The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia - Take 5


Curated by Harry Killas
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In the fifth year of “The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia,” we take note of and are thankful for the wonderful audiences that have come out to celebrate the films, participate in lively Q&As, and meet the filmmakers, who themselves are appreciative that their work is presented and remembered. It has also been heartening that directors showcased earlier in the series have continued to make new films, stretching into new genres, and garnering respect. (To wit, recent works such as Bruce Sweeney’s Kingsway, Mina Shum’s Ninth Floor, Julia Kwan’s Everything Will Be, Helen Haig-Brown’s Edge of the Knife/SG̲aawaay Ḵ'uuna, and Keith Behrman’s Giant Little Ones.)

The inspiration for the series is Colin Browne’s The Image Before Us (1986), a short documentary that asks profound questions about how we “read” our own films and what stories persist in our imaginaries of here. What other stories are not presented and consequently need to be?

The series begins with a snapshot of where we emerged from as a filmmaking community. From sponsored films celebrating British Columbians as self-reliant hewers of wood, we move into the personal and social introspect of peoples in the province whose perspectives had been glossed over by the media. Important themes this year include repatriation, as B.C.’s First Nations communities seek to bring back home sacred objects removed to faraway countries; a celebration of Black History Month; and classics from the archive that raise profound questions around ideologies presented in media and our shifting cultural mores.

At year five, we recognize that a history of the “images before us” is in a constant state of revision. While we continue to honour important local legacies, and pay tribute in January to the contributions of Daryl Duke, we acknowledge, with recent work by emerging filmmakers such as Kathleen Hepburn and Wayne Wapeemukwa, that our cinema culture continues to evolve. — Harry Killas

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Harry Killas is a Vancouver filmmaker and Associate Professor of Film + Screen Arts at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Recently, with Ric Beairsto, he completed two feature-length documentaries, Superkids 2 (2018), which explores the lives of five young people identified as “gifted”’ when they were children, and Is There A Picture (2017), on the rise of the so-called “Vancouver School” of photo-based artists. Out in 2019 will be Greek to Me, an autobiographical documentary exploring themes of Greek ethnicity, fathers and sons, and time. This is the fifth year Killas has collaborated with The Cinematheque as guest curator of “The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia.”

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Recent Showings

A mood piece about city life, a promotional travelogue, a portrait of mid-50s Chinatown, and a Vancouver-made WWII propaganda film.
Veteran Vancouver filmmaker Ron Kelly's first fiction feature concerns a young woman torn between anglophone Vancouver and francophone Quebec.
A young Anglican priest is assigned to a remote Kwakwaka’wakw community in Vancouver-born producer-director Daryl Duke’s much-loved telefilm.
Daryl Duke’s heist thriller, winner of six Canadian Film Awards, stars New Hollywood icon Elliott Gould and Canadian idol Christopher Plummer.
The journey of the Haisla people to reclaim their missing G'psgolox totem pole.
Hugh Brody's portrait of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nations is preceded by Anne Wheeler's moving short about a residential school survivor.
Charles Officer's artful documentary on African-Canadian track legend Harry Jerome is followed by a video history of Vancouver's Black community.
Jonathan Tammuz’s boisterous B.C. road movie, winner of six Leo Awards, is preceded by Orphan Black-writer Aubrey Nealon's early short.
Phillip Borsos's captivating boy-and-his-dog survival film is preceded by a lively short about nail making.
Animation classics old and new, from established as well as next-generation Vancouver artists, screen in this lively two-part program.
Vancouver Métis filmmaker Wayne Wapeemukwa’s audacious debut feature is an uncompromising, sometimes fantastical documentary-fiction hybrid.
Anne Wheeler's moving documentary on Vancouver actress Babz Chula is preceded by local filmmaker and painter Jill Sharpe’s Emmy-nominated short.
David Paperny’s poignant AIDS documentary is followed by Harry Killas's film about neon.
Linda Ohama’s graceful film, a portrait of her 103-year-old obāchan (grandmother), chronicles the Japanese-Canadian experience.
For our Season Five finale of “The Image Before Us,” we kick out the jams with Toronto rebel Bruce McDonald’s rowdy faux documentary.