WE Vancouver: Michael Turner presents Skip Tracer

Canada 1977. Director: Zale Dalen
Cast: David Petersen, John Lazarus, Al Rose

Co-presented by Pacific Cinémathèque and the Vancouver Art Gallery in conjunction with the Gallery’s exhibition WE: Vancouver – 12 Manifestos for the City (February 12 - May 1, 2011)

IN PERSON: Writer and Critic MICHAEL TURNER + Skip Tracer actor DAVID PETERSEN ► In conjunction with the Vancouver Art Gallery’s exhibition WE: Vancouver – 12 Manifestos for the City, Vancouver writer and critic Michael Turner presents a special screening of Skip Tracer, Zale Dalen’s legendary 1977 Vancouver feature. David Petersen is impressive in the lead as a zealous debt collector/repo man out to win his company’s “Man of the Year” award for a fourth straight time. To accomplish the feat, he mercilessly harasses an indebted car salesman, in the meantime teaching the ruthless ropes of his trade to a new employee. Skip Tracer earned kudos for its skilful presentation of the day-to-day milieu of debt collecting, and for its caustic critique of consumer capitalist values. “One of the most satisfying features ever made on the West Coast . . . In Dalen’s film the city of Vancouver is a character. It’s an urban labyrinth filled with car lots, parking lots, cheap buildings, tacky offices, noisy streets, junky building sites, unhappy suburbs and tawdry bars. Like no other feature shot in Vancouver, Dalen has managed to portray a part of the city’s soul and to make it resonate throughout his story” (Colin Browne, Simon Fraser University). Colour, digital video. 94 mins.

The Vancouver we see in Skip Tracer, argues Michael Turner, is the Vancouver we know today. Coming a few short years after the collapse of 1960s idealism, the film’s end-of-the-70s depiction of the cruel-hearted, under-construction city anticipates the me-first, greed-is-good ethos of 1980s accumulation, the “rude individualism” of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Brian Mulroney, “Gordon Gecko” et al. It foreshadows Vancouver's response to the Mulroney era, when state regulations were lifted to allow for entrepreneurial activity, and finance supplanted politics as the ultimate power broker.

Also on the program: On Location 1: Elvy Del Bianco's Annotated Film Collection (11 mins.) and On Location 2: Four Double Bills (22 mins.), two moving-image works created by Michael Turner for the WE: Vancouver exhibition. In the first, the titles of 167 Vancouver-shot films run on a credit roll with local arts researcher Elvy Del Bianco’s one-line “pitch” descriptions below each. In the second, eight well-known Vancouver-made films are edited to remove everything from them but their Vancouver locales.

Membership with the Pacific Cinémathèque or the Vancouver Art Gallery will be accepted for this event.

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Known for his fiction and criticism, Michael Turner’s books include Hard Core Logo, The Pornographer’s Poem, and 8 x 10. With Grant Arnold, he co-authored Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs. He presented “Robert Altman’s Vancouver” at Pacific Cinémathèque in 2006 and “James Clavell’s The Sweet and the Bitter” in 2009.


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WE: VANCOUVER —12 MANIFESTOS FOR THE CITY
February 12 - May 1, 2011

VANCOUVER ART GALLERY
750 Hornby Street, Vancouver B.C. V6Z 2H7
24-hour info: 604.662.4719
gallery offices: 604.662.4700

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REVIEWS

"Hands down, this is one of the best Canuxploitation films I have seen."

Canuxploitation Review | full review