Booming film industry aside, Vancouverites all too seldom see their own stories on the big screen. The Vancity Theatre aims to fix that on Friday (April 20) when the The Age of Adulting gets its premiere on the opening night of the film centre’s Canadian Film Week. The Age of Adulting captures a certain element of the Main Street millennial set in at least two of their favourite activities—bed-hopping and bitching about the city—and stars James Pizzinato as Jason, a disillusioned “former” actor with a few good rants up his sleeve about the creative vacuum he wakes up to everyday.
“You tell me a movie is set in Vancouver and I just get sluggish,” he tells his friend, the aspiring (and ethically challenged) filmmaker Doug (Scott Patey). “I see an image of Science World in the opening of the movie, and then… nothing. Because Vancouver is just boring.“
Reached at his home in Squamish, writer-director Mark A. Lewis happily admits that he poured a lot of his own city-specific angst into The Age of Adulting, which is rather pointedly subtitled There’s Nothing Romantic About Vancouver.
“At that point in my life I was having to come to terms with what my ambitions were, what my dreams were, and the reality that, first of all, I wasn’t Federico Fellini,” he says with a laugh.
On a less wry note, the 43-year-old filmmaker adds that the West Coast of Canada in the 21st century is a long way from Italy in the ’60s. “An environment like that allows a vision to blossom and flourish,” he says. “All the circumstances are aligned. That didn’t exist for me in Vancouver, and that was very frustrating, and so I came up with all sorts of reasons for it.”
In another sense, circumstances were at least well enough aligned for Lewis to conjure the kind of lived-in portrait that Vancouver rarely receives. The film nails a certain feeling of being untethered inside a community of fragmented identities, shared by a group of characters bopping around the Biltmore and the Black Lodge in Ladyhawk and Hard Drugs T-shirts. For many, it’s a recognizable image of at least one of the city’s last thriving subcultures.
No less resonant is the view of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside provided by director Josh Laner’s Ken Foster, screening on Monday and Thursday (April 23 and 26). This unvarnished doc gets intimate with the prodigiously talented street artist, whose paintings—often made on found or sometimes stolen materials (hello foamcore security signs)—have become increasingly collectible.
Foster insists that his muse thrives in the space between schizophrenia and crack addiction, and a psychiatrist and the artist’s own 22-year-old daughter are among those whose bring unexpected nuance to their sympathies. It’s an eye-opener. Twinned with The Age of Adulting, Laner’s film makes for a more high-resolution picture of a city whose complex personality is usually lost inside the transmutation into Hollywood North. Expect nothing boring or sluggish here.
Canadian Film Week takes place at the Vancity Theatre from Friday to Thursday (April 20 to 26). More information is at the VIFF website.