here - Women in Film and Television Vancouver



here - Women in Film and Television Vancouver
9th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
Media Coverage
March 6th – 9th, 2014
Table of Contents
Behind the Scenes at a Vancouver Film Festival: Why Promoting Media Created by Women Matters 1-2
Woman, Action, & the Media
Thriller scores opening slot for Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival (with video)
Vancouver Sun
Kerrisdale Playbook
Pickton murders inspired Karen Lam's revenge movie
CBC arts online
Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off with Evangeline
Georgia Straight
WOMEN IN FILM: Vancouver film festival reflects a much-needed change in the industry
The Link
Afterparty takes the sociable approach to local filmmaking
Georgia Straight
Indigenous women filmmakers celebrated with festival screenings
El regreso de Patricia Ortega
Sin Fronteras Newspaper
Behind the bright façade – an African ménage à trois in Marie Kâ‟s L‟Autre Femme
Remembering the Homelands – Lisa Jackson‟s How A People Live
Patricia Ortega‟s El Regreso – a cinematic debut gem from Venezuela
Woman, Action, & the Media (online)
Behind the Scenes at a Vancouver Film Festival: Why Promoting Media Created by Women
By WAM! Vancouver member Emily Yakashiro
At the age of sixteen I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to anti-violence work, specifically focusing on
violence against women. By 22, my dream had come true, and I had three years of experience working at
a university sexual assault support centre.
I was strangely dissatisfied though. I came to realize that I was not where I wanted to be. I was at an end
of a conversation of sorts, after our media, informed by the rape culture at large, had taken its toll. I
decided that I wanted instead to be at the beginning of the conversation, helping to create and shape the
media we consume.
A little research into the current state of women involved in film revealed sober but unsurprising statistics
for women involved in Canadian film industry. I decided to start investigating what was happening locally
for women in the media by joining WAM! Vancouver chapter last year. Through my involvement with this
group, my attention was brought to the 2013 report, Women in View on Screen. This report showed that
women made up just 22% of fiction directors and 20% of fiction writers. Things were even worse
for racialized women–the study found that out of 78 fiction directors, just 2 were women of colour, and
that racialized women were entirely absent from documentary production.
Things were similarly grim in the Women in View on TV report, with none of the 21 series studied
employing a woman cinematographer, and no racialized minority women employed as directors.
I ended up volunteering for Women in Film and Television Vancouver (WIFTV), an organization which,
among many other things, puts on the annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival. I was the
Submissions Coordinator for the festival, as well as a Festival Committee judge. What better way to
pursue my new focus than to consume more media made by women, and helping to organize event that
recognized the efforts of female filmmakers?
As a Festival Committee judge, I was on a team with seven other women. I was pleased to see that
counting myself, three of us were women of colour. The Festival Committee not only viewed films, but
determined the final program for the festival line-up. Reflecting diversity in our program was important to
me personally as a judge, though this opinion was not necessarily agreed upon by other Committee
members. My logic was simple: women come from all different backgrounds, classes, sexual
orientations, and abilities. Such diversity had to be reflected in our program, period.
Other points of contention within the committee surprised me. For instance, we decided that we
would introduce each block of screenings with a reminder that the festival was taking place on unceded
Coast Salish territory, which is a very standard way to introduce any cultural event in this city. This
decision was not unanimous though, with some judges being of the opinion that such an introduction was
superfluous. Overall, however, I‘m pretty darn pleased with the results: the opening night film for the
festival, Evangeline, is directed by a Karen Lam, a Manitoba-raised, Vancouver-based filmmaker and
woman of colour. What I feel to be the strongest documentary of the festival, How People Live, is directed
by Lisa Jackson, who is Anishinaabe, while the film focuses on the forced relocation of the Gwa‘sala‘Nakwaxda‘xw Nations.
My mission to help change and shape the media, combined with the encouragement and mentorship I
received from my experiences with WAM! and WIFTV has a happy ending for me–as of January 20th, I
made my debut in the production side of the industry as a production coordinator at a local animation
Don‘t miss the 9th Annual Vancouver International Women in Film Festival, March 6-9th 2014. Learn
more about the schedule here, check out the festival blog here.
Vancouver Sun (Online and Print)
Thriller scores opening slot for Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival (with video)
Karen Lam‟s Evangeline is described as a „female revenge fantasy‟
Vancouver International Women in Film Festival
March 6 to 9 | VIFF‘s Vancity Theatre
Tickets & Info:
Steven Spielberg‘s Jaws inspired a lot of nightmares. It also inspired Vancouver filmmaker Karen Lam to
create some nightmares of her own, including Evangeline, her new movie that kicks of the 2014
Vancouver International Women in Film Festival on March 8 (International Women‘s Day).
Jaws, the movie that terrified everyone in 1975, is the first movie Lam‘s father took her to see in a theatre.
She was five.
―I asked him last year why he took me to Jaws and he said, ‗You liked fish,‘‖ said Lam. ―My dad has a
really weird sense of humour.‖
This sense of humour clearly runs in the family; Lam laughs frequently as she talks to The Sun about her
new movie and the meaning of horror.
She describes Evangeline as a ―female revenge fantasy‖ that started as a superhero movie.
―It wasn‘t a romantic comedy,‖ said Lam. ―I think I was channeling something like The Crow. I started with
the concept of a superhero who hunted serial killers in her own way.‖
Her superhero‘s mission was inspired by the tragic reality of Vancouver‘s missing women.
―I‘m a news junkie so most of my mornings start with me reading The Vancouver Sun cover to cover and I
follow stories and I get really involved,‖ says Lam. ―And most of the ideas I come up with start with a really
political bent.‖
And most of those ideas turn into cinematic horror — or at least something scary — since ―horror‖ is in the
eye of the beholder and film festival programmers.
―I think Women in Film considers (Evangeline) ‗horror.‘ In Horrorland they think I do ‗thrillers,‘‖ says Lam
with a laugh. ―In my mind I make thrillers.‖
But she admits that she makes thrillers that are more graphic than mainstream fare.
