Cool winds tapering off into warm and sultry breezes indicate that summer is fast approaching, and with it comes the season of sunshine and summer festivals. There are a number of events, whether annual traditions or traditions-in-the-making, to watch out for this year. Here’s just a snapshot:
Neanderthal Arts Festival
The Neanderthal Arts Festival is a developmental theatre festival that is an offshoot of the Walking Fish Festival. This is its second year in operation, and its main goal is storytelling. Event co-producer Allyson McGrane explains the connection between the festival and Neanderthals as similar to “when people sat around fires and told stories…primitive way theatre is about primitive communication. Sometimes theatre can be its most powerful when it’s very, very stripped down.”
There will be four local shows and one national show. There will also be the Walking Fish Festival, which is a mini-festival within the bigger festival, and will have three commissioned short plays. The titles included in the local shows are Chairs, Homecoming King, The Gas Heart and Other Side Through You.
The national show is called My Pregnant Brother, which is based on a true story with some of the events happening right here in Vancouver. It tells the story of playwright Johanna Nutter and her pregnant younger sister who later becomes her brother. If it sounds like an interesting and compelling story, then you should definitely check it out.
Aside from the stage productions, there will be other attractions, such as a barbeque, photo booth, artist talks, a pet rock station and more. The merriments will commence July 20-31.
Powell Street Festival
This is the longest-running community arts festival in the Lower Mainland, with its ongoing tradition every summer. The celebrations began in 1977, which marked the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrant to Canada. Its location in historic Powell Street was due to the fact that prior to their internment, the area used to be a commercial district for Japanese-Canadians.
The festival aims to present Japanese-Canadian arts and culture and the Asian-Canadian culture in general. General Manager and Programming Director Julia Aoki says that they want to explore the Japanese-Canadian identity in more complex ways.
“We want to take a very liberal approach to what that means,” Aoki explains. “There’s a lot of work easily identifiable as Japanese or Japanese-Canadian, but other works are a bit more challenging and critical of those categories.”
Indeed, there will be some eclectic performances, such as the collaboration of Japanese youth drumming group Chibi Taiko and Aboriginal Youth Drumming Group Spakwus Slulum. Other notable performers include: The Sei Trio – three musicians who combine traditional Japanese musical styling with contemporary tunes, the 605 Collective – a dance group featuring urban and contemporary dance, and the Tashme Project – a theatrical production of stories from the Japanese experience at the Tashme internment camp.
The celebrations will be from July 30–31.
Queer Film Festival
The Queer Film Festival started out as an underground festival that has grown into an interdisciplinary arts festival, but is still rooted in film and media. Director of Programming Amber Dawn says that it is a festival that connects artists, art and audiences.
“It is a great time for an art appreciator,” Dawn says. “It’s a great time to get a deeper understanding of independent cinema.”
Aside from the festival, they also have a program called Out in Schools, which is a youth education program where facilitators bring short films to classrooms and generate conversation about bullying, gender stereotypes and homophobia. This year, they will also be marching in the Pride Parade, along with some youth, teachers and school board professionals.
There will be films from over fifteen different countries like India, Serbia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, spanning different genres from documentaries and romantic comedies to family dramas. For example, Gun Hill Road is about an ex-convict who gets out of jail, only to find out his son is undergoing a sexual transformation.
There will also be a special program running alongside the festival called, Celebrate Queer Vancouver. There will be a series of public art around Vancouver featuring queer families. There will also be a satellite exhibit at the Museum of Vancouver.
The festival will be happening August 11–21.
Other Noteworthy Events
The annual Scandinavian Midsummer is from June 17–19 at the Scandinavian Centre. June 21 will see a live celebration of music from all genres at Gastown, called Fête de la Musique Vancouver. Greek Day will be happening June 26. Expect to see some book readings, dance workshops, art exhibits and food. And the first ever Indian Summer Festival will be from July 7–17. There will be music, film, theatre, yoga, literature and much more. Check our cultural calendar for more events.
Enjoy the sun. Catch him when you can.