Movie Night in Canada: VIFC's Tom Charity on Small Town Murder Songs

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      Now that Vancouver's Pride Week is over, which we celebrated with several special Pride Movie Night in Canada recommendations, we return to our regular programming.

      This time around, we turn to Vancouver International Film Centre programmer and rentals manager Tom Charity.

      Vancouver International Film Centre programmer and rentals manager Tom Charity

      His colleague, Vancouver International Film Festival director of programming Alan Franey, previously recommended the historic film In the Land of the Head Hunters

      When we asked Charity to recommend a lesser known Canadian cinematic gem, he chose the 2010 rural crime-thriller Small Town Murder Songs, directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly.

      The story follows a police officer in an Ontario Mennonite community whose violent past comes back to haunt him when a local murder shatters the calm of his smalltown life.

      As programmer for the Vancouver International Film Centre, you can imagine the sheer volume of films that Charity watches. Needless to say, this one certainly has to be special to garner his endorsement.

      Here's what Charity had to say about why he chose this film and why it stands out above other selections in this genre:

      A small Mennonite community in Ontario is rocked by the discovery of a murdered woman at a local landfill. The investigation pulls in big city cops, but local sheriff Walter (Peter Stormare) has his own theory about who is responsible, a hunch that may be clouded by the bad blood between him and his ex-girlfriend’s new lover.

      With a tremendous original gospel score by alt-rock collective Bruce Peninsula, and an intense performance from Stormare (Fargo) at its troubled heart, this is not your typical crime thriller, but a powerful spiritual drama, deeply rooted in small-town Canadian experience. Five years later, it's the audacious, thundering music that really stays with me. (I always meant to check out Bruce Peninsula's catalogue, never have.) Writer-director Ed Gass-Donelly went to Hollywood and came unstuck with The Last Exorcist Part II despite a script credited to Damien Chazelle of Whiplash fame, and I am happy to report he is currently shooting a new feature, Lavender, with Dermot Mulroney and Abbie Cornish. 

      The film also stars Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan), and Martha Plimpton (Running on Empty, Raising Hope).

      Check out the trailer below to get a taste of what the film is like:

      As luck would have it, the film is available on, as well as on DVD and VOD so you can watch it right away.

      If you enjoy hearing about obscure or unusual Canadian film recommendations, stay tuned for more to come in the near future.