The sheer variety of films screened at the 10th annual Reel Canadian Film Festival was awe-inspiring.
Inside the Vogue Theatre, the series of films in the Reel Canadian Film Festival’s lineup jettisoned viewers into completely different worlds, where many of them had never gone before, and may never get to.
It wasn’t your typical Hollywood screenings; the shows featured characters often ignored by mainstream film makers. People like middle-aged Asian mothers, young Australian boys and Indigenous academics.
It was a chance to see the world through the eyes of award-winning film makers, stories that left us reeling.
One film after the other parachuted the audience into a new world, each filled with twists and turns that clung to the imagination long after the films had concluded.
On Friday, the Reel Canadian Film Fest kicked off with a screening of Adventures in Public School. This comedy took viewers into the homeschooled household of Liam (Daniel Doheny) and Claire (Judy Greer). Everything starts to change when Liam switches to public school, and gets his first taste of the outside world. Following the film, special guests Siobhan Williams and Flo Barret took part in a Q&A hosted at The Arts Station.
Saturday evening kicked off with a short film called Threads, an animation about motherhood—the connection between parent and child.
In a nearly abstract depiction of emotion and feeling, discovery and loss, the animation follows the cycle of raising a child and seeing them off when they’re grown.
The second Film, Meditation Park focused on the time after that, when the children are grown and gone.
It was a hilarious and heartbreaking account of a woman finding her own purpose in her later years, after discovering her husband was having an affair. Maria Wang hasn’t worked since she met her husband in Hong Kong. The couple moved to B.C. in order to have a better life, where she stayed home to raise their two children and he worked as an accountant.
Underneath heavy overtones of patriarchy and the disenfranchisement of middle aged women, the film shows a glimmer of hope in Wang’s self-discovery.
The film deals with metaphysical questions through the husband’s breakdown. It gives an intimate look at the pain of change in a shifting society, with shifting traditional values from one generation to the next.
Meditation Park is a refreshing look at life through a demographic that Hollywood Films have yet to embrace.
The festival also featured a short film by Kyle Hamilton about Grace Brulotte, a Fernie local and sit-skier. The film follows her first trip cat skiing and heliskiing, proving that nothing is impossible. The film was appropriately name I’mpossible.
The final film of Saturday night took viewers on a breathtaking journey to Western Australia, telling the story of two young boys who fall in love with surfing.
They hone their skills with the help of Sando, a retired pro surfer who lives in a small house by the beach with his American wife, Eva, a competitive skier from Utah whose career was cut short from a devastating knee injury.
In a mind-bending turn of events; Pikelet falls into a sordid affair with Eva, after Sando takes his friend on a surfing trip through Indonesia and Thailand.
Their adventure into moral obscurity left some squirming in their seats.
On Sunday, it was all about Quebec history; with the first film focusing on the back story of Montreal’s Expo67.
The following film, Hochelaga Terre De Ames, covered 750 years of Montreal’s history, from indigenous battles with the Iroquois that lived on the very land Montreal was built on centuries later.
The film is a riveting story of the heartbreak and violence experienced in the years of European settlement, interwoven with the plot of an academic uncovering Hochelaga, where Jacques Cartier is said to have first met the Indigenous on his trip to the new world.
The archeological site is established in the centre of the Perveival Molson Stadium in Montreal when a sinkhole opens during a football game, swallowing one of the players.
All in all, the Reel Canadian Film festival was a cultural experience that left many both entertained and enlightened.