B.C.–based filmmaker Vic Sarin takes to wee Irish tale A Shine of Rainbows
If one word was chosen to characterize Vic Sarin’s life and work, it would have to be adventurous. In a career stretching back across five decades, his travels have taken him from Kashmir, India, where he was born in 1945, to County Donegal, Ireland, where he made A Shine of Rainbows, a hearty new family film opening here on Friday (April 9).
In between, he worked as a resourceful cinematographer, starting in Australia before moving to Canada to shoot such memorable items as Whale Music, Margaret’s Museum, and The Burning Season, which took him back to India. In the ’80s, he started directing, specializing in kid flicks and historical dramas and still wielding his own camera. In 2007’s Partition, the B.C.–based filmmaker realized his long-time ambition of bringing to the screen a tale of the split, exactly 60 years earlier, between India and Pakistan.
Over time, Sarin received numerous awards, including the Kodak Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a peripatetic cinematographer. This March 27, he was in Toronto to accept the Kodak New Century Award, which updates the earlier prize.
“It’s always nice to get a pat on the back,” Sarin says, calling the Georgia Straight from his West Vancouver home. “Although, really, this was more like a bear hug. There were lots of Toronto people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I’m a film guy from way back,” Sarin says of the analogue medium. “Now, with digital, there’s just a little tweak and you get everything you want, instantly. It was actually a blessing in disguise to get so involved in such a fragile material. In the old days, you had to wait to see the rushes, and there was a lot of excitement in that.”
Watch the trailer for A Shine of Rainbows.
Shine was shot in Ireland on Super 35, a wide-screen version of the standard format, and it stars Aidan Quinn and Connie Nielsen as adoptive parents of a timid little boy. Sarin says Nielsen could have used her own Danish accent, but the Gladiator beauty was determined to go native.
“Even the Irish were totally amazed at how authentic she sounded. She has three kids of her own, like me, so I very much like that, too.”
The parental skills were important in relating to newcomer John Hill, playing the orphan boy.
“It’s tough to make a movie in 28 days when your star is only allowed on the set seven hours a day,” Sarin says with a laugh. “But every film has its own highs and lows. There’s a lot of cynicism in the world, and I want to find some joy and lightness, so I gravitate to projects like this. There’s not enough said about the unconditional love of mothers for their children. And joy, I feel, comes from the people you love.”
The veteran is currently launching a feature documentary on the universal aesthetics of what is considered beautiful. He’s also working with A Shine of Rainbows cowriter Dennis Foon on another historical piece, about Jack Williamson, a young Canadian geologist who journeyed to East Africa in the 1940s and found diamonds there. That makes sense, because looking for jewels in the rough is just what Sarin is all about.