Her new horror/thriller (her second feature) has already screened in Sweden and at Toronto‘s Blood in
the Snow festival, where Lam picked up the award for best director. The movie stars newcomer Kat de
Lieva in the title role, Richard Harmon (who just picked up a Leo Award for his supporting role in the sci-fi
TV series Continuum) and one of Lam‘s favourite actors, David Lewis, ―who I kill in every film.‖
Says Lam, ―I try to find inventive ways to kill David and occasionally I find out online that someone else
killed him in a better way. He‘ll get harpooned, and I‘m like, ‗Why didn‘t I think of harpooning him?‘‖
Shooting locales included Capilano University and the University of B.C. She also did a bit of guerrilla
filmmaking on Hastings Street ―and we got yelled at by a prostitute.‖
―She was like, ‗You guys might be filming and you think you‘re hot shit but I work here and you guys are
seriously interrupting my business,‘‖ says Lam.
Born in Toronto and raised in Brandon, Man., Lam moved to Vancouver to study law. While she was
working in insurance law, Lam reviewed scripts for BC Film and made short films. ―I thought I‘d be a
producer. Lawyer to producer makes a lot of sense. And then I had a year in which all of my projects
That was 2005.
―In desperation I wrote this script (for The Cabinet),‖ she says.
The script, a short Japanese-style horror film, won a National Screen Institute Drama Prize and launched
Lam‘s career behind the camera.
Asked to explain her passion for scaring people, Lam is happy to talk about her lifelong passion for
macabre movies. She recalls being an eight-year-old visiting relatives in Hong Kong when her aunts went
to see a horror film and came home feeling sick. ―They were so freaked out and so ill, so I wanted to go
By junior high, Lam and her friends lived for scary movies like Poltergeist. ―All of my friends were big
horror buffs.‖
Lam is also game to wax philosophical about why horror matters.
―I think as a society we need it,‖ she says. ―It‘s a place where we channel all our darkest fears and
nightmares … And you can use evil in a metaphoric way with human monsters rather than having to deal
with the documentary version which, I think, is pretty harsh.‖
But Lam feels it‘s always important to remember that unlike mechanical great white sharks, real-life serial
killers are nightmare worthy.
―When you look at real-life monsters, it‘s important to remember that‘s what they actually are,‖ says Lam.
―They really are scumbags.‖
Women in Film and Television Vancouver launched a new mentorship program in February to help new
female actors launch their careers.
The mentors — who will meet with their charges over a six-month period — include Carly Pope, Amanda
Tapping, Gabrielle Rose, Ali Liebert, Christine Willes, Sonja Bennett, Luvia Petersen and Pascale Hutton.
The mentees were selected by a jury that included actor-director Jason Priestley and director-writerproducer Gary Harvey. Its first crop of mentees are Laura Adkin, Elora Braden, Jazmine Campanale, Aria
DeMaris, Ashley Hunking, Kat Karpoff, Jennifer Kobelt, Jennifer Koenig, Kelly Metzger, Quynh Mi, Tijana
Popovic, Sabrina Prada, Briana Rayner, Debra Sears, Olesia Shewchuk, Nicole Shorrock, Jax Smith and
Orsy Szabo.
WIFT also sponsored a new mentorship program for screenwriters. The first three mentees are: Rebecca
Gibson, mentored by Daegan Fryklind (Bitten); Crystal Wood, paired with Karen Walton (Orphan Black);
and Kathleen Hepburn, teamed with Sharon McGowan (Better Than Chocolate). The three mentees are
competing to win Best Screenplay, which is presented at the festival‘s closing night award‘s ceremony.
Kerrisdale Playbook (online)
By Katja De Bock
Filmmaker Karen Lam in front of her first flat in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, on January 14, 2014. Photo by Katja De
When Karen Lam walks by the Louisa Apartments on Kerrisdale‘s East Boulevard, she laughs out loud
remembering how she once almost set the building on fire trying to cook a meal.
A highly educated Asian-Canadian from Manitoba with degrees in English literature and law, Lam never
learned how to cook until she moved into her first Vancouver flat near Arbutus and West 41 Ave.
That‘s twenty years ago now and Lam has moved on to become an incessant cook, passionate tuqueknitter and oh, one of the world‘s few female horror film directors.
Her second feature, Evangeline, about an abused college student seeking to avenge her perpetrators, will
open the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (VIWIFF) on March 6.
In 1993, Lam needed an inexpensive flat
providing easy access to UBC. Kerrisdale was
offered no distractions for the avid student.
Squabbles with elderly neighbours about the
central thermostat in the cellar of the apartment
building were a daily routine.
Who knows if murder was on her mind in that
dark Kerrisdale cellar, but creepy cellar-like
torture chambers with devilish spirits are
abundant in Evangeline, which was partly shot at
UBC. The campus eerily made headlines for
unsolved sexual assaults, which happened
throughout 2013.
Filmmaker Karen Lam in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, on January 14, 2014.
Photo by Katja De Bock
The supernatural revenge fantasy deals with freshman Evangeline (Kat de Lieva), who is missing after
hanging out with an enigmatic, violent fraternity leader (Richard Harmon) and his pals. Beaten and left for
dead in the woods, Evangeline finds herself trapped in a supernatural nightmare, and starts a violent
quest to avenge her perpetrators.
In spite of a brutal storyline and mesmerizing visual effects, the film is not mere entertainment for the
bloodthirsty. It asks the question whether it is better to turn the other cheek or risk losing one‘s soul to
hatred, and what is true justice.
Inspired by B.C.’s missing women
Bits and pieces found through daily newspaper
perusal inspired Lam‘s impressive body of work,
including shorts, television series and two feature
films. The Robert Pickton case, a Port Coquitlam pig
farmer who was convicted of murdering six women
and charged in the deaths of an additional twenty,
made her sad and angry.
Asian action cinema a childhood recollection
True cases as well as inspiration from Asian films and stories like the classic Japanese manga Lone Wolf
and Cub result in Lam‘s revenge stories.
Interestingly, Lam associates Asian action movies with
happy childhood memories, out-time from study and work,
the family gathering in front of the television with a pile of
Asian movies on VHS, loudly snacking on meaty treats.
―Watching the films was probably a time for bonding with
my dad. I was the oldest and he always treated me a bit
like a boy,‖ says Lam. ―If I covered my eyes from a scary
part, he‘d stop, rewind and say, ‗You missed the good bit.‘
I think I learned to appreciate a good decapitation!
