Kudos for showing diversity in the Vancouver film industry

Behind the scenes of Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future. | Photo courtesy of Soul on Ice

February is the most significant month for the film industry and this year I was encouraged by the movies that transformed from hidden figures under moonlight into award winners in the spotlight.

There has been a rise in on-screen confrontation to the cultural divides that still dominate our society. The films showcased at the 2017 Oscars were worthy of high praise and the frontrunners remind us of the true talent that is integral to addressing such issues. This talent was also reflected in Vancouver at the screening of the Crazy8s and in the program at the Vancouver International Film Centre.

In this Digital Age of computers and movie-making apps, it’s wonderfully easy to shoot a film and cut video together. But this also means it’s much easier for us to forget the responsibility that the entertainment industry has to educate its audience on matters of importance.

I want to give the films of February 2017 the recognition they deserve and challenge Vancouver’s film critics, professional and amateur, to continue to put pressure on the industry. This high standard of filmmaking needs to be celebrated throughout the remaining months of the year. The films mentioned here are hard-hitting, well-researched, truthful narratives that are not always the easiest choice to for the viewer. Let’s keep this filmmaking canon going – and I don’t just mean the camera.

This year, at the Academy Awards, was the first year that a black actor was nominated in every acting category, which defied last year’s shocking zero nominations for an actor of colour. We saw Moonlight win Best Picture, which deserves celebration as an African American film, beating Fences, which also received a nomination. This shift from the previous two years, which were challenged for their lack of diversity, should encourage more popular companies to follow suit. I’m personally very excited for Marvel’s Black Panther, due for release in 2018.

More locally, this was reflected at the Vancouver Crazy8 Filmmaking competition in which crews are challenged to create a film in just 8 days with a budget of $1000. These impressive short films were screened at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts on February 25. All finalists exhibited an inspiring message of multiculturalism or made a strong attack on some of the troubling issues of our modern day. The six films reveal a range of truths, from the cultural struggle of a young Vietnamese girl in Canada, to the pressures and confines of modern day, on an adult Pinocchio. They are all worth watching February was also Black History Month and I saw a very talented Director, Damon Kwame Mason, present his documentary, Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future, at the VIFC. His self written, produced and directed documentary – for which he sold his condo to make – is a very respectable representation of the challenge faced by black ice hockey players in Canada. It is an education in perseverance through adversity. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed and learnt from Kwame’s creation, especially as I’m neither a fan of hockey or historical documentaries. It reminded me of why we make films in the first place.

Rebecca Field

Rebecca Field is a British filmmaker with a background in scriptwriting and visual effects who is currently exploring the B.C. film industry.