Fun Facts: Michelle Thrush

Canadian actor Michelle Thrush is the subject of the eponymous short documentary directed by Shannon Kaplun and narrated by Adam Beach. Thrush, one of the stars of APTN’s Blackstone and CBC’s Arctic Air series, is especially unique among the Canadian film and television industry. Here are a few funny and interesting facts about what was going on behind the camera for Kaplun, and about Thrush herself:

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  • Michelle lived ‘off the grid’ with her two children for 2 years. They had to grow, hunt and collect their food and water.  In the winter they had enough solar power to watch 1 DVD! They had no cellular reception – a talent agent’s nightmare.
  • Kaplun says the three biggest challenges of making this film (and others in the Catch the Dream bio series) were geography, power, and communication–she had to work with four different male producers from three different cities and time zones in two different countries!
  • Did you know that lamas are fiercely protective?  They are gentle with children but drive off wild cats – the crew worked with three of them when shooting Michelle’s main interview at wildcat ranch near Calgary. You can see them in the credits, which Kaplun considers an especially fun memory making this documentary.
  • Thrush’s big screen debut was alongside Johnny Depp in Deadman from 1995.

Don’t miss the short documentary Michelle Thrush Sunday, March 9th 1:00-3:30 pm.

#Daretotell why you are interested in watching this film to win prizes in our social media contest.

Fun Facts: 5 Ways 2 Die

A dark comedy about a man fumbling his several suicide attempts? How can a festival show such a film about such a serious topic? For our Festival Committee, the question was more like how could they not show this witty, funny short from Cyprus by Daina Papadaki. As it turns out, things were just as amusing behind the camera–here are a few fun facts about this must-see short:Image

  • Director Papadaki found selecting the most appropriate coffin for a funeral scene to be one of the most morbid things she has done in her filmmaking career! The solemnity was all for naught when there was a mix-up in the order: when the coffin arrived, not only were parts of it missing, but it was an open casket coffin with glass! The film’s art director, Lisa Tsouloupa had to scramble to transform the goofy purchase into the casket you see in the film.

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Behind the Scenes at VIWIFF 2014: Choosing the Festival Films

This year’s festival had over 500 submissions this year from around the world, yet the festival is only showing a total of 33 films. How did we come to choose these films? What made them stand out? Here’s a behind the scenes look at what a film goes through to get into the festival.

Submitting Films

For a film to be qualified for the festival, women must hold at least three key creative positions including: director, producer, cinematographer, lead actor, composer, editor, etc. It was fine of course for one woman to hold all three roles, but if the film even had two women involved in key creative positions, no matter how good it sounded, it did not qualify.

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Movies for Activists

Film is such a powerful medium with which to communicate a message or raise awareness about an issue or problem. Subtle details and nuances can prove to be highly provocative statements, and allegorical films can be powerful critiques against a given regime or system. Attending a film festival such as the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is activism in itself–it is only one of three festivals in Canada dedicated to films made by women.  As has been discussed on this blog before, the gender disparities in the Canadian film in television are still a huge issue, with Canadian women fare behind their male counterparts in both annual earnings and opportunities, period. Supporting festivals such as ours is therefore especially important if you care about missing voices, overlooked stories, and challenging the status quo. If you’re an activist or a free thinker, these films should be at the top of your watchlist.

El Regreso

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El Regreso (The Return) by Patricia Ortega is a narrative fiction that explores the tragic and true events of April 16, 2004 in the Wayuu community of Bahía Portete, at the Colombian Guajira, a territory split between Colombia and Venezuela.  Given that it focuses on this painfully recent history, it is no doubt one of the most powerful films of the festival. Ortega will be present following the film for a panel discussion. The story is told from the perspective of Shuliwala (Daniela González), a 10-year-old girl who is forced to flee her home for an unknown city. The film is a bold contribution to the fight against racism while portraying little-known images of the Wayuu indigenous community. By focusing on a specific ethnic group, Ortega proposes a universal approach that vindicates the struggle for the rights of indigenous people.

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Fun Fact Friday: Boneshaker

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Boneshaker, a short by Frances Bodomo caught the eye of our Festival Committee for its stunning cinematography and unique story–there’s nothing else quite like this film in the festival. Quvenzhané Wallis (star of Beasts of the Southern Wild and the upcoming adaptation of Annie co-starring Jamie Foxx) adds star power to a superbly crafted story. Here are a few other interesting facts about this film: 

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Spotlight on Students: Political Science & International Relations

Our “Spotlight on Students” series focuses on movies that might appeal to students (of all ages, and who are currently attending college/university or not) of certain specialties. Whether you want to get extra credit on a paper by referring to one of the films below, or if you want to see the film and spread the word to your peers (sounding extra cultured and sophisticated, of course), you can’t go wrong with these picks.

Movies for Political Science & International Relations

How People Live by Lisa Jackson

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This exceptionally well-crafted documentary by Lisa Jackson focuses on the forced relocation of the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Nations. The documentary delves into the most recent 100 years of history of these Nations, to their forced relocation in 1964, to present. Personal interviews, recollections, and archival footage provide an important reminder that we are not in fact in a post-colonial world, and offer a fresh perspective on histories deadened by Canadian high school textbooks. A timely, must-see for those interested in the Idle No More movements, and those who need to be shaken from the idea that Canada is a highly peaceful and tolerant nation state.

Sunday, March 9th at 1:00

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Equality On Screen in Canada: How Are We Doing?

 “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

Focus on Women 2013 report prepared by Dr. Amanda Coles

This year’s Focus on Women 2013 report prepared by Dr. Amanda Coles for Canadian Unions for Equality on Screen (CUES) had sober findings examining gender inequality in the Canadian independent screen-based production industry.

The quote above was emphasized in the report as stunningly few women in this Canadian industry advance up into key creative and decision making positions at the same rates at which men do. With few role models and seemingly fewer opportunities for women as the statistics in the report suggest, it is easy to see how prospective female employees cannot envision a rewarding future in this industry.The report noted,

“A gender balance of men and women within departments is more prevalent in entry level positions, such as Production Assistants and Camera Trainees. Yet as with other occupations and industries, the gender split within departments sharply favours men who progress up decision making levels, and income brackets, at much higher rates then women.This is particularly evident in some of the key creative positions that define Canadian content.” 

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Posts We Love

Looking for a new perspective on women involved in filmmaking or TV? Here are some excellent reads useful for any WIFTV member or festival-goer. 

Written Off: Why Aren’t Black Female Screenwriters Getting their Due? by Nijla Mu’min

What a Witch: Girlhood, Agency, and Community in ‘Kiki’s Delivery Service’ and ‘The Little Mermaid by Megan Ryland

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