―We‘re Asian, so movie nights were never silent. And it
was always food oriented, so my mom would always get
us meat snacks: pepperoni sticks, or she‘d make braised
chicken gizzards and eggs that we would eat cold. I still think good action or thriller films require meat
snacks as accompaniments.‖
Gaining ground on male territory
Although Evangeline has premiered on international film festivals in Sweden and Toronto, Lam says she
feels nervous about screening the film in her hometown at VIWIFF. Opening the festival, which celebrates
women‘s artistic achievements in film, with a horror thriller is a first.
―Karen is an accomplished filmmaker, Evangeline is a beautiful and well crafted film which deserves to be
seen,‖ says Carolyn Combs, Executive Director of VIWIFF. ―We are proud of Karen as she successfully
pursues her work in a genre traditionally dominated by men and highly respect and appreciate the
perspective she brings.‖
―I think it‘s really ballsy of them,‖ says Lam, who won the festival‘s 2013 Women in Film Artistic Innovation
Award. ―It‘s a statement of how far we‘ve come and where we are going next in this industry. It‘s not all
one thing. The young female directors coming up, a lot of them are really interested in genre – why
shouldn‘t we be expanding our horizons?‖
According to Lam, there is still an unspoken hesitation in the entertainment industry to allot bigger
budgeted productions to women.
―I hear that women don‘t direct CGI [computergenerated imagery], they don‘t do action, they don‘t
do genre and don‘t do these commercial ventures.
And yet, what I am saying is that, yes, we do! In fact,
this is all I do,‖ says Lam, who put her own equity on
the line to finance Evangeline, a low budget
Lam is certain most of her films pass the Bechdel
test, which asks whether a work of fiction features at
least two women who talk to each other about
something other than a man.
Death with a touch of comedy
However, in her entire body of work, one short, The Meeting, which will also screen at VIWIFF, stands
out. The comedic thriller deals with a support group for serial killers who lose their cool when a woman
visits the session.
―It‘s my first comedy, and it was my first time working with actors in a different way,‖ says Lam. ―It still fits
in the horror market, but to me, what I really like about it is that it is so character driven, it‘s less about my
visuals and more about just letting these performances come out. As a director, it was fun to explore
Evangeline opens the Women in Film Festival on Thursday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
The Meeting is shown on Saturday, March 8 (International Women‘s Day!) at 7 p.m. together with the
black comedy Finsterworld.
CBC arts online
Pickton murders inspired Karen Lam's revenge movie
Evangeline kicks off Vancouver Women In Film Festival on March 6
By Duncan McCue, CBC News
Karen Lam on the set of revenge horror film Evangeline, which debuts at the Vancouver Film Festival March 6.
Vancouverite Karen Lam is a lawyer-turned-director of horror movies, and her second feature film is
creating a buzz in horror circles.
Evangeline is about a university student murdered by psychopath frat boys, who returns from the grave to
get revenge. Lam won best director award for the film, which she also wrote and produced, at a Toronto
horror film fest this winter.
Evangeline will kick off the Vancouver Women In
Film Festival on March 6. But first, Lam sat down
with CBC's Duncan McCue.
Watch the full interview tonight on The National on
CBC Television.
McCue: I can't stand horror movies. They terrify
me. What is it about horror movies you enjoy so
Lam: I love the suspense. Horror isn't necessarily
the bludgeoning, the gore. The definition of horror is
Karen Lam directs from the set of her revenge horror film
Evangeline, set to premier at the Vancouver Women in Film
Festival March 6.
something that creates the dread of death. I really love that thing where you put your hands up around
your face and you don't think you can watch any more of it — then you do. I find it very pleasurable, but I
guess some people find it very unpleasurable!
DM: What were your major influences starting out?
KL: I loved Gothic literature. I started off reading things like Edgar Allen Poe and Daphne du Maurier. All
those mystery, thriller-type things, with a lot of darkness. And my dad was a huge kung-fu movie fan. He
loved revenge fantasies and creature features, so we spent a lot of bonding time watching these films. He
took me to Jaws. That was one of my first films. And I asked him why he would take me toJaws, at age
five, and he said, "Well, you really like fish." For my bedtime stories, he would tell me Robinson Crusoe
was eaten by cannibals. He and his boy Friday. I never could read Robinson Crusoe after that, but this
was something my dad thought was quite funny. I guess for me, horror felt like a safe place.
DM: Obviously, very few women directors in this genre.
What's that like for you?
KL: I grew up in a small town [Brandon, Man.], where I was one
of the few Chinese people as well. I guess I'm most comfortable
where there's not a lot of me. I love that. You want to be part of
something where you can hopefully make a difference, as
opposed to being part of a giant crowd.
DM: Your latest feature, Evangeline, is a revenge fantasy.
What message were you hoping to send about women's
roles in horror movies?
KL: With any supernatural revenge fantasy, it's not necessarily
wish fulfillment, because I think she goes through quite a lot.
Revenge turns you into a monster. If you go down that path,
anger will turn you into something that you never wanted to be.
But the message I'd send is: Does an eye-for-an-eye make the
whole world blind? Religion is a huge part ofEvangeline. How
Evangeline is about a university student
often can you turn the other cheek? That's what we're asked to
murdered by psychopathic frat boys, who
do again and again: be strong as victims. When you see victims returns from the grave to get revenge.
of violence, you're supposed to forgive your oppressor and your
killers, and move on. But we live in a city that had 65 women disappear from basically one city block.
DM: You've said the Pickton trial, and missing and murdered women, and the Highway of Tears,
make you angry. Why?
KL: It's this constant butchery of women. Again and again. And, you know, there's a serial killer on the
loose. That was the impetus forEvangeline: what if there was a killer who would hunt other killers? I
always enjoyed this idea: What if you had a female superhero who really could clean the streets up? I
hope when people see these films they feel some relief, on the entertainment basis, because there's still
the craft of it. But, ultimately, I hope they feel the same disgust and anger I feel.
Georgia Straight (Online and Print)
Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off with Evangeline
By Adrian Mack
Director Karen Lam drew on icons of gothic literature for Evangeline.
IF IT’S DIVERSITY you want, then opening your film festival with a supernatural rape-revenge movie
made by a female Chinese-Canadian director is a pretty great way to go. When the ninth annual
Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off with its gala opening on Thursday (March
6), Evangeline will fit the bill to a fine T.
