If there was anything positive that resulted from the cinema closures over the pandemic, it has been the new connections and relationships formed with distributors and other exhibitors all having to navigate those hurdles together.
Vancouver International Film Festival previously was, well, Vancouver centric, but as their festival was forced to go online in 2020 and then hybrid this past year, VIFF has recognized its ability to reach beyond Vancouver and connect with other B.C. communities with its programs and resources.
The Nelson Civic Theatre was invited to present a simultaneous screening of the Indigenous Canadian film Monkey Beach for VIFF’s 2020 festival opener along with Kamloops Film Society and now both theatres are taking part in the Vancouver International Film Festival launch of the VIFF Pop-Up Festival. This new initiative delivers festival favourites to audiences across B.C., with the inaugural events taking place in partnership with the Kamloops Film Society at the Paramount Theatre and Civic Theatre (May 27 to 31).
The Civic Theatre is truly excited for this opportunity to work with VIFF again. The Nelson VIFF Pop-Up program features six diverse Canadian films from the 2021 festival. On opening night, May 27, Kicking Blood, an idiosyncratic genre offering from Vancouver tells the story of Anna, a centuries old vampire, who watches Robbie, a charming but reckless young man, recover from his alcoholism, inspiring her to quit blood and restore her humanity.
On Saturday, the timely documentary The Last Tourist by Tyson Sadler puts the role of modern tourism on trial and reveals the real conditions and consequences of one of the largest industries in the world. Also on Saturday, Michael McGowan’s All My Puny Sorrows, based on the 2014 international best-selling novel by Miriam Toews, is the poignant story of two sisters, one a concert pianist obsessed with ending her life, and the other a writer who, in wrestling with this decision, makes profound discoveries about herself.
On Sunday, Haya Waseem’s Quickening centres on a Pakistani-Canadian university student having fallen in love for the first time, with her classmate Eden. Sheila desires a freedom that her mother and father are unwilling to offer. After Sheila has sex for the first time with Eden, he abruptly breaks up with her, and her sense of reality begins to unravel, further alienating her from her friends, family, and community.
Later on Sunday, Kaveh Nabatian’s Sin La Habana from Quebec, winner of the Best Canadian Film Award at VIFF 2021, which tracks Leonardo and Sara, a young Afro-Cuban couple who are desperate to leave the island. They decide that the best way to emigrate is for Leonardo to seduce a foreign woman, get legal status in another country, and then send for Sara. The woman they choose is Nasim, an Iranian-Canadian divorcée who is running from an oppressive past and yearning to have fun for the first time in her life.When Leonardo convinces Nasim to marry him, he is able to move to Montreal, but his plan derails when real emotions get in the way.
And closing the festival on Tuesday, May 31, winner of the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at VIFF 2021, Trevor Mack’s comedy-drama Portraits From a Fire, is a coming-of-age film that follows Tyler, an eccentric and lonely teenager who spends his days filmmaking, vlogging his Indigenous community, until he meets Aaron, a mysterious, charismatic, and influential figure who encourages Tyler to showcase his most personal film about his mother’s disappearance to the community, leading to a reckoning between past and future, life and death, and father and son.
And what VIFF event wouldn’t be complete without a chance to meet with some of the directors? The Civic is thrilled to be able to host Blaine Thurier, former member of the indie supergroup The New Pornographers, and the director of the opening night’s film Kicking Blood.
Visit civictheatre.ca to purchase tickets per title at regular box office prices or spring for a festival pass with access to all six titles for the low price of $35.
Jason Asbell is the programming director for The Civic Theatre.