“Culture filters things, telling us what we should retain and what we must forget. In this way it gives us some common ground, with regard to mistakes as well as truths.”
UMBERTO ECO, THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE BOOK
Curated by Harry Killas
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In our third season of “The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia,” we do a curatorial zoom out to include some of the most culturally and historically significant works ever produced in British Columbia.
We open with In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914), the first feature film made in B.C., and the first made anywhere with an all-indigenous cast. We acknowledge the impressive contributions of our own Hollywood North by presenting McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971) and That Cold Day in the Park (1969), two Robert Altman-directed films from the early days of our motion-picture and television industry. And we celebrate Larry Kent and Peter Bryant, two pioneering indie cinema auteurs, who participated in Vancouver’s various responses to the films of John Cassavetes, the New American Cinema, and the French Nouvelle Vague.
At the same time, we stay on message with familiar themes woven through this multi-year series — films that are personal responses to the contemporary social contexts of place and family, and expressions of the autobiographical. Ross Weber’s masterfully- executed second feature Mount Pleasant (2006) resonates or at least rhymes with the extraordinary changes Vancouver has been undergoing. Julia Kwan’s remarkable debut feature Eve and the Fire Horse (2005) examines themes of family and faith through the eyes of its nine-year-old protagonist. And Patricia Gruben, one of our most cherished avant-garde filmmakers, takes on the non-fiction genre of the autobiographical essay with Ley Lines (1993), her metaphysical meditation on family and place.
With every year, our series has widened its frame, as more homegrown films and filmmakers worthy of scrutiny and study, of remembering, screening, and celebrating, present themselves, just as new and daring films continue to be made.
Our series continues to draw inspiration from Colin Browne’s pleasurable critique of films made in B.C., The Image Before Us (1986), a film that asks us to carefully examine the images before us — what is shown, what is intended, what stories and experiences are omitted, and why?
I hope that the various thematic strands of the series and the films themselves allow audiences to reflect on our present situations here in British Columbia, and that new generations of filmmakers might ask new questions and tell new stories in their films, as they seek inspiration from filmmakers and films that have come before. — 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 is currently working on an expanded version of Picture Start, entitled Is There A Picture, and an autobiographical documentary, Greek to Me. He is Assistant Dean of Dynamic Media at Emily Carr University of Art + Design.