While the warm month of April is upon us in some parts of Canada, the last bit of winter is still lingering somewhere in the rest of country. Newfoundland and Labrador filmmaker Rosemary House’s interactive video anthology arrives just in time to show the month of March is not forgotten. On the National Film Board of Canada’s website, she has created a journal to show how this easternmost province is steeped in the tradition of sustainability and self-sufficiency―and the memories of leaner times from the not-too-distant past.
The Hungry Month of March is a Rock Island Productions/National Film Board of Canada co-production made with the participation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation. This interactive documentary anthology features 14 short profiles of 10 suppliers who do the kind of work that almost everyone in the province’s remote out-port communities used to do―when people were self-sufficient by necessity.
Watching how the other side of Canada makes itself sustainable is fascinating. The video clips are short and to the point. The layout and design of the web page is beautiful to look at. The journal/sketch-book format works well to highlight the various seasons and each page is a look at a specific individual from Newfoundland talking about a particular aspect of harvesting / making ends-meat year-round.
Cherry Bomb Toys in Victoria, BC is expanding. Not only do they have the National Toy Museum of Canada, on the second floor, which showcases approximately 80 years of love for childhood knickknacks, but soon, they will be opening their basement for people to use on a by appointment basis. The official opening is tentatively set for the end of March.
This area will not be limited to families wishing to celebrate their child’s birthdays (or an adult’s) in a venue that does not have to be their home. B Woodword, manager of the store, explained that not everyone has the space, especially if they live downtown, and cleanup for a whole home can be a chore. This operation’s idea is to offer a safe space so people can have fun in. There’s an arcade area filled with classic gaming consoles (Nintendo and SEGA were spotted) and four separate television screens so anyone can game with. People can bring their own next-gen consoles, but the purpose of this space is to stay retro. A dining room type area (with a few basic kitchen essentials) exists so people can mingle in. Of course, washroom facilities is down the hall.
Included in the rental party package ($200 for 2 hours) includes LEGO product promotions. Anyone celebrating a birthday here gets a build-a-fig product to take home. The honouree gets a $20 gift certificate and lots of bricks to play with while here.
Updated: Mon 11:30pm, Feb 6
Virtual Reality is poised to become a viable medium to work in for many an artist (cinema or otherwise) and at the 2017 Victoria Film Festival, I spent a part of my weekend at Fort Tectoria playing these types of games and attending the last discussion of Springboard talking about it. This medium is a challenge to work in; Derek Jacoby, Maureen Bradley and Kate McCallum are people with a tremendous interest in this tech and they presented a fascinating look into how to work with and filming in virtual space is at now. The challenges to make it mainstream was also looked at.
Jacoby is aware of what other companies are doing. He’s the head of Victoria Makerspace, a collective tool workshop at the Vancouver Island Technology Park, where they get to play, if not create items, that will get used in the future. Whether that’s with video games (which they all agree is the driving force now) or in rehabilitation (where VR can make a huge difference to those with disabilities and can not get out in the world), as long as interest is high, then it will happen. Unlike 3DTV’s and how it fizzled, Jacoby also noted there’s the potential of mainstream not accepting it. Bradley focussed on the challenges of filming in this space and showed how video editing (where my interest is) is done. Software stitches the varying layers of 2D images onto a 3D like map, and rendering is not a perfect science. McCallum talked about the work she’s doing now and which types of businesses are taking interest in this new medium.
The 2017 Victoria Film Festival‘s Gala film certainly painted the night a pretty shade of pink with its opening film Window Horses to kick off the night. I thought the heroine Rosie Ming was wearing this event’s colours before putting on the black chādor, before arriving in Persia. Intentional or not, the first day was certainly fun, bright and cheerful. The morning and afternoon were wrought with continuous snowfall, and some of the organizers worried that it might cause problems since social media was on fire with reports of icy conditions and accidents already happening.
Thankfully, the troublesome weather faded away by evening so filmgoers can safely drive instead of slide to and fro from home. But for those who want an early start, Fort Tectoria is running virtual reality demos during this 10-day event to show off this technology as the coming thing. Eventually, some futurists predict it will integrate with cinema to create enhanced experiences. By the time I arrived downtown, I had a tough call to make: to go see Journey to the West 2: The Demons Strike Back at Cineplex Odeon or play video games. Very rarely, does a film festival offer this kind of opportunity for nerds like me!
Tickets can be bought online or at the door. A one time $2 membership fee is required to attend all movies.
The 23rd Annual Victoria Film Festival takes place from Feb 3 to 12, 2017, and the selection is as regularly diverse as my tastes. Missing this year is the In Conversation series, and this particular aspect has always been of interest to me. I love hearing about the thought processes of these talented filmmakers. Sometimes, one might get to meet some really big names. One year had Gareth Edwards present, talking about his work prior to Godzilla. Now that he has helmed one of the biggest movies of 2016, Star Wars: Rogue One, how many people can say they have met him?
Taking the Frame Off is a new program examining the coming trends, but will it be the same? With topics ranging from “What’s App, Doc” which looks at how content is consumed in a digital age to “Storytelling in Virtual Worlds,” my guess is in how media is created for the modern age will be at the forefront. Plenty can be said about how this new medium, VR, can work. This year, it is getting the spotlight at Play @ The Fort at Tectoria on 777 Fort Street. Here, demos of how virtual reality works will be offered free of charge and the games that’s playable now will be the spotlight. If we ask nicely, perhaps they might have a presentation of Allumette or Henry the Hedgehog.
More about this up and coming technology will be explored in an upcoming interview to be published on otakunoculture.com with Vincent McCurley, a technology specialist working for the National Film Board of Canada. They will be offering eight titles, two of them are shorts, at this year’s event! Of course, leading the charge is my top pick, which is also this year’s opening gala.
Window Horses (drama, animation)
Feb 3, 7pm – Cineplex Odeon Downtown
The unique character designs and visual styles are at the heart of why I’m loving this film, and it is topping many of my lists of movies to must see. With a story about young Rosie Ming (voiced by Sandra Oh) going to Iran, just what will she find there? She’s a poet yearning to visit Paris, but this Middle Eastern country is nowhere close to the City of Lights. Here, she will discover secrets to her mixed heritage and I suspect this coming of age film will be a true delight. This movie is selected as the opening Gala for this festival.
Supernatural tales permeate throughout most of Victoria, British Columbia and there’s a handful of ghosts who love visiting eateries. With Halloween near, interest in this world is at its peak, and some may want to dine at an allegedly haunted establishment.
As a paranormal enthusiast who is trying to keep up to date with new tales, I present a catalogue of nearly every haunted eatery in this city. Some I’ve been to dine at and others are still on my bucket list.
In a few stories I’ve personally been told, Monty’s Showroom Pub (closed) was also haunted and I was invited to investigate this place with me and my PARAVI friends. We did not find anything conclusive, but to be in this venue after hours and quiet certainly had a different ambience.
The area around Bastion Square has a fair number of haunts within a square block. With a few friends who once operated a restaurant or late-night pub in this area, they have related to me a few experiences: a past owner/operator of Baja Surf Grill (no longer in operation) mentioned finding wall hangings strewn on the floor and while I think he’s pulling my leg, the area is old enough to have some secrets. But in all the tales he tells me, I figure the ghosts of downtown Victoria love him. He used to run a downstairs pub, close to The Churchill, many years ago and recalls seeing something on the stairs!