Best of Vancouver: Film

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      Darndest Vancouver-bred do-gooder during the pandemic

      You never know what that sneaky Ryan Reynolds is going to do next. One minute you think everything’s gone to pot, then Reynolds goes and makes some huge donation or act of charity behind your back.

      Among the random acts of kindness he’s done so far are donating 300 parkas (plus boots, hats, mitts, and socks) for students at Inuujaq School in Arctic Bay, Nunavut; providing a public-service message about COVID-19 to reach young adults in B.C.; organizing a BIPOC trainee program for a Netflix film that he’s filming in Vancouver; donating $10,000 to the Canadian Professional Bartenders Association during lockdowns that closed pubs and nightclubs; and donating $1 million to food banks in Canada and the U.S.

      Although he has portrayed superheroes on-screen, it appears he has become one in real life.

      Best cinema makeover

      The Vancouver International Film Centre timed its renovations perfectly: during the pandemic lockdown. The project had been planned well before COVID-19 reared its ugly head. With everyone stuck at home anyhow, the centre underwent its first makeover in 15 years.

      The $2.8-million renewal included the creation of a new 41-seat Studio Theatre microcinema for presentations to smaller audiences, a New Media Lab with virtual-reality headsets for interactive projects, a video wall, and a relocated concession stand.

      Best reasons to patronize film festivals during the pandemic

      While film festivals have always offered lots of fresh content for filmgoers, that fact is of particular pertinence during the pandemic. If you’ve watched everything on your streaming service and anything else you can get your eyes on, numerous film festivals offer titles that haven’t hit theatrical or streaming releases yet.

      Plus, you can watch them from the safety and comfort of your own home so you don’t have to line up in rain, sleet, or…well, rain (this is Vancouver, after all).

      Currently underway is the European Union Film Festival, presented by the Cinematheque until November 29, and the Whistler Film Festival is approaching, running from December 1 to 20.

      Best Indigenous documentary

      Secwepemc/Ktunaxa filmmaker Doreen Manuel’s extraordinary Unceded Chiefs explains how a group of First Nations leaders, including her legendary father, George Manuel, came together in an extraordinary campaign to protect their Aboriginal title and rights in response to the federal government’s infamous 1969 White Paper.

      In this document, Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet called for assimilating Indigenous peoples and abolishing their collective legal rights. And Manuel’s film demonstrates how the chiefs’ intellect and resilience prevented that from occurring.

      “Today’s movements are only possible because of the struggles of these tremendous leaders,” writer Naomi Klein said in a video clip urging people to watch Unceded Chiefs.

      Best reminder that going for a hike isn’t a walk in the park

      While most people have been sticking close to home during the pandemic, some individuals have ventured into the great outdoors for the first time.

      Unfortunately, some of those individuals have confused activities like hiking with going for a stroll on a Stanley Park trail. With water-related accidents and drownings increasing over the summer and numerous people getting into danger in remote areas, it has fallen upon search and rescue teams, comprised of volunteers, to save people from life-threatening situations that mostly could have been prevented had these individuals done their research and been properly prepared.

      The potential dangers in the natural settings surrounding Metro Vancouver should become readily apparent while watching the five-part documentary series Search and Rescue: North Shore on Knowledge Network, which began on November 10 and follows the valiant efforts of the volunteers of North Shore Rescue (NSR).

      What is also incredible is that the nonprofit NSR does not charge for its services and relies upon donations. After watching, you’ll never go hiking the North Shore mountains in flip-flops and shorts in the midafternoon ever again.

      Best place to rekindle your passion for film rentals

      Sure, streaming services like Netflix and Crave are handy as hell in these pandemic times, but who else yearns for the halcyon days when you could actually hold a movie in your hand, admire the cover art, absorb the synopsis, then go hassle a grumpy clerk about whether it’s any good or not. You can still do that at Black Dog Video, one of Vancouver’s last two surviving video stores. The Commercial Drive outlet carries tons of cult, horror, foreign, doc, queer, Canadian, kids, and classic titles.

      Where else are you gonna find everything from African Queen to Zombeavers?