Victoria Film Festival launches with array of B.C. films
Despite attempts to hold in-person screenings, this year’s Victoria Film Festival (VFF) launches on February 5th in its new online format.
While screening films from around the world, this year’s festival sees thirty Canadian-made films enter the ranks of the festival’s prestigious collection. A number of Canadian films screened at the 2020 Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) will also be available for screenings: such as Kim O’Bomsawin’s Call Me Human, Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian, and Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli’s Violation.
Of this year’s Canadian selection, a total of ten films come out of British Columbia with three shorts coming from Victoria itself. Of the selection, only one of the BC films is a full feature, with the majority composed of short films, specifically, short documentaries.
Online passes are available that give viewers access to the festival’s wide array of international and local screenings. Films will be available for streaming from the 5th to the 14th.
Here is a short-list of five B.C.-made films to check out at this year’s festival.
Invasion: The Unist’ot’en’s Fight for Sovereignty
Michael Toledano and Sam Vinal
A revealing and gripping film, Invasion dives into the Unist’ot’en’s ongoing resistance against the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. This documentary provides a first-hand look at the struggles faced by the Unist’ot’en in trying to defend their lands. Their actions, alongside other Wet’suwet’en clans, gave way to a series of actions across Canada in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. Toledano and Vinal’s fly-on-the-wall approach capture several tension-filled moments between the Unist’ot’en, pipeline executives, and the RCMP. With Trudeau’s continued support for the Keystone XL pipeline despite Joe Biden’s withdrawal, the questions this film raises are as relevant and important as ever.
Despite being just a few minutes in length, Nuxalk Radio vividly tells the story of a radio station in Bella Coola striving to keep the Nuxalkmc language alive. The station is a grassroots initiative based out of a small portable, broadcasting Indigenous music, oral histories, and open mic nights. Shining a spotlight on the station’s hosts, as well as the families that listen to it, Nuxalk Radio is both empowering and touching.
Follow My Brain
Cam Webster and Robyn Thomas
Follow My Brain follows the story of Victoria native Cam Webster and his journey with psychosis. Diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder at 19, Cam and his family explore his long and winding road to recovery and how his passion for boxing helped him back on his feet. Cam’s honesty and resilience is coupled with director Robyn Thomas’ organic storytelling, creating an engaging film that encourages introspection. Though some shots come off as very staged, the film is a heartwarming narrative of what it means to come back from the brink.
Though filmed in Germany and entirely in German, Ohrwum emerges from the mind of UVic sessional instructor Connor Gaston. The film is a dark exploration of the destructive powers of paranoia and guilt. Composed of a few long takes and a subtle deployment of dialogue, Ohrwurm makes your skin crawl — it keeps you tense and expecting throughout. Despite the lack of dialogue, the film’s two moments of conversation are extremely well written and reflect the discomfort and paranoia the film aims to expound. Ohrwurm will definitely be a noteworthy entry into this year’s festival.
Arnold Lim’s All-in Madonna brings the genres of mystery and intrigue to small town British Columbia. Though now particularly innovative in its filming, performances by Melanie Rose Wilson and Celine Stubel stand out. The film tells the story of teenager Maddie (Madonna) as she defies her father’s homeschooling and attends the town’s public school, but as she enters into the outside world of the town, Maddie finds herself involved in a mystery surrounding her own family’s past. Touching on subjects of alcoholism, gambling addiction, and racism, the film is an entertaining watch but occasionally feels like a three-part mystery miniseries.