As we hurtle headlong into whatever lies ahead in 2018, the Cinematheque is giving Vancouverites a moment to reflect upon how Vancouver and British Columbia have been represented on the big screen in the past.
The fourth edition of The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia will take place every Monday at the Cinematheque from January 15 to February 26.
This year's mix covers a wide-ranging expanse of subjects, including First Nations traditions, Downtown Eastside methadone patients, the Site C dam, and murdered and missing Indigenous women. There are also hockey players, punk rockers, fuel-hungry aliens, and unhinged butchers in the mix, which pretty much describes the average group of people you'd encounter on a bus ride in Vancouver.
Things start off with a look at the relationship between Indigenous traditions and Canada in Potlatch: A Strict Law Bids Us Dance. Vancouver filmmaker Dennis Wheeler collaborated with the Kawkwaka'waka First Nations in Alert Bay, B.C., for this documentation of two potlatches: one by Chief Dan Cranmer in 1921, which resulted in 45 people being indicted during a federal ban on the practice, and another in 1974 by Cranmer's daughter Gloria Cranmer Webster, who narrates the film.
The film is accompanied by "Our Voices, Our Stories", a 39-minute documentary by artist Barb Cramner (who will be in attendance) about the 2015 demolition of the St. Michael's Indian Residential School in Alert Bay, which an estimated 9,200 Indigenous children attended from 1929 to 1975.
Also in the program is Métis filmmaker and University of Victoria professor Christine Welsh's 2006 documentary Finding Dawn about three Indigenous women who went missing, including Sto:lo Nation's Dawn Crey from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Susanne Tabata's 2011 documentary Bloodied But Unbowed compiles archival footage, interviews, and music to tell the story of Vancouver's first wave of punk rockers, from D.O.A. to the Subhumans.
A program of short documentaries on February 5 cover subjects such as renting in East Vancouver (2015's "The Joy of Subletting"), the Site C dam project (2017's "Memory of the Peace"), and methadone patients in the Downtown Eastside (2012's "East Hastings Pharmacy").
There's also 1982's Big Meat Eater. In this local entry into the overcrowded B-movie-tribute sci-fi zombie flick musical comedy suburban critique genre, a Burquitlam butcher who has to contend with an employee who murdered the mayor as aliens arrive in search of a rare fuel. Because who hasn't experienced that at least once in their life?
It's appropriately paired with the infamous animated cult classic "Lupo the Butcher" by Vancouver animator Antonucci.
The series closes out on a very Canadian note: what else but hockey.
If you haven't had a chance to catch Vancouver filmmaker Kevan Funk's feature debut Hello Destroyer on the big screen, now's your chance. This critically acclaimed 2016 drama offers an indepth dive into institutionalized violence of hockey, tackling themes of masculinity, work, and success and failure.
It's double-billed with actor and UBC professor Tom Scholte's 2008 directorial debut Crime shot on a handheld camera. This Dogme 95–certified drama depicts what happens when the paths of a university hockey player, an art student contending with a family tragedy, and an alcoholic deli worker supporting her pothead boyfriend intertwine.
To view the full lineup plus screening details, visit the Cinematheque website.