The Cape Breton Island Film Series is off to great start this season. Last week’s Stories We Tell, by director/kid sister Sarah Polley, was a wonderful exercise in memory, and its collective invention of truth. If you don’t remember seeing it, you will want to seek this one out. Then maybe you can tell me about it, and then I’ll tell you, and we’ll see what we can come up with.
In the meantime, get ready to catch up this Thursday with a CBIFS double header: Stray and Barbara. Stray is the third film from Cape Breton’s own Ashley McKenzie and Nelson MacDonald. Their first film, Rhonda’s Party, won CBC’s Short Film Face-off in 2011, and last year CBIFS viewers were treated to their second, When You Sleep. McKenzie has also won Best Emerging Director at the Atlantic Film Festival, while accolades and achievements for the two filmmakers continue to roll in.
Not that you would guess it from sitting beside one of them in the theatre, which you probably have, unsuspectingly. Yes, our humble homegrown talent is there, lurking among us, quietly taking it all in. And there is something special happening here too. It’s a great privilege to watch films alongside those who have created them. I mean, when you can just lean over and whisper, “What did that guy mean when he said that?” and have, you know, Tarantino just coolly stare back at you and say “It’s cool, man. Get into it.”
Alright, I don’t know, I’m a little off my game this week. My point-and-I-do-have-one is that it will be an honour to attend the debut home screening of Stray. Filmed in Whitney Pier and starring the Pier’s own Brooklyn Campbell as Savannah, a nine-year-old seeking some place to fit in amongst the post-industrial wreckage and reshaped landscape of her town.
You may want to come early and camp out to get a seat for this one.
Following the 15-minute local short, the CBIFS is running the Cold War thriller, Barbara.
From German director Christian Petzold (who picked up Best Director at the Berlin Film Festival for this one), Barbara is the telling of a Berlin doctor sent to rural East Germany as punishment for applying for an exit visa. Nina Hoss stars as the banished doctor who, while waiting to escape with her West German lover, becomes irretrievably caught up in her new life. Impossible questions of allegiance may leave her hopelessly divided, and forever lost.
Petzold is a master of psychological suspense, and you can trust that the moral murk and visual splendour of his film will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Barbara is Germany’s official Oscar submission this year.
Hope to see you all lined up and waiting to see Stray and Barbara this Thursday night at Empire Theatres Studio 10.