear with pride on special occasions.
In the ongoing film that is my life, that scene of my winning the sapphire will always stand out as one of the most memorable.