It holds even more interest if you consider the myriad other ways that Karen Lam‘s feature reflects life
here in Vancouver, from themes that include a roaming serial killer—with its tacit reference to the
Highway of Tears—to the film‘s very existence as a female-made genre film. Between the Soska twins
(American Mary) and Lam, our city has generated a lot of attention as a hot spot in the renaissance of
feminist horror.
―Although,‖ says Lam, calling the Straight from her downtown home, ―some horror people have said I
haven‘t made a true out-and-out horror yet. I make thrillers. I like dark fantasy. I‘m definitely genre, but I‘m
what traditionally horror is, which is that sense of dread and suspense.‖
Indeed, it‘s Lam‘s literary influences—she cites Edgar Allan Poe, Daphne du Maurier, and Mary Shelley—
that are felt in the movie‘s strange, spectral feel. In Evangeline, our titular heroine (played by Kat de
Lieva) is a college student from a religious background who enters a kind of purgatory when she‘s stalked
and abused by a series of men. Like Ms. 45 gone eldritch, it‘s from this place between worlds that she
exacts her revenge. Lam points to the sway of supernatural B.C. itself.
―I don‘t think you can walk in Stanley Park and not profoundly know that there is more to it than just us,‖
she says. ―I can feel it. It‘s there. And that‘s what I find really interesting about Vancouver, as I‘ve always
seen us as on some threshold of the spiritual and the real.‖ Adds the filmmaker, whose background in ―a
very Christian community‖ was cross-pollinated with life in an Asian home: ―Growing up in a Chinese
household, my parents always had things like ancestor shrines. There was a sense that the dead always
lived with us.‖
It all makes for an impressively unique sensibility, down to the abstract imagery Lam conjures to depict
Evangeline‘s liminal state. That said, when violence comes, it‘s anything but phantasmagoric. Lam resists
what she calls the ―stylized male fantasy‖ we‘re used to seeing on-screen. ―It‘s not prettified,‖ she says.
―Once guys start kicking, there‘s just no grace there.‖
Aesthetic achievements aside, this is where Lam‘s work ties back to the implicitly political nature of the
Women in Film Festival itself. Like all her works—including five shorts and 2010‘s feature, Stained—
Evangeline is ultimately driven by a sense of outrage. Dismissing the ―task forces and judicial inquiries‖
that have so far yielded so little in confronting Vancouver‘s dire history of violence against women, Lam
says it‘s the news that ultimately moves her to start hammering out a script.
―I get really angry about things,‖ she says, with a disarming chuckle. ―If I‘m in a happy, sane mood—well,
why would anyone want to write, to be honest? It has to drive you and there has to be a certain fire there.
I don‘t just make entertainment. I have some things to say, otherwise I wouldn‘t put myself through this.‖
More info on the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival (March 6 to 9), including screenings,
workshops, and panel discussions, is at
The Link
WOMEN IN FILM: Vancouver film festival reflects a much-needed change in the industry
By Montana Cumming
―To those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at
the center are niche experiences: they are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn
money. The world is round, people.‖
Cate Blanchett‘s offbeat Oscar acceptance speech for Best Actress in the Leading Role resonated within
many audience members and film industry workers alike.
The strife for more women leading films, whether it‘s on- or off-screen, has never felt stronger. Blanchett‘s
choice to make a statement about the misrepresentation of women in film at the 86th Academy Awards
was an interesting one indeed, for the Academy has been criticized for a long time for its favouritism of
white men in the industry.
To put it in perspective, in nearly a century of film, just four women have been nominated for Best Director
at the Academy Awards.In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow became the first and only woman to win the award for
her film, The Hurt Locker.
Despite the misrepresentation of the number of women in the film industry based on statistics of award
winners, thousands of women with all sorts of backgrounds pioneer their own films in British Columbia
alone. They are ready to put up a fight when their opportunities are taken away due to a perceived ―lack
of interest‖.
Recently, the Vancouver International Women‘s Film Festival (VIWFF) wrapped up at the Vancity Theatre
for the 9th time. The festival is a celebration by Vancouver Women in Film and Television (VWFT); it ran
from March 6 to 9, to coincide with the celebrations of International Women‘s Day 33 films from all over
the world premiered at this year‘s event: all produced, written, directed by, or starring women.
Vancouver‘s Karen Lam is one of the filmmakers whose work was featured at VIWFF 2014. She wrote
and directed the featured thriller Evangeline. The film stars Kat de Lieva as Evangeline, a sheltered girl
who leaves her home for college, but soon finds herself in danger with a sociopathic fraternity brother.
Lam‘s horror-comedy short The Meeting premiered as well.
Lam has taken part in many different events that shed light on
women producing and starring in their films in the past, and her
presence at VIWFF shows her support for the cause. According
to Lam, the first step to making the film industry more inviting to
women is ―seeing more women behind the camera and involved
in the process. … If we don‘t see ourselves doing it, we may not
think it‘s possible.‖
Lam has been making films for about 16 years; she branched
out to production 12 years ago, and writing 5 years later.
―I‘m a jack of all trades and a lifelong cinephile, so the film industry is a perfect fit for me,‖ she said. ―I love
collaborating on projects, storytelling, and all the different artists that come together to make film and TV
Lam opened up about experiencing both positive and negative situations being a woman trying to lead
film production, specifically in her horror genre comfort zone.
―As a female writer, I tend to write from a female protagonist POV, and some financiers or distributors will
read the stories from a more male perspective,‖ the filmmaker explained. ―Any biases tend to more
systemic than individual, although there‘s the occasional example where I‘ll get called out on the films for
being ―anti-male‖ although it‘s unintentional on my part.‖
However, Lam keeps a positive attitude about the bumps in the road, and notes that most of the mentors
she has had in the past were very supportive. ―The exceptions really are the exceptions,‖ she explained.
She also pointed out that most women in the film industry face the same concerns as women working in
corporate environments.
―The time commitment is really high, and the ability to balance family and personal life with an allencompassing career is the biggest challenge,‖ Lam noted. ―If you‘re going to devote yourself to making
films and getting good at your job as a writer/director, it means having almost myopic focus.‖
Karen Lam is writing three new feature films, and will be directing her first sci-fi short film coming up soon.
