Nov 17, 2015

Isabel by Paul Almond Bytowne Cinema Jan. 20th


Directed by Paul Almond
Bytowne Cinema, Jan. 20th
1968, Rated PG, 110mins, 35mm print!

dir: Paul Almond, 108mins, 1968, 35mm print (PG)

Starring Geneviève Bujold, Therese Cadorette, Gerard Parkes, Marc Strange, and Al Waxman.

Isabel is an intense and spooky psychological thriller written,
produced, and directed by Paul Almond. It stars the luminously
beautiful Geneviève Bujold as a young woman who returns to her
childhood home in the Gaspé region of Quebec to attend a funeral.
There, she starts experiencing a series of supernatural visions
forcing her to confront the dark secrets of her family's past. Her
co-stars include Therese Cadorette (La Famille Plouffe) as her sister Estelle, Gerard Parkes (The Boondock Saints) as her eccentric uncle Matthew, Marc Strange (The Forest Rangers) as a mysterious stranger,  and a young Al Waxman (The King of Kensington) as a creepy childhood

Isabel was the first Canadian feature film funded and distributed by
Paramount Pictures. Upon its release it received mostly stellar
notices and was favorably compared to the works of Ingmar Bergman and
Alfred Hitchcock, both for its stunning, stark photography, and its
dark psychological themes of sexual repression and violence. New York
Magazine film critic Judith Crist called it a "A beautiful and
exciting film...brilliantly cinematic". It won five prizes at the
Canadian Film Awards, including four of the top ones: Best Actress
(Bujold), Best Actor (Gerard Parkes), Best Editing and Best
Photography. The Directors Guild of America also nominated Almond for
their Best Director Award.

At the time of Isabel's release director Almond was best known as a
veteran TV producer and director who had worked in extensively in
Canada, England, and the United States. Over his long career he
directed six feature films and over 130 television TV shows and
teleplays, including a version of MacBeth starring Sean Connery. In
England he was the creator and director of the first film in the "7Up"
documentary series. The production of Isabel in the late 1960's was
his attempt to build a sophisticated art cinema in Canada comparable
to what was going on in Europe. Isabel was the first of a loose
trilogy of films including The Act of the Heart (1970) and Journey
(1972). Almond was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Directors
Guild of Canada in 2007.

During the 1970's Isabel lived on in screenings on CBC, but it slowly
fell into obscurity. Despite its acclaim, it remains unavailable on
streaming services or DVD. This screening will be projected from an
archival 35mm film print from the collection of Library and Archives
Canada, screened with permission from Paramount Pictures and presented

by the Lost Dominion Screening Collective.

Oct 1, 2015

Kandahar Journals, Nov. 11th Bytowne Cinema

Kandahar Journals (2015, Canada 76 minutes)

Bytowne Cinema, Nov.11th, 9:10pm, 2015
Directed by Louie Palu and Devin Gallagher
Written by Murray Brewster
Murray Brewster and Louie Palu will be in attendance
Produced by Louie Palu in association with the documentary Channel
Q&A with Louie Palu and Murray Brewster after the show.

Tickets can be bought at The Bytowne Cinema box office starting at approx 4pm on Nov. 11th.
Photo © Louie Palu

Kandahar Journals is the story of a photojournalist who reflects on
the events behind his psychological transformation after covering
frontline combat in Kandahar, Afghanistan from 2006 to 2010.

April 2006. Photojournalist Louie Palu, finds himself in the midst of
body parts and the smell of burned flesh. On his first visit to
Kandahar he is covering a suicide bombing. Arriving in the country as
the wars violence spirals out of control, Louie is unaware that he
will spend the next five years covering the conflict. He begins
writing a series of journals reflecting on his personal experience and
what the war looked like and felt to him.

This film explores a photojournalist’s firsthand account of his
psychological state while covering a war. The film follows Louie’s
journey covering the war in Kandahar from 2006 to 2010 and its
aftermath. The narrative spine of the story is built around Louie’s
personal journals written in Kandahar. The visual narrative weaves
back and forth from the chaos and experiential side of the war using
combat footage shot and directed by Louie to the banality of everyday
life back home in North America directed by Devin Gallagher. These two
narratives have been combined into a single film to give a personal
and up-close view into the experience of a combat photographer. The
film pivots between these two contrasting experiences which Louie
struggles to bridge. Over the years Louie meets soldiers, civilians
and is witness to violence and trauma, all of which is weaved into the

Directed by both Louie and his co-director Devin Gallagher the film
explores Louie’s lifelong interest in understanding war connected to
his family's experience and his formative years as a photographer.
Over time Louie is transformed by the war as the violence increases.
The longer he covers the war, the more he realizes the disconnection
that exists with the public back home, the war and himself. By the end
of the film he must come to terms with the impossibility of
photography to convey the reality of war because it is a personal

This film includes footage of combat, physical injury, and death. Some
visitors may find this material disturbing and unsuitable for children

Writer Murray Brewster will introduce the film.

Q&A with Louie Palu and Murray Brewster after the show.

POV Magazine article with Louie Palu

More on the film here

Apr 22, 2015

On the Trail of the Far Fur Country, Bytowne Cinema, May 24th

On The Trail Of The Far Fur Country, Bytowne Cinema May 24th 6:25pm

This is a documentary about a documentary.

In July 1919, a film crew set out on an epic journey across Canada’s North to capture the life of the fur trade for a silent feature-length documentary commissioned by the Hudson’s Bay Company.
For six months, their expedition travelled by icebreaker, canoe, and dog sled, capturing every aspect of the trade as well as extensive footage of daily life in the North. In all, they shot roughly 75,000 feet of film.

