Category Archives: Vancouver International Film Festival
Published April12, 2013 on Vancouver is Awesome
Jesse James Miller’s feature film Becoming Redwood is rooted in some of his own experiences: his love of golf which led him to turn pro at the age of 19 and hero-worship Jack Nicklaus’s six green-jacket wins at The Masters golf tournament; his hippie father’s flight to Canada as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War; and the shuttle back and forth between his parents after their divorce. But Miller never dreamed as a young boy that his parents would reunite if he beat Jack Nicklaus at The Masters, as 10-year-old Redwood Forest Hanson (Ryan Grantham) does in the Vancouver writer-director’s endearing film.
Becoming Redwood opens in Vancouver today at the Cineplex International Village, one day after the 77th Masters got underway in Augusta, Georgia, with the legendary Jack Nicklaus. who’s won the tournament more than any other golfer, as an honourary starter.
The Story: In 1969, two-year-old Redwood watches helpless from the backseat of a Volkswagen van as his mother Jade (Miller’s wife Jennifer Copping) leaves his draft-dodging father Ethan (Chad Willett) at the Canadian border. Eight years later, his father is arrested for dope dealing in B.C. and golf-obsessed long-haired Redwood (Ryan Grantham) must return to the U.S. to live with his mother, her two teen sons (Tyler Johnson and Todd Potter), her red-neck husband Arnold (Derek Hamilton) and Arnold’s basement-dwelling elderly father Earl (Scott Hylands) in northern California. How to deal with all this trauma? Redwood imagines beating the “Golden Bear”, aka Jack Nicklaus, at the Masters will solve all his problems. Or as the movie’s poster puts it: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Turn Pro.
- Becoming Redwood production still – Courtesy of Jesse James Miller
- Becoming Redwood production still – courtesy of Jesse James Miller
Published October 19, 2012 on Vancouver is Awesome
It’s not often in this series that I get an opportunity to talk about movies where Vancouver plays itself, but once a year several locally-filmed features are screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This year I got to see director Katrin Bowen’s sold-out Vancouver film Random Acts of Romance on my third try last Friday night.
“Sex, Abduction, Stalking and You Thought Romance Was Dead” is the tagline. The film opens in east Vancouver’s Waldorf Hotel with our two married couples out for the evening: Amanda Tapping’s Dianne married to Zak Santiago’s younger man Matt and Laura Bertram’s young wife Holly married to Robert Moloney’s David. Elsewhere in the restaurant is Ted Whittall’s single sleezeball Richard, breaking up with his latest conquest. Add Sonja Bennett’s single, completely wacko stalker Lynne and Katharine Isabelle’s lesbian Bud to this mix of interconnected Vancouverites and you get random acts of violent romance.
At last Friday’s screening, the very tall Katrin Bowen (below) spoke about the importance of setting her movie in Vancouver in all its “rain, sex and awkwardness.” She wanted the city to ”take on a personna”. It helps that 95% of the movie soundtrack is music from Vancouver indie bands, many discovered at the Biltmore and Cobalt Hotels. And that there are so many scenes set in recognizable locations like the denouement of an abduction under the south end of the Burrard Bridge.
But the big question for the director last Friday was: how did you get Vancouver’s Sci-fii Queen Amanda Tapping to star in your movie? It turns out Katrin Bowen and Tapping became fast-friends years ago when Bowen worked as Tapping’s photo double/standin on the first Stargate TV series, Stargate SG-1.
Published September 29, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
It’s not often in this series that I get an opportunity to talk about movies where Vancouver plays itself but the Vancouver International Film Festival is showcasing 17 locally-filmed features in theatres over the next two weeks.
Four of the most-buzzed-about are Sisters & Brothers, the third in Carl Bessai’s trilogy about dysfunctional Vancouver families with real-life friends Cory Monteith and Dustin Milligan as brothers ; mockumentary Sunflower Hour about maladjusted puppeteers vying for a spot on a hit children’s show featuring real-life pals Patrick Gilmore and Ben Cotton; dramedy Everything & Everyone about a group of family and friends with Ryan Robbins’s naked torso in the teaser; and Donovan’s Echo with Danny Glover as a man who returns to his family home 30 years after a tragic accident in a movie produced by veteran Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood.
I met and chatted with some of the filmmakers and cast earlier this month at a VIFF media conference but didn’t get to see any of the filming here, mostly because the low budgets meant shooting is done mainly on weekends with a limited crew. The Sunflower Hour writer/producer/director Aaron Houston told me it took eight weekends, sixteen days of filming, seventeen locations and thirty-four actors to make his caustic and reportedly very funny mockumentary. Eveything & Everyone took only 12 days in Maple Ridge and Alouette Lake; and Donovan’s Echo filmed last November in Fort Langley. So I’ve made an exception in this series and used the VIFF handouts below to illustrate the films not my own photographs. From top to bottom: bearded Dustin Milligan and Cory Monteith as brothers in Sisters & Brothers; bad-ass Irish puppeteer Ben Cotton and his smoking puppet in Sunflower Hour; Gabrielle Rose and her newly-discovered grandson in Everything & Everyone; and Danny Glover in spooky blue on a bridge in Donovan’s Echo.
Low budgets don’t have to limit these films when it comes to promotion though. Vancouver filmmakers are as savvy about social media as anyone in this city. The Sunflower Hour and Donovan’s Echo boast websites, YouTube trailers, facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Everything & Everyone has a teaser on You Tube and a facebook page. Sisters & Brothers has a facebook page and currently rules Twitter thanks to Glee star Cory Monteith’s 800,000+ Gleek followers. Almost everyone involved in that film has a Twitter account including @SisBroFilm and director @CarlBessai.
Sisters & Brothers, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th,