Movie Night in Canada: Filmmaker Nimisha Mukerji on 1972's Wedding in White

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      And so, true believers, onwards we dig through the archives of Canadian collective cinematic memory as we ask film folk to shine a light on forgotten or overlooked Canadian film gems.

      Vancouver documentary filmmaker Nimisha Mukerji came up with an intriguing memory-jogger that many may not have even heard of.

      Mukerji rose to prominence with her debut 2009 documentary 65_RedRoses (codirected by Philip Lyall), which tells the story of Vancouverite Eva Markvoort's struggle with cystic fibrosis.

      She went on to shoot Blood Relative in 2012, a profile of Indian activist Vinay Shetty who is fighting to save the lives of children dying from the blood disease Thalassemia.

      She's taking on completely different subject matter with her latest project, Tempest Storm, about an exotic dancer and burlesque star with a colourful Hollywood career—and private life.

      Mukerji recommended Wedding in White, a 1972 small town drama set during the Second World War. It was directed by William Fruet, who adapted the screenplay from his stageplay.

      The film stars Carol Kane as a 16-year-old girl who is raped by a friend of her older brother. When she discovers she's pregnant, she has to contend with her parents' unsupportive reactions (reflecting prejudices and social mores of the time), which include everything from beating her to trying to marry her off to a 60-year-old friend of the father.

      Although the story sounds bleak (not exactly what you'd call a feel-good, heart-warming, wholesome family drama—but who wants to watch that anyway?), reviewers praised the film for its realistic portraits of a domestic tragedy.

      Here's what Mukerji had to say about why she recommends this film:

      My pick would be 1972's Wedding in White, which I rented from Videomatica when it [the rental outlet] used to be on 4th Avenue. Filmmaker William Fruet is on the same playing field as Kubrick with this masterpiece that marks Carol Kane’s cinematic debut.

      Kane. who feels like a veteran actress in her first leading role, plays Jeannie, an innocent 16-year-old who is bullied by just about everyone, including her family and friends. Jeannie is shy and conscientious, beautiful but awkward, caught in that time between childhood and adulthood. But this is not a typical coming-of-age drama; Fruet sets his film during the Second World War and is interested in the inner-conflicts happening on the home front. We see the underbelly of human nature through the eyes of Jeannie, who loses more than her innocence in this unnerving film.

      It impressed the critics, among them none other than Roger Ebert, who praised the strong performances and the detailed accuracy of the time period. In fact, Ebert gave it four out of four stars in his 1973 review.

      The film also scooped up the best feature film award at the Canadian Film Awards in 1972.

      Speaking of Videomatica and hard-to-find movies, Mukerji and Mark Ratzlaff wrote a blog called Dear Videomatica in which they wrote about movies that they rented at the store (one movie per day) before it closed in 2011. Videomatica's sprawling video collection has since gone to UBC and SFU.

      For more recommendations of obscure, strange, or little-known Canadian films, you can always check out our Movie Night in Canada webpage. And stay tuned, because we've got more cinematic picks on the way.