The Romance Of The Far Fur Country premiered on May 23, 1920, in Winnipeg, before touring Western Canada and screening in Europe, constituting the first real exposure of most Canadian and European audiences to the reality of Canada’s North and its Aboriginal peoples.

Although well known in its time, within a decade the film disappeared from circulation and from public consciousness. The canisters of film sat undisturbed for nearly eight decades in a British film archive.

In 2011, an effort began to restore the film and bring it back to the communities where it was originally shot.

Nikkel’s new documentary captures a remarkable event: people watching the footage from 1919, seeing images come to life, and recognizing their family members, their landscapes, and their lost traditions. Contrasting the present and the past, On The Trail Of The Far Fur Country is an intimate portrait of Canada and its Aboriginal peoples, and a chronicle of how life in the North has changed in the last century.

Director Kevin Nikkel will be in attendance to introduce his film, and he will be available to answer questions from the audience after the screening.  Film website is here.

Apr 1, 2015

Skip Tracer April 21st Bytowne Cinema 9:15pm


dir: Zale Dalen, 1977, Canada, DCP, 14A, 95mins

Starring: David Petersen, John Lazarus, Mike Grigg, Rudy Szabo, Sue Astley

Skip Tracer is a free-wheeling private detective story set on the mean streets of Vancouver in the late 1970's, with the twist that the detective is a loan agency's debt collector hunting down “skips” who have stopped repaying their loans. The film stars David Petersen (The Grey Fox) in the role of John Collins, a collector trying to regain his status as his agency's “Man of the Year” while reluctantly mentoring a young protegé in the business. Propelled by Petersen's wry performance, the film plays like a post-hippie critique of capitalism and “The Man”, mixing together elements of social satire and film noir. The lighter comic touches help to highlight the harsh realities of people living beyond their means in a ruthlessly monetized society, where the bonds of debt tie together debtor and creditor in a precarious dance of ambition, greed and (largely masculine) pride and shame.

Skip Tracer was the feature film debut of director Zale Dalen, who went on to a long career in Canadian television. The film played at the Toronto International Film Festival and in major cities around the world, earning its money back in its initial run, but since then it has suffered from haphazard distribution and has mainly been kept alive as a cult title through VHS distribution (often under the alternate title “Deadly Business”), or16mm screenings, and rare appearances on TV. More well-known in England and Germany than in Canada, it has nevertheless been rediscovered by Canadian audiences in recent years thanks to select revival screenings such as the one held at the Ontario Cinematheque in December 2006. At the time they described Skip Tracer a “Canadian classic”, and we're not going to argue with that description.

In cooperation with Zale Dalen and Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Ottawa's Lost Dominion Screening Collective has procured a brand new 4K digital transfer from the 35mm preservation master print held in LAC's film collection. This will be the best print of the film screened since its 1977 debut, and the audience at the ByTowne Cinema will get to see it first. It will be a great chance to see an under-appreciated West Coast cinematic gem.

Feb 8, 2015

The Luck of Ginger Coffey, March 31st, Bytowne Cinema

The Luck of Ginger Coffey

Bytowne Cinema, March 31st, 9:15pm

dir: Irvin Kershner, 100 min, 1964, Canada, 35mm black and white 35mm print, Rated PG

Preceded by the short film "Joan" by Pixie Cram, 2014, 7mins, Pixilation and stop motion short
A surreal and minimalist version of the story of Joan of Arc.

Starring: Robert Shaw, Mary Ure, Liam Redmond 

The Luck of Ginger Coffey  is a compelling drama about the travails of a high-spirited Irish immigrant trying to make his way in Montreal in the early 1960's. The film is based on Northern-Irish-Canadian author Brian Moore's Governor General's Award-winning novel, The Luck of Ginger Coffey. The title character is portrayed by legendary actor Robert Shaw (Jaws, A Man for All Seasons) in a performance that explores the bluster and fragility of a man bent on quickly improving his station in life in what he sees as “The Promised Land”. Shaw's real-life spouse Mary Ure holds her own as Coffey's wife in an equally well-pitched performance. There are few, if any, English-language Canadian films of that era that match The Luck of Ginger Coffey's quality and emotional heft. It won the Canadian Film Award for Best Feature Film in 1965. 

 The film is also notable today for the talented production team that helped bring it to the big screen. It was the second feature-length drama produced by renowned Ottawa film producer F.R. “Budge” Crawley.  By the 1960's his and his wife Judith's production company, Crawley Films, was the largest independent production company in Canada, producing a slew of television shows, commercials, documentaries, animation and training films. Crawley was determined to break into the feature film business, and after a first attempt with his 1963 surrealistic satire Amanita Pestilens, he followed up with The Luck of Ginger Coffey.

 Crawley wisely hired author Brian Moore to adapt his own novel for the screenplay. Crawley then found a seasoned American TV-director, Irvin Kershner, to helm the film. Both later went onto careers of great distinction. Over his career Moore was nominated for the Booker Prize three times. He later went on to write the novel Black Robe, also adapted into a film, and he also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain Kershner famously went on to direct the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and Sean Connery's 1983 comeback film as James Bond, Never Say Never Again. Crawley himself later won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for The Man Who Skied Down Everest in 1976. As a result of such a confluence of talent, and the performances of the lead actors, The Luck of Ginger Coffey has stood the test of time.

The film will be screened on a high-quality 35mm film print from the collection of Library and Archives Canada. Presented by the Lost Dominion Screening Collective.

Ottawa Indiefest talks with John Yemen about the film and collective here.