A scene from Nomoto: a BC Tragedy, which will screen during the Kootenay Film Festival. Photo: Submitted

A scene from Nomoto: a BC Tragedy, which will screen during the Kootenay Film Festival. Photo: Submitted

40 films screening in Nelson as Kootenay Film Festival opens Thursday

The inaugural event runs Thursday and Friday, as well as Saturday in Salmo

Nelson Civic Theatre Society is proud to present the inaugural Kootenay Film Festival. This first edition sees approximately 40 films screening in Nelson at the Civic Theatre on Vernon Street on Thursday, Sept. 29 and Friday, Sept. 30. It will also feature a filmmaking workshop and touring program that took place in Creston this past weekend and will travel to Salmo on Saturday, Oct. 1.

The festival offers a platform for filmmakers to share their works with an audience. The goal this year is to introduce an event that connects film artists with audiences and creates a community for connection. Many of the screenings will be introduced by someone connected to the films.

Thursday night opens with a 6:30 p.m. presentation of Eternal Spring, Canada’s feature film submission to this year’s Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Combining present-day footage with animation, Eternal Spring brings to life an unprecedented story of defiance, including eyewitness accounts of persecution, and an exhilarating tale of determination to speak up for political and religious freedoms, no matter the cost.

After the rise of anti-Asian hate related to the spread of COVID-19, this film also presents an essential narrative featuring courageous Chinese protagonists. It demonstrates that the Chinese regime does not by default represent Chinese people, and reminds us there are remarkable Chinese individuals struggling for human rights, transparency, freedom, and justice.

Thursday’s 8:15 p.m. screening at the Civic Theatre is a presentation of the festival’s touring program. The program is a collection of Kootenay regional short films that show a diversity of work from the region paired with the Super-8 films made during our festival workshops.

The night wraps with a 9:30 p.m. program featuring a curated selection of some of the best short animated films from around the world that were presented at last year’s Calgary GIRAF, Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival.

Thursday night’s 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. screenings are aimed at a mature audience. They include subtitles, some of the short films explore individual’s identities and sexuality, and Eternal Spring has some violence. The touring program is aimed at a general audience.

On Friday the first three films honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. These films offer personal stories of heroes, hard work, resilience, perseverance, community, passion and joy.

At 3 p.m. we present two half-hour short documentaries focusing on local subjects. The first is Nomoto: a BC Tragedy which shares the history of B.C. graduate Kyuichi Nomoto, a successful West Coast church minister who suffers a breakdown in the Kootenays during internment in the 40s.

The second film in the program is Stay Wild, the story of Helen Jameson, an inspirational woman who spent decades caring for injured and orphaned wildlife on her farm in Blewett. This will be the first public screening of this film.

At 4:30 p.m. we present Washed Away, which explores the disrupted landscapes and lives of people who lived on the banks of the Columbia River prior to the dams. Next in the program is Susap: Keeper of Knowledge, which tells the story of Susap: elder; teacher; survivor. It is the story of 72-year-old Robert Louie who escaped residential school at seven years old and went on to live a productive and influential life, while at the same time accomplishing many ‘firsts’ for Indigenous people.

At 6 p.m. we’re presenting the story of the creation of Nunavut as told by award-winning Canadian documentarian John Walker. Arctic Defenders tells the remarkable story that began in 1968 with a radical Inuit movement in Canada. It led to the largest land claim in western civilization, orchestrated by young visionary Inuit with a dream — the governance of their territory — and the creation of Nunavut.

Friday evening continues at 8 p.m. with an uplifting collection of short films that share stories of communities working together to improve their lives. The program begins with collaborative filmmaking projects initiated by festival director Siloën Daley. These AniJams, or collaborative animations, were initiated during the pandemic to help inspire collaborative creation.

The next film in the program is called This Does Not Authorize Re-Entry. In it, three travellers set out across a surreal landscape. Every step forward is one more step from home. Artist Jenny Yujia Shi is an immigrant, visual artist and community arts worker. Shi’s practice explores relocation, permanence and the immigration system through drawing, site-specific installation and cut paper animation.

Two short documentaries close the program.

Doing it for Love: Echo Park Film Centre North introduces us to artists-in-residence Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr. They were hard at work creating a playful space for exploration in filmmaking with neighbours in Vancouver’s Moberly Park when the pandemic hits. How can they connect community when we can’t actually be together? This short film reflects on the resilience and richness of artists and community working together through difficult times.

Employ to Empower aims to empower individuals through personalized support and entrepreneurship in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, a place that is often presented as one of Canada’s poorest postal codes facing insurmountable inequity and need of innovative solutions to help heal the divide.

The evening wraps with a 9:30 p.m. presentation of playful short films from the coast to Calgary. In this program you’ll see mockumentaries, experimental animation, and local music videos!

All of Friday’s screenings are suited to a general audience. We hope that you can join us for one or a number of screenings over the two days. Admission to the screenings is by donation.

Saturday’s screening of the program in Salmo will go ahead outdoors at the Youth and Community Centre at 8 p.m. complete with concession and warming fires. Before the screening, from 3 to 7 p.m., there will be live music and an intimate fall market.

The Kootenay Film Festival acknowledges the generous support of the Government of British Columbia, Telefilm Canada, National Film Board of Canada, Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance, Columbia Basin Trust, ArtSpace Creston, Chautauqua Fernie, Salmo Valley Youth and Community Centre, Kootenay Film Society, Carbon Arc Cinema Co-op, Animation Festival of Halifax, Quickdraw Animation Society, Nelson District Arts Council, Rona, Nelson Chamber of Commerce, and Nelson Civic Theatre Society.