How to celebrate #CanFilmDay in Vancouver
I sometimes feel like I’m living in a slightly different version of reality than most of the people around me: one where Vancouver film (and Vancouver television… and Vancouver web series… and Vancouver VR…) is a bigger part of my entertainment diet than film produced pretty much anywhere else.
It used to be lonely in this slightly different version of reality – removed as it is from a mainstream culture that seems to value work created in the States more than stories that reflect who and what and where we actually are – but increasingly there are more and more of us.
You can see it at the VIFF Vancity Theatre and The Cinematheque when hometown fare screens to sold-out crowds, or in the wildly successful crowd-funding campaigns for homegrown indie films, or in the passion that’s been poured into saving the Rio.
Much of the credit for this goes to organizations and voices – like First Weekend Club and Canada Screens and Reel Canada and the National Film Board of Canada and the Vancouver International Film Festival – who’ve been working hard to get Canadians to sit up and lean in to stories produced here at home.
But there’s still work to do – which is why today is one of my favourite days of the whole damn year, because, for 24 hours, the slightly different version of reality in which I exist goes mainstream and becomes a little bit more normalized.
Today is National Canadian Film Day (or #CanFilmDay, in the parlance of this social media world). The brainchild of Reel Canada, National Canadian Film Day represents a confluence of free screenings and programming all across the country to get people excited about films made by Canadians, for Canadians.
In Vancouver, this means a flurry of events at some of our favourite venues:
Celluloid Social Club: Screenings of critically acclaimed short films, including Black Chicks (written by Van Helsing showrunner Neil Labute), 2018 Vancouver International Women in Film Festival standout Send Us Smokes (pictured above; it’s about a young Canadian girl is determined to send a package of cigarettes to her dad who is serving in the trenches during World War One, just as the post office is about to close), and pipeline satire No Reservations, as well as an episode from the locally produced web series Girls vs the City, and the trailer for The Age of Adulting. 8pm at the Anza Club. Hosted by David C. Jones. More info here.
The Cinematheque: Free screenings of two acclaimed works of socially conscious, regionally centered, feminist filmmaking: Loyalties, Anne Wheeler’s powerful drama starring Kenneth Walsh and Tantoo Cardinal that filmmaker Peggy Thompson describes as “was and still is a groundbreaking film”, and Werewolf, Ashley McKenzie’s first feature about two recovering junkies in Nova Scotia. Wheeler will attend her screening and McKenzie will Skype in after hers for a Q&A. More info here.
The National Film Board of Canada: We’ve been singing the praises of the NFB’s virtual reality films lately (here and here), and a few of those (Tidal Traces, Minotaur, Inside Insite, and Blind Vaysha) will be available to experience today in the atrium of the Woodward’s Building. Details here.
VIFF Vancity Theatre: A free screening of Mina Shum’s debut feature, Double Happiness, in which a very young Sandra Oh (in a Genie-winning debut) is Jade, an aspiring actress who makes light of her far-more traditional Hong Kong-emigre parents. (Fun fact: the 35mm print that VIFF is screening is Shum’s personal print, and contains an additional two scenes and three minutes that weren’t in the wide release version). Also screening for free: Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, followed by a Skype Q&A with Colm Feore. More info here.
Rio Theatre: The Vancouver Premiere of director David Strasser’s Delinquent, the first feature-length film to be shot on British Columbia’s Salt Spring Island. Details here.
H.R. MacMillan Space Centre: The Vancouver Asian Film Festival, explorASIAN, partners H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, and the Museum of Vancouver team up to present a spring screening of director Ashley Duong’s A Time to Swim – about a Montreal stay-at-home dad who was one the voice of the resistance for the Indigneous peoples of Sarawak – at the Space Centre. Details here.
Here are some other things you can do today to carry that burning love for Canadian film into next week and month and year:
-Subscribe to First Weekend Club and never miss a screening of a new Canadian film;
-Buy a ticket or two (or more) to Canadian or locally produced films screening at this year’s 2018 DOXA Documentary Film Festival, which runs May 3-13 at venues across the city;
-Peruse the films available for in-home (or on-the-go) screening on the Canada Screens and NFB web sites (including this remarkable NFB channel containing more than 200 films from Indigenous filmmakers);
-Check out the schedule for the Vancouver Web Fest. The 2018 edition kicks off tomorrow and runs for three days, and features work from some of our city’s boldest screen storytellers, including Christina Sicoli (who we profiled on our very first day);
-Support organizations that present local film, like the Vancouver International Film Centre, The Cinematheque, Rio Theatre, Whistler Film Festival, Celluloid Social Club, and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.
Happy National Canadian Film Day, hosers. Welcome to this slightly different (and – I’ll say it – infinitely more fulfilling) version of reality. I hope you’ll stay a while, eh?