After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Enbridge, broken homes, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo:Canadian films to watch at the VIFF

On the Line. Courtesy of

There's plenty of Canadian content to watch for at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival. A documentary that exposes the dangers of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project, a film that examines a girl's troubled home life and a short film that probes the minds of three female painters will be screened this week. 

On the Line directed by Frank Wolf

In summer of 2010 , director Frank Wolf and cameraman Todd McGowan embarked on a trip following the proposed path of the controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, using sustainable means of transportation (biking, hiking and drafting). Their trip started from Fort Mc Murray, Alberta, to Kitimat in northern B.C., where tar sands oil can be shipped to Asia.

Along the way, the pair stop to explore the areas where the pipeline will be constructed as well as interviewing locals: farm owners, taxi drivers, fishing guides, First Nations.

Although a few of them have mixed feelings about the project, the majority fear the hazard of tar sands and the risks of a potential leak. Environmental damage and joblessness are on the minds of people in B.C. who base their life and culture around fishing, and are intimately connected to nature. 

Wolf's 53 day-trip documents the great forest, mountains, the pristine rivers and lakes, in short, the relatively unscathed Western Canadian nature as a reminder that all of this could be lost with such a project if corporate greed takes over.

 (Tuesday 11 -Granville 7).

Kristen Harris as Beatrice in Passionflower.

Passionflower directed by Shelagh Carter (World Premiere)

It is 1962, the sexual revolution is nigh, and Sarah Matthews (Kassidy Love Brown),a Manitoba suburban girl, is on her way to adolescence.

Sarah's mother Beatrice (a daring Kristen Harris) , a former model, is a profoundly sexual woman who not only faces prejudice within her social circle but also mental instability. After a cocktail party she organized at her home, things start to spiral downward.

Sarah, who witnesses her mother’s shenanigans and troubled ways to deal with her demons, begs her father David (Darcy Fehr) to intervene, but to no avail. She then turns to a school classmate, who shares her same passion for drawing, to serve as her refuge from a wrecked home life.

After serveral mishaps by Sarah, David faces reality and steps up in order to save his family. But will it be too late? 

Passionflower is Shelagh Carter's first directorial effort, based in part, on her own life.

“It is the film that had to be done first as an artist," she commented about the film. "It is personal, honest and very committed to that ‘child’ I was long ago.”

Screenings on Wednesday 12 at Granville 7 and Thursday 13 at the Pacific Cinemateque.


Courtesy of

Bone Wind Fire directed by Jill Shape (World Premiere)

It’s a homage to three of the most remarkable North American painters of their time: Georgia O’Keefe (U.S.), Emily Carr (Canada) and Frida Kahlo (Mexico) in her latest medium-length film, giving voice to their views --through dramatization and narration -- collected from their own diaries and letters as they reflect their lives, their art and their struggles of living in a society did not understand their avant-garde art.

The film – shot in New Mexico, British Columbia and Mexico City, displays a number of photographs depicting the artists’ paintings as well the objects and texture that served as their fountain of inspiration – bones, wind, fire, water, flowers, forest, totem poles.  Sharpe effectively captures Keefe, Carr and Kahlo‘s unbridled passion for colours, art and freedom as well celebrating their very own unique way of perceiving life and sketching it into canvas.

 (Sunday 9 at Granville 7 and Monday 10 at Pacific Cinemateque. Plays in "Water" with "Wait for Rain")

CMYK  directed by Marv Newland

CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) an experimental short that could be described as an abstract in motion with a modern twist : a dance of letters –of diverse font and size—with symbols, registrations, colour bars, codes usually found in the hidden flaps from cartons and containers come to life through animation meticulously integrated with the elements of design.

The musical score, with cellos, violins and acoustic instruments effectively accompanies the frantic movements, adding a psychedelic feeling  to the visual experience.

(Wednesday 12 at Granville 7 and Thursday 13 at Pacific Cinemateque Plays in "Air" with "Spirit of the Bluebird"

More in Film

Howdy, Modi

Patwardhan's "Reason" at VIFF; Gods, guns and goondas in "World's largest democracy"

From China to VIFF: Cinéma Virtualité

Hungry Ghosts: invisible exhibitionists livestream online in Zhu Shengze's "Present.Perfect"

Please touch the artwork

Edo Avant Garde & Ursula von Rydingsvard: cutting edge concretism, old & new, East & West @ VIFF
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.