Unfortunately for writer-director Jason Bourque, much of his breakout feature Black Fly—screening September 27 and 30 as part of VIFF’s B.C. Spotlight—is drawn from his own life experience.
“When I was 13, we lived on the Kingston Peninsula, just outside of St. John, New Brunswick,” Bourque explains, calling the Georgia Straight from his home off Commercial Drive. “A lot of people don’t leave there, too much. So you get a really interesting community. It’s rusted pickups and old farmhouses and a lot of quirky characters.”
Among those characters? Multiple murderer Noel Winters, whom Bourque met on at least one occasion. “He shotgunned a couple of neighbours, and a local kid disposed of the bodies with him, and some other kids found the garbage bags with these human remains. Those aspects of the film were all inspired by real events.”
Winters killed at least four people. But Bourque takes pains to make sure his character loosely based on Winters, Noel Henson (played by Matthew MacCaull), is not entirely without redeeming qualities. “I’m hoping that at the end, the audience will feel somehow that with this guy they should despise, there’s something that is likable about him,” he says. “Especially his loyalty to his younger brother.”
Dakota Daulby, at a Maple Ridge coffee shop, explains that he had to access some fairly fraught terrain prepping for his role as Noel’s brother Jake. “So much of the film takes place in such a dark emotional state, it’s hard to get there, so we spent a lot of time while shots were getting set up just getting into those mindsets,” he says. “When we filmed our final scene, we all knew it was coming. Normally, we were all very close and talked and hung out between scenes, but that particular day, we just kept our distance from each other.”
There’s no shortage of family turmoil stories in this year’s “mustseeBC” features. Daulby also appears in Sitting on the Edge of Marlene (October 1 and 3), a Sirk-ian melodrama, shot in Maple Ridge, about a young woman’s struggles with her toxic, con-woman mother. Soran Mardookhi’s Turbulence (October 3 and 5) deals with the struggles of an immigrant family to acclimatize to new settings. Two 4 One (October 1 and 3) and Preggoland (September 30 and October 2) both offer unique takes on pregnancy, real and fake. And VIFF late-night-series programmer Curtis Woloschuk’s mumblecore-ish debut as writer, Martin’s Pink Pickle (September 29 and October 1), gives us a humorous, self-deprecating angle on infidelity and abortion, set in Hope and Vancouver.
“I would love for people to vote and show support for B.C. film,” Daulby says, reminding VIFF audiences that the votes they cast for favourite films do count for something. “All these films were filmed in Maple Ridge and Vancouver, and they’re all local actors. Especially Black Fly. We’re all from around here!”
The film that the viewers vote the “Audience Must-See Film” will get an extra screening at the B.C. Spotlight awards on October 4.