The Cinematheque highlights British Columbia's cinematic heritage

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      While the Cinematheque may be renowned for numerous stellar retrospectives of filmmakers from around the world, they're launching a series that will take a look at our own domestic industry.

      The Image Before Us, curated by Emily Carr University of Art and Design assistant dean Harry Killas and screening on Monday evenings from January to March, will offer viewers a chance to get to know British Columbia's screen heritage.

      It kicks off on Monday (January 12) with Colin Browne's 1986 short documentary "The Image Before Us", which compiles archival footage (from across North America) of Vancouver to examine how an image of a place can be created and manipulated, in contrast to reality.

      It'll be followed by Secrets of Chinatown, a 1935 Hollywood oddity shot in Victoria and set in Vancouver. This low-budget crime flick was created to meet a U.K. screen quota for films made in Britain or its empire, and focuses on a detective who discovers an Asian cult may be behind a crime wave. Its xenophobic themes will be interesting to compare to current concerns about Asian immigration and presence in Vancouver.

      Works by acclaimed documentarian Allan King will be highlighted on January 19. His 1956 cinéma verité look at Vancouver's "Skidrow" should prove an interesting comparison to present day conditions, as well as his 1957 view of a farm and a First Nations settlement in "The Pemberton Valley".

      Local forays into the avant-garde and subversive, including experimental short films by the likes of Chris Gallagher, Ann Marie Fleming, and more, will be spotlighted on February 23.

      The classic 1982 dramatic feature The Grey Fox by Phillip Borsos screens on March 2.

      Also, did you know that the first Canadian dramatic feature directed by a woman came from Vancouver? Sylvia Spring's 1971 film Madeleine Is…, which takes on the patriarchy and politics (influenced by the nascent feminist movement of the '70s), screens on February 2.

      For more information on the series, visit the Cinematheque website.

      Also, if you want to get a jumpstart on delving into local film history (or if you missed the centennial screenings in December), there's another screening of the 1914 film In the Land of Head-Hunters at Vancity Theatre this Saturday (January 10). This hybrid of documentary and drama was the first feature film made in the province, the first feature to be made with an aboriginal cast, and the oldest existing film in North America.

      This restoration features the original score performed by Vancouver's Turning Point Ensemble.

      In other local cinematic history, the Cinematheque's education department, which offers media literacy, film studies, and video-production workshops for youths, teachers, and groups, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a free event on January 22. Former and current staff and participants will share their stories of the programs, alongside select screenings of a films made in the program, held over the past two decades.

      In this age of ubiquitous media, these opportunities will enable viewers to become acquainted with our own cinematic history in order to better understand where we come from, not just where we're going.