More VIFF picks to start the week: Vancouver Asahi, The Fool, Everything Will Be
EVERYTHING WILL BE: Be what exactly? Alright? That’s what the sign on Bob Rennie’s building in Chinatown says and he suggests in an interview. Julia Kwan’s documentary about the historic neighborhood isn’t so sure. She takes us into stores and upstairs clubs to meet merchants and other denizens to explore what is happening to the area. Number one: it’s dying. Fewer shoppers go there, stores are closing and the new ones coming in are unusual, art galleries for instance. Condos are being built. Some call it Westernizing.
We sit in at a singing club and a mah jong game, and talk to the herbal medicine man and the 90-year-old woman selling newspapers on some outside stairs and get a flood of warm memories mixed with concern about a way of life that’s slipping away. One speaker differs. “The biggest threat?” he says. “When people start thinking of the place as a museum, not as a real place where real people live.” The film is an elegiac tour with great pictures of what is still there. It could use more on why it is declining. Screens Mon., Wed. and Fri. this week. (3 ½ out of 5)
JUST EAT IT: A FOOD WASTE STORY: And it’s a story that’ll amaze you. It’s estimated that some 40% of the food grown on earth is not eaten. It’s wasted for one reason or another. This film explores the reasons and ponders how things got that way and what could be done to correct it. There are experts who lay out the facts and the statistics but a Vancouver couple illustrate the enormity of the issue with a six month experiment. They try to live only on food they’ve found discarded, rescued food.
At first it’s difficult but they soon find what they call motherlodes—entire bins of clean, often packaged food that’s not being sold and has to be dumped. “Best by” dates are passed; French labeling is missing; too much has been produced. There are many reasons. Trips to farms and supermarkets reveal more: fruit has to look perfect or out it goes. Vegetables have to be the right size. Even bananas need to meet a curvature standard. It’s quite a distressing picture and the film by local documentary maker Grant Baldwin (multi-tasking as director, cinematographer, editor, composer and co-scripter) points out that it’s not just food being wasted but also the energy, the fertilizer and water used to grow it. Gloomy subject but presented with a bright and zippy pace. It’s showing Tuesday, next Monday and thanks to on-line voting at the B.C. Spotlight Gala Saturday night. 4 ½ out of 5
THE FOOL: This is a scathing attack on corruption and a gripping thriller at the same time. It’s set in a small Russian city where it seems everybody is on the take. “I can’t help it. I am Russian,” one character says. We get both an immediate problem and the wider corrosive effects on the whole society in this finely tuned film with its vibrant script and acting.
A social housing apartment building has been neglected for years. The welfare clients, old people, veterans and junkies living there are just “nobodies” to the swells who run the town. The last repair was just with paint; the man in charge took the rest of the money for himself. When a young part-time city worker is called in to check out a burst water pipe, he finds a disaster in the making. There’s a crack in the wall nine-stories high. The building is leaning. He barges into a birthday party for the mayor to say it could fall down within 24 hours. She listens, berates her councilors for letting it come to this but also has to protect her back. The film lays out in detail how corruption reaches up through the levels of power and how cynicism down below allows it to carry on. With wonderful acting performances. It screens Monday, Tuesday and next Wednesday. (4 out of 5)