National Canadian Film Day 150: 5 picks among the many free screenings in Vancouver

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      With 30 free events scheduled so far, National Canadian Film Day (NCFD 150) will be all over the city next Wednesday (April 19). Here are five of our picks:

      Skip Tracer

      When Atom Egoyan was asked to program an influential Canadian film to precede his visit to the Vancity Theatre on Wednesday, he chose this cold snap of paranoia from the late ’70s about a debt collector fighting to win his fourth man-of-the-year award at a sleazy finance company in Vancouver. This is your city in its dark ages: all peeler bars, construction, and wiry little businessmen brandishing steel pipes. Essential viewing, with writer-director Zale Dalen in attendance.

      Vancity Theatre (4:30 p.m.)

      Stories We Tell/Archangel

      Planting yourself in the Cinematheque for the night isn’t the worst idea for NCFD 150. A stellar program begins with the pairing of Window Horses director Ann Marie Fleming’s crucial short “You Take Care Now” with Sarah Polley’s hauntingly autobiographical Stories We Tell. Right after that, Oscar-winning animated short “Ryan” is billed with Guy Maddin’s delirious 1990 effort, Archangel—a film so beautifully lost in its own mood of amnesia that you’ll wonder how you got there when it’s over.

      Cinematheque (6 p.m.)

      Double Happiness

      Chinese-Canadian life had precisely no representation on the big screen when this unassuming gem came out of nowhere in 1994 and made West Coast Canadian indies feel possible. Sandra Oh became a star as young Jade, a dutiful daughter straining against her parents’ traditions—and secretly dreaming of an acting career (rather poetically in this case). First-time writer-director Mina Shum didn’t do too badly out of it, either. Shum will be in attendance.

      UBC Frederic Wood Theatre (7:30 p.m.)

      An Immersive Virtual Reality Experience

      We’ve tried it, and, rest assured, you don’t want to miss the NFB’s VR demonstration in the atrium of the W2 building from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Among the highlights is “Cut Off’, which lets the viewer accompany Justin Trudeau on his visit last April to the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. The atrium and NFB screening room also play host to a daylong selection of shorts, including Marv Newland’s “CMYK”, and the Oscar-winning “The Danish Poet”.

      National Film Board Pacific Yukon Studio (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

      After The Last River

      As we wrote when it took one of the jury prizes at the 2015 DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Vicki Lean’s devastating exposé on the impact of a De Beers diamond mine on northern Ontario’s Attawapiskat First Nation needs to be seen by anybody with a Canadian passport. Together with the David Suzuki Foundation, DOXA brings the young filmmaker to town for a special presentation.

      UBC Robson Square (6:30 p.m.)

      National Canadian Film Day 150 is the world's largest film festival, featuring more than 1,700 free event across Canada on April 19.