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.

VIFF: Dragons & Tigers make noise on the big screen

They’re big. They’re blazing. They’re films from across the Pacific.

With 45 features and 16 shorts, the Vancouver International Film Festival’s Dragons & Tigers series is the largest Asian film program outside Asia.

“That’s true,” confirms Shelly Kraicer, a Canadian film scholar living in Beijing who selected half of the 2011 titles. “The only bigger program looking at Asian cinema is Busan’s festival in South Korea.”