Vancity screening ‘On Corporate Graffiti’

On Thursday, August 30, the Vancouver Public Space Network is presenting an awesome collection of short films about public art, advertising, city hacking and other urban public space issues. Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but one of those short films is my documentary On Corporate Graffiti!

Here Come the Video­freex

It’s a trailer for a documentary that aims to restore tapes from a countercultural video collective called the Videofreex. This gang of young New York artists was originally hired by CBS in ’69 to capture important moments in the youth movement. CBS didn’t like their stuff (too radical!) so they went on to start North America’s first pirate TV station.

Rerooting the Motor City

The Motor City was the first industrial boom town in America to experience massive corporate disinvestment. And in the wake of the global financial crash in 2008, two long-festering narratives went viral.

On one hand media makers relished in pornographic ruin, documenting empty factories and abandoned homes as a spectacle of urban decay. On the other hand Detroit was celebrated as a playground for young and privileged creatives to rebuild. Inclusionary, home-grown alternatives faded into obscurity.

Indie theatres weather the liquor license storm

Following months of struggle with British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, the Rio Theatre in East Vancouver will gradually return to the mixed programming it cultivated before 2012. For most of this year, the Rio operated under an imposed liquor licensing condition that prevented the venue from showing films.

Although the single-screen venue expects to make a full recovery, owner Corinne Lea says her company is not out of the woods yet. “Because our finances got depleted so badly, our biggest challenge is just digging ourselves out of the hole,” Lea says. “Now we’re creeping back.”

Director puts mentorship in focus

Tuning into the Oscars last week, you may have asked: where are all the women directors?

Filmmaker Tracy D. Smith asked herself the same question. Zero women were nominated for directing awards this year, and Smith says their absence leads to a glut of shallow, uncompelling female characters on the silver screen.

“It’s never two women talking about their own experience, only ‘what do you think about what he said or did?’ and so on,” she says of the widespread “male gaze” in Hollywood. “It’s very common and very frustrating.”

So you want to break into Hollywood North?

Like any preteen boy with an overactive imagination, Chris Clark loved monsters. He preferred the blood-sucking murderous variety, but truly anything with claws or scales was acceptable.

Twenty-ish years later, Clark builds monsters for a living. As a Vancouver-based special effects artist (okay, his official title is prosthetic FX tech), he’s punched fur into monkey suits worn in the recent Planet of the Apes prequel, and splattered brains on set of the Final Destination horror franchise.

Filmmaker gleefully reaches for once-forbidden fruit

Sometimes we want what we can’t have. For Vancouver-based filmmaker Katrin Bowen, these words have rang true for sex and television.

“I was raised very religiously and raised without much technology,” the director says of her Mennonite upbringing in rural Alberta. “I didn’t see a TV until I was about 12.” On set of her latest film Random Acts of Romance, Bowen feels she’s come a long way to the sharp-tongued social media jockey she is today.

Local filmmaker takes run at Wall Street

Filmmaker Desiree Lim isn’t one to stay within the confines of traditional narrative cinema.

The Vancouverite’s body of work includes campy behind-thescenes critique of a male-dominated porn industry, the untold plight of Burmese migrants, and many boundary-pushing dramas in between.

At this year’s Vancouver Asian Film Festival, Lim is poised to defy a new set of genre norms with The House: a ghost story that blends personal drama with pointed anti-Wall Street sentiment.

Office Space actor makes compelling directorial debut

Known for comedic roles—most recently a spot on the HBO series Bored to Death—Ajay Naidu flexes his writing, directing and lead acting muscles in Ashes.

Audiences may recall his photocopier-smashing slapstick as Samir in Office Space, but Naidu’s latest indie film role is far from familiar.

Ashes is a dark and edgy portrait of two Indian-American brothers set in New York City’s underbelly. Tackling topics of organized crime and mental illness, Naidu says much of the story draws on his experience growing up “between cultures” in Chicago.

VIFF: Launching local eco-docs

Sitting on a patio across from Mountain Equipment Co-op on Broadway, filmmaker Frank Wolf tells me about how he got into making environmental documentaries.

“I had always done remote wilderness trips around the world,” he says. “I began seeing first-hand how the environment was being degraded.”

Enabled by his day-job at MEC, Wolf has hiked, biked and paddled much of Canada’s wilderness on a shoestring budget. Beginning in 2003, Wolf added lightweight camera gear to the equation, turning his excursions into feature-length films.

fish tank

REVIEW: Andrea Arnold – Fish Tank

Katie Jarvis never intended to appear in movies.

The now 18-year-old highschool dropout was discovered on a scummy East London subway platform while embroiled in a venomous spat with her boyfriend. With that in mind, it is no surprise the unlikely star bursts with raw teenage malice in the role of Mia, a young and underprivileged outcast living in a disheartening British slum . . .