As Mark Leiren-Young put it, “Before there was an Internet Movie Database, there was an Ian Caddell.” Leiren-Young’s quip came during a video tribute that unspooled during a warm and well-attended memorial to the late Georgia Straight contributor, on Saturday (November 24). That’s assuming that the word contributor adequately describes the film writer’s worth to the paper, which it doesn’t.
Family, friends, and colleagues who gathered at the Vancity Theatre knew well that Caddell’s influence was enormous. His work for the Straight spanned 30 years; he edited the indispensible B.C. film guide Reel West for 24 years; he ran the media office for Vancouver International Film Festival’s first 12 years; he cofounded the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, and he constantly championed indigenous filmmaking on radio, TV, and in print.
Master of ceremonies Terry David Mulligan noted that Caddell was still tabling meetings of the VFCC from his bed in the palliative care ward of VGH before his death on November 7.
“He’s the unsung hero of the B.C film industry,” declared Mulligan, who fought back tears on more than one occasion.
Caddell’s incredible work ethic was also praised in a speech by Straight editor Charlie Smith, who called the gregarious and endlessly cheerful journalist a “Mahatama” while mentioning that he never missed a deadline in his three decades of interviewing Hollywood big shots. In her speech, filmmaker Sandy Wilson remarked, “He loved movie stars, and I think they loved him right back—‘cause he could keep a secret.”
Postmedia film critic Katherine Monk provided perhaps the most emotional moment of the afternoon, referring to Caddell as the big brother she never had, and recalling the time he coaxed her into interviewing the then up-and-coming director Gus Van Sant. She was a student journalist at the time, and another beneficiary of Caddell’s legendary largesse.
“It’s why we call ourselves a community, largely because of Ian Caddell,” she said.
Indeed, all of the speakers—which also included VIFF head Alan Franey and lifelong friends Stephanie Nicolls and Carmen Ruiz y Laza—made the point that Caddell’s boundless enthusiasm for movies, people, and life itself was a powerful and binding force in their own lives and careers.
Perhaps most importantly, Caddell was remembered for being a loving and dedicated father to his five sons: Emmett, Owen, Tobin, Nathan and Adam, the last three of whom closed the speeches with their own recollections.
“Our dad could have been anyone, but we truly hit the jackpot,” said 21-year-old Tobin before all retired to the Vancity atrium to enjoy Caddell’s favourite drink, rum and coke.