Recently, she also adapted short stories by horror author Thomas Terrier for her horror anthology ―World
of Hurt.‖
For women who are curious about the world of film-making, but are intimidated by the possible
challenges, Lam has the following advice:
―Our industry really is changing so there‘s no better time to pick up a very affordable camera, write a
script and just start doing it. Come on in! The water‘s warm.‖
Georgia Straight
Afterparty takes the sociable approach to local filmmaking
By Adrian Mack
Charlie (Graham Coffeng) and Tracy (Ali Liebert) face the cold light of dawn in the improvised Afterparty.
HAS VANCOUVER EVER produced anything quite like Afterparty? Michelle Ouellet‘s feature is almost
entirely improvised—that‘s not so unusual—but there‘s a seductively modest and low-key groove to the
It‘s a ballsy start for a young director, setting a film in a single location and letting a bunch of
thirtysomethings yak at each other. The arc bends low, little is resolved by the end—the premise here
being that Charlie (Graham Coffengs) brings a bunch of old high school pals (and a few fresh faces) back
to a swanky West Van pad after his brother‘s wedding—but there are big truths among the little chills.
―Mike Leigh was a huge influence,‖ says Ouellet, calling the Straightfrom her West Side home and
explaining that she and her nine principle actors—and there isn‘t a weak one in the bunch—expanded on
their own incipient middle-age lives to find their characters.
With everybody roughly outlined, Ouellet had her team improvise the shit out of their new personae at a
rehearsal dinner. Out of this came a 40 scene outline—but not much more. When we see Christina
Sicoli‘s endearing space-case Moon recite some questionable ―beat poetry‖ in the movie, we‘re treated to
her own spontaneous (and very funny) act of creation.
―That was just one line in the outline,‖ says Ouellet. ―It was: ‗Moon has an idea.‘ That was totally from her
twisted mind. While we were shooting I remember thinking, ‗I never could have written this.‘‖
Meanwhile, there was a lot of necessary improv on the other side of the camera. ―It was crazy,‖ recalls the
director. ―Everybody was talking at the same time, our sound guy didn‘t know who to boom, our camera
guy didn‘t know who to film. The cast, the crew, and myself, we figured out the rules together.‖
Eventually they all found the right pocket over the course of a chronologically planned, six-weekend
shoot. In one of the best scenes in the film, wantonly obnoxious Bruce (Nicholas Carella) gets cockblocked by New York actor-writer Tracy (Ali Liebert) as he tries to wheel 22-year-old caterer Hailey
(Emma Lahana). There‘s a fabulously painful ring of authenticity to the situation, right down to the woolly,
hand held camera moves.
―The crew got really good by the end,‖ says Oulette, ―anticipating who was talking and understanding the
dynamics of the characters. That scene was like a dance, where everyone was working together. It‘s one
long take. It‘s not perfect, but the edge and the feel that it has? It adds another quality to the discomfort.‖
When Afterparty gets its hometown premiere at the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival on
Saturday (March 8), it‘ll also mark the local debut of Sociable Films, a ―boutique film production company‖
launched in 2011 by Ouellet and her Afterparty star, Ali Liebert. It‘s hard to imagine a project better suited
to their aims. Ouellet and nine of her friends turning their shared life experiences into drama? What could
be more Sociable than that?
―It was produced cooperatively, and the aim of Sociable Films is to build community,‖ explains Ouellet.
―And we want to say yes to ideas that excite us. Not just stories, but also processes. This was something
that was almost entirely process-based. We weren‘t trying to make something for any other reason than
to make it. For the story, and for the experience itself.‖
Indigenous women filmmakers celebrated with festival screenings
By David P. Ball, Windspeaker Contributor VANCOUVER
Volume: 31 Issue: 12 Year: 2014
Two Indigenous filmmakers feature prominently in this month‘s Vancouver International Women in Film
But despite their documentaries‘ strikingly different topics – one a profile of Gemini-winning actor Michelle
Thrush, the other about the history of a B.C. First Nation – both spoke to Windspeaker about the
importance of honouring their subjects‘ stories.
The festival‘s March 9 screenings include Shannon Kaplun‘s film Michelle Thrush about the Arctic Air
Cree star, and Lisa Jackson‘s How a People Live about Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw nation. The ethics of
documentary filmmaking also emerged as common themes in the work of both.
―It is a huge responsibility,‖ Kaplun told Windspeaker. ―It‘s a huge trust relationship, and I always try to
honour the people whose stories I help facilitate in a way that honours their true spirit.
―In my whole career, any time I could, I try to find inspiration about women. Indigenous women are the
most vulnerable in our society, but they‘re also some of the strongest. But you don‘t hear the strong
stories; you hear the sad and tragic stories.‖
Kaplun‘s profile of the Calgary-based Cree actor – who has appeared in films with Johnny Depp and
Benicio Del Toro, and currently stars in Aboriginal People‘s Television Network‘s Blackstone – is part of a
series of women‘s profiles soon to air on APTN, but premiering in Vancouver.
―I wanted to put these women up to show the world,‖ she said. ―I‘m proud to call them my friends.
―But I really felt Michelle [Thrush]‘s story was one of strongest. She gave all of herself to me in our
interviews. I have a huge admiration for her. She made herself vulnerable to me and her audience.‖
Thrush‘s story follows her path after a childhood surrounded by poverty and stereotypes. Kaplun‘s film
addresses the actor‘s struggles to believe in herself before discovering her talents. But even then, Kaplun
said, ―she didn‘t go down the traditional Hollywood route‖ but ―carved out her own path.‖
―Michelle is not just an amazing Aboriginal actor,‖ she added, ―she‘s an amazing actor.
―We all know about the despair, downfalls and struggles that people have. But we wanted to inspire our
The film is part of a series Kaplun has directed about some of the most high-profile Indigenous celebrities
– including musician Buffy Sainte Marie, model Ashley Callingbull and hockey player Jordan Nolan.
Another Indigenous-made film screening at the festival is How a People Live, which uses oral story-telling
and archival documents to explore the history of the Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw, a remote First Nation in
B.C. who were forced to move in 1964.
