The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia - Take 4


Curated by Harry Killas
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Our fourth season of “The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia” continues to draw inspiration from The Image Before Us (1986), written and directed by poet, scholar, and filmmaker Colin Browne. In this documentary essay film, within the genre of the compilation film, Browne investigates and gently critiques the images of Vancouver that have been presented to us in many historic motion pictures, primarily newsreels and travelogues, produced in and about B.C.

“What is the image before us?” Browne asks. “And how did it get that way?” How do we “read” our own films? If one focuses on this story or that image, what about the stories and images that have been left out? What stories and images have been presented and persist in our imaginaries of here? What others are not presented and consequently need to be? Browne’s rich, condensed, pungent, and ultimately moving work asks these questions and sets up our series: What do the films of British Columbia represent to us, and what are the cinematic narratives of here?

As in previous seasons, place continues to resonate in the films this year, with a variety of takes on life across this province, including the Peace River country, Alert Bay, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and Lower Mainland suburbia. Themes relevant to today’s audiences reverberate throughout this season’s series and our province’s film history — from the resource economy to reconciliation with our First Nations; from masculinities and the dark sides of professional sport to the international movements of peoples and our diverse heritages. We acknowledge the continuing phenomenon of Hollywood North, as it addresses themes of the imagination as well as stories from here. And we push into new territory with screenings devoted to “Directions in New Documentary” and “Cult Classics.” Our many highlights include celebrations of the bodies of work of our most outstanding filmmakers, treasures from the archive, and filmmakers in attendance! — Harry Killas


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Harry Killas's historical documentary films about British Columbia include Spilsbury’s Coast; Glowing in the Dark, on the history of Vancouver’s neon art and design; and Picture Start, about the first generation of Vancouver’s “photo-conceptual” artists. A graduate of NYU’s grad film program, Killas recently completed an expanded version of Picture Start, entitled Is There A Picture, and is completing an autobiographical documentary, Greek to Me. He is Associate Professor of Film + Screen Arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Killas has been collaborating with The Cinematheque for the past four years as guest curator of “The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia.”

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Recent Showings

Two celebrated documentaries that focus on the First Nations of Alert Bay, B.C. comprise this Opening Night program.
A "quota quickie," a fishery profile, and a time capsule of Vancouver counterculture.
Chris Windsor's ready-made cult classic, a fond and freaky tribute to the B-movie, is preceded by Danny Antonucci's deranged animated comedy.
Susanne Tabata’s fast-paced chronicle of Vancouver's exploding punk-rock scene combines archival footage, interviews, and loads of music.
An evening of recent works that explore new possibilities in the documentary mode.
Métis filmmaker Christine Welsh's compelling film puts a human face to the conversation around missing and murdered Aboriginal women.
Kevan Funk’s beautifully-detailed debut offers a timely and uncompromising look at institutionalized violence in our national sport.
Tom Scholte’s impressive directing debut, shot in single takes with a hand-held camera, was a Dogme 95 certified production.
The final film directed by Bob Fosse is the rare American-produced Hollywood North movie that actually tells a Vancouver story.
“The ultimate in alien terror!” John Carpenter’s big-budget remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World was shot in wintry Stewart, B.C.
Ripe for rediscovery in our golden age of long-form television, this ambitious six-part miniseries is set against the international refugee crisis.
Frise and Ripper’s Genie-winning documentary about B.C. forestry practices is preceded by Patricia Gruben's sly experimental short.
David Rimmer emerged from the vibrant avant-garde scene of late-’60s/early-’70s Vancouver as a film artist of international stature.
Richard Martin’s document of Vancouver's seismic cultural revolution in the late 1960s and into the 1970s is preceded by his personal landscape film.
Vancouver writer-director Tom Shandel’s spirited social comedy takes satirical swipes at the business, academic, and arts communities.
Tom Shandel's documentary examines Canada's long history as a sanctuary for Americans fleeing troubles south of the border.
Métis/Dene director Marie Clements’s soulful musical documentary is preceded by Yassmina Karajah's award-winning short.