Have you got your popcorn ready? The full running list for the North Shore News’ first ever film festival has been selected, and you can rest assured there is something on the screen for all manner of cinephiles.
More than 20 films that showcase the vibrant and diverse filmmaking talent of the North Shore and Sea to Sky community have been chosen for the inaugural Coast Mountain Film Festival, with films set to be screened all across the North Shore, from the Kay Meek Arts Centre in West Vancouver to North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre.
Split into five categories, the locally made movies will span North Shore Profiles, Dark Comedies, Environmental, Dramatic Shorts and a special Canadian premiere of feature film Krow’s TRANSformation.
Directed by Gina Hole Lazarowich and released in March last year, Krow’s TRANSformation follows the transition of male model Krow Kian, from his final shoot as a female model to walking the runway for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week as a trans man.
Lazarowich, who grew up in West Vancouver before raising her own family in North Vancouver, said she was “honoured and excited” to be part of a festival that highlights local talent and local stories. The film also features longtime North Vancouver resident Kas Baker, who is highlighted as both a friend and mentor figure to Kian.
“It is wonderful to celebrate and have a platform for our local talent here,” she said. “I found that when applying to Canadian film festivals they mostly included films from everywhere else, and not locals in their backyard. So to actually have a festival that celebrates our filmmakers here is just fantastic,” she said.
Director Mary-Jo Dionne pointed out her film Never Broken, a work based on Dionne’s TEDx Talk that aims to debunk the myth that single-parent-led families are "broken," was only made possible thanks to an “overwhelming number of enormously generous people” from Deep Cove.
“Film lovers deserve exposure to local film talent, because it is robust here on the North Shore,” said Dionne, who co-directed the film with fellow North Shore director Jeff Macpherson.
“I don’t feel there exists the understanding of what projects our own neighbours are embarking on, in our own backyards, and how meaningful and impactful these projects are. We live in an area so rich in creative talent, we need more of these types of opportunities.”
With the North Shore’s long-standing relationship with film – being home to both the Capilano University film school and several award-winning studios and filmmakers – it came as no surprise that the festival received an overwhelming response of more than 40 submissions, said North Shore News publisher and festival curator Matt Blair.
Blair said the film festival was initiated to help the industry which, between the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent film strikes, has tackled difficult times in recent years.
“Many local filmmakers haven’t had the opportunity to showcase their work on the big screen. I felt the North Shore News had an opportunity and obligation to help if we could,” he said.
The opportunity to influence and deliver important messages to a local audience is one grasped with both hands by many of the participating filmmakers, especially those who are hoping to incite change with their directorial offerings.
Farhan Umedaly, whose film HA NII TOKXW: Our Food Table dives into the conservation efforts of British Columbia’s Gitanyow Nation, said he hopes his film will inspire the North Shore community to have meaningful discussions around indigenous rights and environmental protections.
Umedaly said the festival is beneficial for North Shore directors because they can “support one another on projects that can make a positive impact in the world.”
“Filmmaking brings communities together, and I am so glad this is happening in my hometown,” he said.
The Coast Mountain Film Festival runs March 29-April 18 at various theatres across the North Shore. Visit the film festival’s site for the full line-up and to reserve tickets.
Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.