Heather Shtuka is anticipating an emotionally difficult viewing experience at the Paramount Theatre in Kamloops next Monday.
The mother of missing Alberta man Ryan Shtuka, who in February 2018 vanished from a house party in Sun Peaks, will be at the premiere of a Telus Storyhive documentary about her son produced by Kamloops residents Russell Walton, Jared Featherstone and Allan McVicar.
The trio of filmmakers, known as Past 11 Productions, has spent the past year producing the 20-minute film — Peaks and Valleys: The Search for Ryan Shtuka — thanks to a $50,000 grant they received from the telecommunications company, which will begin screening the film on Telus Optik and YouTube on July 15.
Ryan’s parents had an advanced screening of the film.
Heather said she felt the film was “beautifully done” and is pleased with how it turned out.
But, she added, it is hard to watch from an emotional standpoint.
“It just makes it real,” Heather told KTW, noting it’s difficult to process that this kind of production is about her son.
Heather said she hopes people will get a sense of the vastness of Sun Peaks when viewing the film to better understand why she and husband Scott continue to return to the ski resort to search for Ryan.
“It raises awareness about missing people in general,” said Heather. “At the end, they ask the public to keep an eye out for people [missing] in their area.”
Walton said there were emotionally intense moments during shooting, noting they formed bonds with the people they interviewed.
“We’re happy to be through and to have something that people can see and be screened to help bring attention to Ryan’s story because he is still missing," Walton said.
The documentary tells the story of the impact Ryan’s disappearance has had on his loved ones and the type of person he was. The film also details search efforts and looks at theories surrounding his disappearance, Walton told KTW.
Walton said Ryan’s disappearance is still a mystery to him following the completion of the documentary.
“We learned more what we think didn’t happen than [any new] evidence that came forward,” he said.
Filming focused predominantly in Sun Peaks, alongside active searches and the area of Burfield Drive, where Ryan was last seen, incorporating footage of the area from drones.
They also filmed in Ryan’s hometown of Beaumont, Alta. where they spoke with his family and friends.
“We really tried to go to the places where they would feel comfortable talking to us,” Walton said.
Ryan had been living at Sun Peaks since December of 2017 and disappeared at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 17, 2018 after attending a party. He was 20 years old when he vanished.
Ryan is white, stands six feet tall, weighs 180 pounds and has blond hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing dark jeans, a grey and white shirt, blue coat and burgundy ball cap.
Heather said there are no leads regarding her son’s whereabouts, but added she and Scott will continue to search in Sun Peaks.
“Sometimes I feel we’re no further ahead in searching than we were Feb. 19 of last year,” she said.
A screening of the documentary will also be held in Edmonton, at Ellerslie Rugby Park, where Ryan used to play. Scott will be in attendance for that premiere while Heather attends the one in Kamloops with her youngest daughter.
Walton said he, McVicar and Featherstone plan to apply for more Storyhive film competition grants and help other filmmakers in the community.
Peaks and Valleys: The Search for Ryan Shtuka will be shown at the Paramount Theatre, downtown at Victoria Street and Fifth Avenue, at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 15. Admission is free.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and donations to Kamloops Search and Rescue are encouraged.