Werewolf – Ashley MacKenzie

Frame by Frame - Jaime's Blog

Ashley Mackenzie undoubtedly added to Canadian film culture with her feature film Werewolf.  As a fellow Cape Bretoner, seeing a film of this caliber made about life on the Island made me very excited for the future of film in Cape Breton. The authenticity of this film was moving, having seen Cape Breton struggle with many issues, particularly with opioid addiction.  The main characters of this film show us the true depth of this way of living in a very candid way. Centering on addiction, love and reality the film pulls you in all of those directions. This wonderfully shot and edited film is of worth note for its authenticity.

A young Canadian filmmaker, Ashley Mackenzie is sure to build from here and you can see why in this short roll up of her Q & A after her screening at The Ottawa Arts Court in April 2018 on National Canadian Film Day hosted by The Canadian Film Institute.

This film should be celebrated for many reasons as the cinematography, emotion and raw aspects of lives mundane suffering, longing to break free platitudes are all encapsulated in this work.

See a few highlights of her post screening Q & A here.

 

Never Steady, Never Still

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

“A poetic study of familial relationships straining and strengthening under the pressure of serious illness.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International

A mother struggles to take control of her life in the face of advanced Parkinson’s disease, while her son battles his sexual and emotional identity amongst the violence of Alberta’s oil field work camps in director Kathleen Hepburn‘s feature film Never Steady, Never Still.

Shot in Ford St. James, British Columbia, the film was nominated for 8 Canadian Screen Awards.  Catch the film at the Bytown  Cinema in Ottawa this weekend.

Here’s the trailer.

8 Minutes Ahead

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

“When their dying father makes a sudden change to his will, two half-brothers from different worlds – one a Hong Kong labourer, the other a Vancouver businessman – must decide what they value most – money or family.”  That’s the synopsis of Ottawa filmmaker Ben Hoskyn‘s first feature film 8 Minutes Ahead.

Congratulation to director Ben Hoskyn and the cast and crew of ‘8 Minutes Ahead’ on the Ottawa premiere of their film at the historic Mayfair Theatre on April 15

Directed by Hoskyn, the film stars Raugi Yu (DaVinci’s Inquest), Chang Tseng (Romeo Must Die), Brian Burrel Theresa Wong (Supernatural), Benedict Wong and Jane Wong.

8 Minutes Ahead was produced by Nate Estabrooks & Ben Hoskyn based on a script by Allan Mackey, Nate Estabrooks & Nick Dolinski.

Shot in Hong Kong and Vancouver, the film had its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival in December 2017 and will enjoy its Ottawa premiere at the Mayfair Theatre on Sunday April 15th.

Here’s the trailer.

Meditation Park

Spotlight on Canadian Films - OCanFilmFest

Vancouver writer/director Mina Shum‘s 1994 first feature Double Happiness was a breakout hit and winner of the Best Canadian Feature film at TIFF.  It was featured on a recent episode of CBC Televisions The Filmmakers series.

Her new film Meditation Park is a bittersweet comedy about a devoted Chinese-Canadian wife and mother in East Vancouver whose life and family are forever altered after she discovers an orange thong in her husband’s pocket, forcing her on a journey of truth and liberation.

The film stars Pei-Pei Cheng who has had an incredible career in China as a martial artist and actor most recognized in North American from her role in the critically-claimed Crouching Tiger, Hiden Dragon. Rounding out the cast are Tzi Ma, Don McKellar and Sandra Oh. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and opens in theatres on March 9, 2018.

Independent Theaters Are Cool

For years independently owned and operated theaters have become a rare thing.  Growing up there were plenty of neighborhood-based theaters that ran a variety of Hollywood, independent or really any films that would fill the seats.  I have happy memories of Sergio Leone shoot-fests, foreign films etc. at the Capital on Rideau, the original Bytowne, the Mayfair etc.  So most of those theaters are still here and doing a great job in delivering films where spandex is not the prevailing fashion sense.

What’s changed is just how important this role has become in our current situation where while. We have plenty ways to deliver content across a variety of platforms and modalities, the actual ‘movie going’ experience has become less available as major chains focus on algorithm-based content that reduce choice and availability.  To which I don’t fault them for doing so, its a business after all and the fact that any chains thrive at all in the Netflix universe is magic to me anyways.

Independents give you the choices you wont find in chains  but also give you the experience of a theater which, for me, is a big part of the deal.  Independents provide the opportunity for a new artist to see their work on the big screen, for festivals to reach out to their audiences as well as specialized programming to meet other needs. By extending choice independently owned theaters extend the experience of movie goers and for that they should be treasured.