But today the community continues to honour and reclaim their history, and celebrate their coastal
culture. As the film‘s director, Jackson said that water emerged as the film‘s central metaphor and is
featured throughout, and helps frame the powerful narrative.
―These people have been through incredible adversity,‖ Jackson told Windspeaker, ―but there‘s such a
joyfulness about them.
―They‘re such great story-tellers, there‘s such a family love. That was one of the most amazing things.
They‘re still struggling with so many things as a community, but there‘s so much strength and love among
The film‘s screening will be attended by members of the First Nation, including its chief negotiator Colleen
Hemphill and Port Hardy councillor Jessie Hemphill. But despite being commissioned by the band to
document their history, Jackson insisted she had the freedom to tell the community‘s harrowing story in
her way.
―Technically, it was a commission,‖ she said. ―But, in a lot of ways, I had the most creative freedom I‘ve
ever had. They just said, ‗We‘re on board with what you‘re trying to do, we totally trust you.‘‖
The end result is a documentary that deftly weaves together contemporary footage of Gwa‘sala‘Nakwaxda‘xw life, story-telling Elders, archival footage and primary documents, including diaries of the
government‘s Indian Agent.
One of the challenges of historical films is ensuring that what she called ―colonial documents‖ aren‘t given
more weight that oral stories and traditions.
―One of the things that I am proud of in the film is the interweaving of historical narrative and the
traditional lifestyle,‖ she explained. ―There‘s sometimes a sense (in documentaries) of privileging historical
―The importance of oral history was on my mind. It‘s always been others saying what their culture was
like. It was clear these people were amazing story-tellers themselves... Very often historical archive
materials are seen as the colonial view. But I thought, ‗How can these images be used in a way that is
appropriate to help tell their own story?‘‖
Jackson‘s film also discusses the devastating 1862 smallpox epidemic, which historians believe killed
one-third of the B.C. Indigenous population.
Asked about her documentary filmmaking influences, she cited two celebrated National Film Board of
Canada directors: Donald Brittain, whose 1965 film Memorandum followed a Holocaust survivor‘s journey
back to a concentration camp; and Abanaki director Alanis Obomsawin, whose 1993 film Kanesatake:
270 Years of Resistance drew widespread acclaim for telling the story of the Oka Crisis.
―She tells people‘s stories in a particular way – with respect,‖ she said of Obomsawin. ―She has such an
abiding respect for her subjects and the people she deals with.‖
Jackson also credited the ImagineNative festival with nurturing many Indigenous women directors.
―There‘s always the statistics from the industry about how there are so few female filmmakers,‖ she said.
―But in the Indigenous filmmaking community it‘s more than 50 per cent, and in general documentaries
have a lot more women – I don‘t know why.
―The film industry, by necessity, is quite military in style. You have to pull off a lot of big things, it has to be
structured ... I‘ve been inspired by filmmakers who are able to bring different styles to their filmmaking.‖
Sin Fronteras Newspaper
El regreso de Patricia Ortega
By Liliana Castañeda López
“El regreso” de Patricia Ortega se presenta el 6 de marzo en Vancity.
Los ojos de la inocencia siempre le darán a la cámara esa perspectiva incorruptible que logra la
comprensión de los hechos más complicados y eso es lo que nos dice los ojos de Shuliwala. Por eso, a
pesar de la tristeza por la tragedia que se cierne sobre su pueblo y su vida, no se puede evitar sentir
ternura y un poco de orgullo por la valentía de esta niña.
Hermosos paisajes sirven de marco para retratar una vida cotidiana marcada por las costumbres simples
y significativas de la cultura Wayúu, su relación con la naturaleza, la tierra, los muertos y la comunidad.
La vida dura de mujeres y hombres se ve terriblemente afectada por una realidad donde
infortunadamente la violencia y el poder lleva las de ganar.
―El regreso‖ formula preguntas universales a partir de la masacre que sucedió en Bahía Portete en la
Guajira colombiana por parte de los paramilitares con la aquiescencia del gobierno y las autoridades. La
amistad y los lazos de hermandad se cuestionan con la llegada de los paramilitares a la región o ―los
hombres encapuchados‖ como los llaman los indígenas. Este despertar a la pugna por el territorio
coincide con la llegada del periodo de Shuliwala y con ello, el fin de la inocencia. A pesar de los intentos
que la niña hace por no abandonar sus juguetes, su cabello será cortado y las responsabilidades de
mujer serán enseñadas. A ese mundo es al que se enfrenta Shuliwala, a vivir entre la visión nostálgica
del pasado y la dura realidad de las calles urbanas.
Esta película y otras dos obras ―Extraños‖ y ―Des(pecho)trucción‖ se presentarán en el Festival de Cine
Femenino junto a otras 31 en el teatro Vancity entre el 6 y 9 de marzo. De hecho, esta muestra de cine
venezolano se complementará con una discusión sobre el estado de la producción cinematográfica en
este país latinoamericano.
Sorprendentemente el séptimo arte ha florecido en medio de la difícil situación política y económica que
se vive actualmente en Venezuela. De 3 películas a comienzos de los 2000, se ha pasado a 54 en este
año y la acogida cada vez más en crecimiento. Las directoras María Ruiz y Patricia Ortega al igual que
otros funcionarios y diplomáticos estarán presentes en la charla programada para el 8 de marzo a las
3:30 de la tarde.
Para mayor información sobre el festival, visite:
Behind the bright façade – an African ménage à trois in Marie Kâ’s L’Autre Femme
By Katja De Bock
What strikes one right away in this erotic tale written, directed and
produced by Vancouver filmmaker Marie Kâ, are a wide pallet of bright
colours and ubiquitous sunshine.
Clothing, interiors and street life really are that colourful in Dakar, the
location for the story, said Kâ, who grew up in Senegal and studied film in
France and the US. So much so that the set design and wardrobe teams
did such a good job of setting up the shop window with some of the
costumes that local women were coming onto the set to inquire about the
The story of Madeleine, who finds unconventional ways to get to terms
with her husband‘s new, young, second wife, did not strike Kâ as an
unusual constellation.
Polygamous households are still relatively common in Senegal, especially in traditional families. Many
married women have this thought in the back of their heads, that their husbands might decide to hook up
with someone new, says Kâ.
