Flick picks: Made in Vancouver, sled-dog doc, marijuana and schizophrenia
Thursday night (January 28) offers three special screening options to choose from, all of which have a social awareness component. Some even court controversy.
Made in Vancouver Film Festival
Films Talk Entertainment and the Celluloid Social Club are presenting an advance screening of I Heart Van Art's Made in Vancouver Film Festival (doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.; Chapel Arts, 304 Dunlevy Street). The film festival is comprised of local short films that will be later shown on February 16 as part of the organization's Made in Vancouver Festival (February 13 to 27), a local arts and culture showcase to be held in Yaletown during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The festival is a response to the massive B.C. arts funding cuts prior the Olympic games, and will provide visitors with a taste of what the city's artists and filmmakers have to offer.
DOXA Motion Pictures Series: Snowblind
Meanwhile, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is currently underway and runs until this Friday (January 29) with its coverage of mountain, outdoor, and winter sports.
The DOXA Documentary Film Festival's third film in their Motion Pictures Series will cover a different kind of winter sport.
Vikram Jayanti's Snowblind (7 p.m.; Fifth Avenue Cinemas, 2110 Burrard Street) chronicles the efforts made by legally blind 23-year-old Rachel Scdoris as she and her dogs train to compete in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a 1,150-mile race from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska.
While Scdoris faces physical challenges, she also runs into conflicts with her trainer. What's more, the film crew also faced hazards: a helicopter camera crew crashed and a snowmobile camera team fell into an ice crevasse.
However, there's another component to the context of this film.
Sled-dog racing has become a contentious subject. Many animal advocates have raised concerns over injuries, deaths, and the mistreatment of or inhumane conditions for sled dogs. The Sled Dog Action Coalition claims that 142 dogs have died due to this particular race.
DOXA's public relations rep has informed me that the coalition sent DOXA a letter, expressing their concerns about this race.
The coalition is requesting that anyone who is concerned about this race to send a letter or e-mail the race's sponsors. It appears that DOXA has also been added to their list.
The Nature of Things: The Downside of High and Doc Zone's CannaBiz
If you'd prefer to stay at home on Thursday night, CBC TV's The Nature of Things will present The Downside of High (8 p.m.), a documentary from Vancouver's Dreamfilm Productions by Bruce Mohun and narrated by David Suzuki that explores the link between marijuana and mental illness.
Watch the trailer for The Downside of High .
Three British Columbian youths, who spent several months in psychiatric wards and continue to struggle with mental illness, talk about how they and their doctors believe marijuana use triggered their schizophrenia.
The interviewees, who are all 23 years old, include Tyler, the director's nephew, who was a top student but had to drop out after he started to experience psychotic episodes at age 14. There's also Melanie who experienced marijuana-induced psychosis at age 19 and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Ben from the Gulf Islands who was hospitalized for over a year due to suicidal tendencies.
Some scientists have discovered that youth who smoke marijuana before the age of sixteen are four times more likely to develop schizophrenia and that it doubles the risk of schizophrenic symptoms, such as psychosis, paranoia, and hallucinations.
A contributing factor may also be how modern growing techniques have boosted Tetrahydrocannabinol (more commonly known as the psychoactive ingredient THC) content while simultaneously breeding out the protective cannabidiol (or CBD), which mitigates the effects of THC.
Experts on the subject include doctors and professors from England, the Netherlands, and Canada.
So you can make it an evening of marijuana documentaries, the show will be immediately followed by Omni Film Production's CannaBiz on CBC's Doc Zone at 9 p.m.
The documentary takes a look at Canada's $20-billion marijuana industry, with a focus on Grand Forks, B.C., where some of the most potent bud in the world is grown and has become a part of a local economy devastated by the pine beetle's damage to the forest industry.
The film, which includes interviews with growers, gangsters, and police, explores the complex issue of whether the industry is best left in the hands of smugglers and gangs, or if medical marijuana and taxes are the solution.