Aug 15, 2014

Carry On Sergeant! Screening with Live Music by the HILOTRONS

In honour of the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the Lost Dominion Screening Collective is giving local film fans a rare chance to see the biggest-budget Canadian film of the 1920's on the big screen.

Carry On Sergeant! (1928) (not to be confused with the later British comedy series of the same name) was shot at Trenton Studios in Ontario and in the surrounding countryside by British Director Bruce Bairnsfather, with legendary Canadian filmmaker Gordon Sparling working as his assistant director. With a budget of $500 000, it was the biggest-budget film produced in Canada up to that time. Much of that budget went to recreating WWI-era France, with sprawling sets and battlefield scenes featuring hundreds of extras and the use of real high-explosives.

Produced as a silent film just as theatres were transitioning to sound, it had only a brief two-month run at the box office before it was removed from circulation in January 1929. It fell into obscurity for many years before Gordon Sparling donated a print to Library and Archives Canada, resulting in a complete restoration of the film in 1990. It is now considered one of the most important films in Canadian film history.

This screening continues Ottawa musician Mike Dubue's recent tradition of composing new scores to classic films such as Metropolis (1927), The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920),  Adventure of Prince Archmed (1926) and the earliest surviving Canadian feature film, Back to God’s Country (1919)
This time Mike is back with his band the HILOTRONS and the score is based on Ennio Morricone classics.

HILOTRONS are a band hailing from Ottawa. They are known for their funky pop and experimental sensibilities and have been releasing critically acclaimed albums since 2002. They are also known for composing and performing live and new original scores for films from the silent era. This year, to commemorate the 100yr anniversary of WWI, HILOTRONS are presenting the 1928 Canadian classic Carry On Sergeant with an score comprised entirely of music by film composer Ennio Morricone, which include selections from A Fist Full Of Dollars, Danger: Diabolik and The Thing. This year, Ennio Morricone turns 86 yrs old

Oct 28 - La Vitrola (Montreal, QC)
Oct 29 - The Screening Room (Kingston, ON)
Oct 30 - The Kiwanis Kineto Theatre (Forest, ON)
Nov 8 - Bloor Hot Docs Cinema (Toronto, ON)
Nov 9 - The Zoetic Theatre (Hamilton, ON)
Nov 10 - The Regent Theatre (Picton, ON)
Nov 11 - The ByTowne Cinema (Ottawa, ON)

Aug 7, 2014

The Bitter Ash, September 24th, Bytowne Cinema

The Bitter Ash

Larry Kent, 80 min, 1963, Canada, 35mm, Bytowne Cinema, Sept. 24thStarring Philip Brown, Alan Scarfe, and Lynn Stewart.

26 year-old UBC student Larry Kent directed The Bitter Ash in the early 1960's in Vancouver at a time when English Canadian feature films were rarely produced anywhere in the country, let alone on the West Coast. The plot concerns a young man, Des (Alan Scarfe), who abandons his girlfriend on a whim to explore the seedy counterculture at the fringes of Vancouver's otherwise “respectable” society. It's an ambitious tale of class conflict, social upheaval and generational change, punctuated with sex, drugs and jazz music.

Kent, who had moved to Canada from South Africa when he was 20, produced the film with almost no money, so he was forced to stretch every dollar to get it made. His actors were students from UBC's drama department, the opening credits are hand-drawn illustrations, and the film was shot on black-and-white 16mm film without a budget for live sound recording, so all the sound had to be added in during post-production. Though it looks and sounds somewhat “rough” by today's standards, it still manages to pack a powerful dramatic punch, owing mostly to its audacious editing, and its bold, clear-eyed, and critical look at the sexual and cultural revolution about to sweep the nation.
Provincial censors in B.C. didn't like the racy content and banned it from appearing in theatres in the province. Deciding to bypass Canada's theatrical distribution system entirely, Kent took the film on a roadshow screening tour of schools across the country. It was enthusiastically received by university audiences, but, dogged by censorship, Kent only managed get it shown in four schools after numerous others decided it was too subversive to screen.
Kent went on to direct many other independent Canadian films, notably When Tomorrow Dies (1965) and Mothers and Daughters (1992). For years, the master print of The Bitter Ash was thought lost, but it re-emerged serendipitously in the possession of Kent's old landlord and a restoration process was initiated. A restored version of The Bitter Ash will be screened for the first time in Ottawa on a newly-transferred 35mm film print courtesy of Library and Archives Canada.
Director Larry Kent will be at the screening and will be available for a Q&A with the audience after the film.

For more on the film go here