That‘s not much different from other countries, where men may take on mistresses, she says, except for
the fact that in Senegal, men are expected to treat their wives equally. As Dakar – to the locals – is as
expensive to live in as Vancouver is to us, imagine having to pay for two spouses with their demands for
housing, food and child care!
But logistics aside, Kâ says she was primarily intrigued by
the question why women are still accepting the tradition and
how they deal with that other person in their lives.
Though the twist in L‟Autre Femme may be unconventional,
Kâ didn‘t have problems to cast her leading performers. Awa
Sène Sarr, who stars as Madeleine, is so well known in
Senegal, the street scenes had to be interrupted several
times, as passers-by asked for autographs. She
voiced Karaba the witch the in the world-renowned
animation film Kirikou and the Sorceress.
Khady Ndiaye, who plays the second wife Amayelle, is nicknamed ―Bijou‖ (Jewel) in Senegal and has her
own TV show.
―It was my goal to make the actors feel close to the characters,‖ says Kâ, who scheduled two rehearsal
days for the actors to feel fully safe about their performances.
L‟Autre Femme was exec produced by Steven Markovitz as one of
six shorts for the compilation film African Metropolis, a project
supported by the German Goethe-Institut, the Dutch Hubert Bals
Fund and the Nigerian Guaranty Trust Bank. L‟Autre Femme got
additional support by the Organisation Internationale de la
Kâ was mentored by French screenwriter Jacques Akchoti.
Kâ is the only female director of the compilation and has recently
moved to Vancouver.
Filmmaker Marie Kâ
Women in Film + Television is proud that L‟Autre Femme will open the Shorts that Shines showcase on
Friday, March 7th at 4 p.m.
A Q&A, moderated by Margaret Gallagher of CBC Radio, follows the show.
Remembering the Homelands – Lisa Jackson’s How A People Live
By Katja De Bock
Pristine waters in majestic fjords, lined by evergreen forests and a backdrop of snowcapped mountains. A
bald eagle flies over treetops and a harbour seal peeks up from the waves.
To most B.C. citizens, these are not mere postcard pictures, but real memories that many of us, at least
the lucky ones living near the coast, have experienced, travelling on one of the ferries.
―Your identity derives from the place where you have roots, where your origin stories are. Everything
comes from the land,‖ says Jessie Hemphill, a young aboriginal woman who joined filmmaker Lisa
Jackson and her crew on a boat trip to the homelands of her nation, the Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw.The
scene is part of the feature documentary How a People Live, which is shown at the Vancouver
International Women in Film Festival on Sunday, March 9th and followed by a Q&A, moderated by
filmmaker, writer and community planner Kamala Todd .
In the film, award-winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson and producers Catrina Longmuir and Sharon Bliss
trace the history of the Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw Nations‗ forced relocation from their traditional territories
on the coast of British Columbia in 1964.
Candid and moving interviews, striking archival films
and photos dating back over 100 years, as well as a
visit to their stunning homelands bring to life the
story of a people known for their theatrical dances,
their strong connection to the land, and the strength
that has enabled them to overcome
incredible hardships.
Following the rise of the Idle No More movement, this masterfully lensed and edited documentary
emphasizes the importance of remembrance and reconciliation when meditating on Canadian history at
So how did it come about?
In January 2011, producer Sharon Bliss was approached by Colleen Hemphill, Chief Treaty negotiator of
the Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw Nations and Linda Dorricott, a researcher who has worked closely with the
Gwa‘sala-‘Nakwaxda‘xw for years.
―Initially, a team of four filmmakers went up and conducted a week of digital filmmaking workshops where
youth and members of the community learned how to create short films celebrating their culture and
stories, some in the Kwakwala language,‖ says producer Catrina Longmuir. ―It was modeled on similar
workshops Lisa Jackson and I have done for a project called Our World. Community members made
fantastic little first films.‖
The crew met many of the community members and researched for the feature film. The week ended in a
celebration screening where the filmmakers informed the community about the documentary which would
be shot in the fall. They also reached out to people willing to take part in the documentary.
―Lisa put a substantial amount of time into research and preproduction that spring and summer, and the
filming happened in two sessions,‖ says Longmuir. ―First, the ‗homelands‘ shoot took place in the early fall
of 2011 and the formal interviews were filmed later that fall.‖
Jackson says she felt honoured to be asked by the Gwa‘sala-‗Nakwaxda‘xw to make How a People Live.
―It was apparent from the beginning that everyone involved felt it was (finally) their story that was going to
be told, and as a result they were totally open and honest. It‘s clear that oral storytelling is a living
tradition – they were some of the best storytellers I‘ve ever encountered,‖ says Jackson.
―There was a mutual respect in the making of this
film that was very special. I was given freedom as
a filmmaker, and the community opened up to
me, trusting that I would make a film that
captured their voice authentically.‖
Originally, the film was supposed to be a halfhour short documentary, but it quickly became
apparent to the filmmakers and the Nations that
that wouldn‘t be enough time to do their history
―One of the biggest challenges was fitting everything in in a way that didn‘t feel rushed,‖ says Jackson. ―It
also took some time to find the film‘s structure, shifting between traditional life and the narrative of the
destructive events that had happened over the last 100 plus years.‖
Colleen Hemphill explains why it was important for her people to tell the world about their impressive
―Our Nations had ways, places and people that
survived for thousands of years; people who
had developed unique technologies, structures
and societies whose arts and ceremonies
attracted ethnographers, anthropologists and
filmmakers and people the world over,‖
Hemphill says.
―In the film How a People Live we depict the
land, we talk about what happened over a
period of 150 years, and we demonstrate a
strength of will and soul that is moving us toward a healthy and vibrant society once again. We want our
children to know our past as told by us and in this way, realize the strength and foundation that will see
them through many more years into the future.‖
Jackson is proud with the results. ―There were a lot of people that put their heart and commitment behind
this project to bring it to fruition,‖ she says. ―It truly was a labour of love.‖
Historical background
In 1964, the Gwa‘sala –‗Nakwaxdaxw, who used to live as two separate tribes, with similar practices, but
different dialects and cultures, were forcibly removed from their traditional territories of the Smith and
Seymour Inlets and surrounding islands. The new destination was a small plot of land on another nation‘s
territory (the Kwakiutl) called Tsulquate, just north of Port Hardy.
