Local Filmmakers Represent the West Coast at VIFF 2013

Seek out flicks with a little local flavour at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival

Credit: Flickr / JMV /

Plenty of local talent will be displayed on the silver screen at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival

Any cinephile worth his or her salt will be checking out this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (Sept. 26 – Oct. 11), and luckily for us, plenty of local talent will be presenting their cinematic work.

On the local front, filmmakers will wring laughs out of STIs, investigate the cover-up behind diseased salmon, and offer a new, humane take on “the wasteland” (Neil Young’s term) of the Alberta oil sands.

Remembering Babz Chula

In film, TV and theatre, Babz Chula was a charismatic presence, but in 2010 after an eight-year battle, the Vancouver-based actress succumbed to cancer. Now, as part of the 2013 VIFF, two local features look at the actress from both fictional and nonfictional angles.

Credit: Down River /

Down River

Inspired by his friendship with actress Babz Chula, writer/director/actor Ben Ratner’s Down River gives us the story of three young women left to fend for themselves after their mentor, an older woman named Pearl, suddenly disappears from their lives. It stars Helen Shaver, Gabrielle Miller and Colleen Rennison, who may be better known as the lead singer of the Vancouver blues-rock band No Sinner.

Credit: Chi /


In the last months of her life, actress Babz Chula journeyed to a remote clinic in India to undergo ayurvedic healing. Despite a momentary respite when she seemed to be returning to health, Chula would die soon after. Anne Wheeler’s documentary Chi (“life force”) follows the actress on her final journey.

Oil Sands Karaoke

The Alberta oil sands were once again in the news recently when Canadian singer/songwriter Neil Young described Fort McMurray as “a wasteland.”

In Oil Sands Karaoke, local documentarian Charles Wilkinson looks at the oil sands from another perspective, one Young might even appreciate: in the midst of the oil sands and their attendant controversy, five oil workers compete in a karaoke contest. No word on whether one of the songs is “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black),” but how sweet would that be?

Salmon Confidential

We don’t want to be overly alarmist, but there appears to be a problem in our fish stocks. In Salmon Confidential, documentarian Twyla Roscovich accompanies biologist Alexandra Morton as she investigates diseased salmon before being thwarted by the government and industry (apparently, the government allows fish farms to keep their disease information confidential). Prepare to leave the theatre very, very angry – but also, perhaps, you’ll be moved to do something about the threat to our fish supply.

That Burning Feeling

Director Jason James and screenwriter Nicolas Citton mine STDs for laughs in this romantic comedy. After meeting Ms. Right, Vancouver real estate developer Adam (Paul Costanzo) has to make amends with his (recently) wronged exes. That Burning Feeling, the first feature directed by James, also features John Cho of Harold and Kumar and the rebooted Star Trek fame and Ingrid Haas (Chelsea Lately).

Local Filmmakers Represent at VIFF 2013