The family of a missing Beaumont man hopes the release of a new film will help them figure out what happened.
Ryan Shtuka seemingly vanished from an alpine resort in British Columbia’s interior on Feb. 17, 2018. The 20-year-old left a house party at Sun Peaks Resort, B.C., in the early-morning hours, but has not been seen or heard from since.
This week, a documentary titled “Peaks and Valleys: The Search for Ryan Shtuka” was released on YouTube. It chronicles Shtuka’s disappearance and the ensuing police and volunteer searches. It features interviews with Shtuka’s parents, friends, Mounties, volunteer searchers and local media.
“When I see the movie, I can’t run from it anymore,” said Ryan’s mom, Heather Shtuka, who has viewed the film several times.
She said there are three points in the film that bring down her emotional walls. The first is the opening scene, which shows the construction of a missing person’s billboard with Shtuka’s picture on it.
"That always gets me.because who would've ever thought you'd have to do that?” she said.
The filmmakers, who live in nearby Kamloops, BC, initially met the Shtuka family through a fundraiser they organized to support ongoing search efforts.
“It was definitely an emotional experience,” co-producer and co-director Russell Walton said of making the documentary.
“You spend hours and hours and in some cases, like with the family, days, with these people who’ve been just so fundamentally affected by his disappearance, it can’t help but affect you,” he said.
Walton and his colleagues were present for the one-year anniversary of Shtuka’s disappearance. It coincided with an RCMP press conference during which Mounties, alongside Ryan’s parents, stated they did not have any evidence or clues as to Ryan’s whereabouts and appealed to the public for information.
“Someone knows something. We need people to come forward,” said Syd Lecky, superintendent with Kamloops RCMP.
The 20-minute film also addresses some so-called conspiracy theories that have been conjured online about what may have happened to Shtuka, some so outlandish, they did not make it into the film.
“I can tell you we have heard some really far out, almost offensive, theories from people. And there’s still occasionally people coming up to us and telling us, like, 'Oh, he’s been abducted and sold into sex slavery.' All these kinds of ridiculous things,” Walton said.
“For the family to hear that kind of thing, especially with how involved social media has been with this story, is pretty crazy.”
Ultimately, Walton said he and his colleagues hope the film does something to advance and ultimately close the investigation.
“That’s our hope, right? I mean, that someone sees this and sees the media attention around it and really puts two and two together or chooses this as their time to bring answers forward to really give family closure.”
“To not know what happened to Ryan…that can be a whole other level of tragedy that the family is going through."
For the Shtuka family, who search the Sun Peaks area in some fashion every month, they hope the film can have an impact and not just on Ryan’s case.
"Even though it's a documentary about Ryan, he’s not the only one who's missing. He's not the only one parents are desperate to find answers for."