Their original homes were burned, and there was no possibility for the Gwa‘sala –‗Nakwaxdaxw Nationas
to return, says Hemphill in a backgrounder about the film.
Through a lack of planning, the Gwa‘sala and the
‗Nakwaxdaxw arrived at Tsulquate only to find
houses in deplorable conditions, as the elders in
the film remember.
In their homelands, the people relied on their boats
to travel, hunt, fish and gather food; at the new
location, promised docks were not available.
The 1964 relocation – combined with previous impacts from trade, settlement, the banning of the
Potlatch, residential schools and government legislation – took its toll on the Gwa‘sala –‗Nakwaxdaxw
In the early 1960s, an Indian Agent (as they were called in those days) named Alan Fry wrote a book
entitled How a People Die. His view in this fictional account, and as he witnessed the new Tsulquatian
community in the late 60‘s, was that the Gwa‘sala –‗Nakwaxdaxw people were not going to survive very
long into the future.
The Gwa’sala –‘Nakwaxdaxw today
Today, the Gwa‘sala –‗Nakwaxdaxw are a small, semi-rural community of about 500 on-reserve
community members, with about 350 band members living off-reserve near Port Hardy.
How a People Live is shown on Sunday, March 9th at 1 p.m. together with a short documentary
about Cree actor Michelle Thrush and followed by a moderated Q&A and panel discussion.
Patricia Ortega’s El Regreso – a cinematic debut gem from Venezuela
By Katja De Bock
The festival feature El Regreso / the Return is an opportunity to experience a heart-wrenching, beautifully
lensed film made in Venezuela.
Apart from the obvious cinematic qualities of the film, including the excellent direction of lay child actors
by debut filmmaker Patricia Ortega, the VIWIFF selection committee was particularly struck by the true
events behind the story, a decade-old brutal massacre of an indigenous coastal community in Colombia,
near the Venezuelan border.
In the film, a 10-year-old girl is forced to flee her seaside home for an unknown city in Venezuela, after
her local indigenous community was ambushed and murdered by thugs.
So what happened?
On April 18, 2004, paramilitary groups of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia Wayuu CounterInsurgency Bloc brutally killed at least 12 people in the Wayuu community of Bahía Portete, in the
Colombian territory of Guajira, a region split between Colombia and Venezuela. Hundreds of people were
displaced against their will and many, including orphaned children, took refuge in neighbouring
In an interview with Cultural Survival, witness
Débora Barros Fince recounts what happened to
the fishing community, which consisted mainly of
two families who had lived there for over 500 years.
According to Barros Fince, paramilitaries had been
vandalizing and bullying the community for months,
stealing animals and goods from them. The
paramilitaries were interested in using the beaches
for drug trafficking and wanted to do away with the local population, she said. When Two Wayuu men
filed a complaint with the local police, they were murdered by the paramilitaries just hours later. Similar
executions followed in the next few months, she said.
Barros Fince states she believes the Colombian army was informed, if not involved in the deadly attack
against the civilians, including women, children and elderly, on the day of the massacre.
Because the survivors were distrustful towards the Colombian government and army, they fled to the
town of Maracaibo in Venezuela, where Barros Fince rose to a community leader.
In 2011, a PBS documentary returned to Bahia Portete with Barros Fince and other survivors.
Filmmaker Ortega inspired by survivors
Venezuelan filmmaker Patricia Ortega was indignant by the lack of public interest and the recounts of the
survivors, she told Women In Film & Television Vancouver in an interview translated from Spanish:
―Impunity for this massacre, pain and xenophobia experienced by survivors were the main elements that
moved me to tell this story as a necessity. I wanted to scream to the world through this movie, we cannot
remain indifferent to the death or horror, and we cannot continue to discriminate against anyone who
comes from a different culture,‖ says Ortega.
―Latin Americans complain of discrimination by Europe and the United States, but we also marginalize
and discriminate against our indigenous peoples.‖
She decided to tell her film from the point of view of a
young girl, to make the story more universal, but also to
avoid having to depict an exact description of the facts,
which is difficult in a covered-up massacre.
―Although this massacre took place on the border with
our country and the survivors live among us, in
Venezuela, very little is known about this massacre, the
Zulia newspapers reported hard fact, but national newspapers and television stations did not pay much
attention,‖ Ortega says.
―When I premiered my film El Regreso, people wondered, astonished if the facts were true. They could
not believe that something like this had happened so close to us. It is very sad that from the media point
of view the marriage of a movie star is more important than a terrible and unfair fact such as the Portete
Bay massacre.‖
Produced with Global Film Initiative
El Regreso was produced with the funding by Venezuela‘s National Autonomous Cinematography Center
(CNAC) and the Global Film Initiative, a San Francisco-based international arts organization that
promotes cross-cultural understanding through the medium of cinema. Ortega also received help from the
cultural foundation PDVSA LA ESTANCIA in her hometown, Maracaibo.
The tight budget was strained by having to reconstruct the Wayuu
village on a beach in the state of Zulia, Venezuela. It took Ortega
six months of intense casting to find the right children and adult lay
actors among the Wayuunaiki -speaking inhabitants of the country.
―Despite the economic effort it cost us, the result was to find
children, wonderful girls and adults who could interpret our history
with sincerity,‖ says Ortega. ―Daniela Gonzalez, the girl who plays
the character of Shuliwala, lives in a poor neighbourhood of Zulia
state . . . She did not have any knowledge or previous experience
in acting, but her talent impressed us and we feel that without her,
our film it would not have been possible. Most of the indigenous
actors who worked on the film had no experience, but they had the
need to report this slaughter.‖
Severe weather conditions on the beach demanded a lot of
overtime, and the need to depict realistic locations in the city meant
situations were often uncontrollable, forcing the team to use a mix of fictional and documentary takes.
“The Return to us as a team became a great managerial, cultural and human challenge,‖ says Ortega,
who adds she and producer Sergio Gómez Antillano are proud and happy to have finished the production
The film was awarded Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Actress
(Daniela González) at Festival entre Largos y Cortos de Oriente ―ELCO 2013‖ in Venezuela and
considered ―one of the jewels of the IX edition of the Venezuelan Film Festival in Mérida.‖
Ortega‘s next film will yet again deal with a taboo issue: intersexuality.

Documentos relacionados