Powell River Film Festival will take place next month at the historic Patricia Theatre, and festival executive director Gary Shilling cannot wait to hear what moviegoers take away from this year’s cinematic lineup.
“We will show some awesome films that are getting a lot of notice around the world,” said Shilling. “For example, Parasite won the Golden Globe for best foreign film, and The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open just won the 2019 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award.”
Fourteen films will be shown over the week of the festival, with two showings each for The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open and The Men’s Room, a Norwegian documentary about a men’s choir whose director has terminal cancer.
The festival opens with A**holes: A Theory, a provocative yet playful film, according to Shilling, that takes an academic look at the rise of callous behaviour in the world.
“There is a kind of narrative arc to the festival this year,” said Shilling. “We start with A**holes, which examines people who have very little empathy for others and the reasons for that, and ends with The Men’s Room, which is full of empathy and emotion. The other films cover the spectrum between these two very well, and give a variety of insights into human behaviour.”
Some screenings will also include special guests. John Walker, director of A**holes: A Theory, will attend the festival opening on Friday, February 7, to host a discussion on the film.
On Tuesday, February 11, producers Leigh DaSilva and Marianne D'Souza (the filmmaker's brother and mother, respectively) will answer questions following When We Walk, the story of a man with primary progressive multiple sclerosis who must make hard decisions when his marriage fails and his wife moves with their young son to another state.
Finally, on Friday, February 14, co-director Kathleen Hepburn will host a discussion following the evening screening of The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.
“We’ll also have morning-after discussions at the Basecamp Outpost at Townsite Market,” said Shilling. “It will be an opportunity for people to take some time to process what they’ve seen, then come together to talk about it the next morning. And because our opening film, A**holes, is based on a book, we have partnered with the [Powell River Public] Library to host a book club and philosopher’s café on January 25. Copies of the book are available at the library for people to borrow and read, and we encourage them to come to the event and then see the film.”
Shilling hopes people will enjoy the thought-provoking content of the films.
“Our motto is ‘Engaging cinema. Engaging minds,’” he said. “These aren’t Hollywood films where the hero saves the day and marries the girl. We want to present issues that are challenging and don’t necessarily have happy endings.”
The 19th annual Powell River Film Festival will take place February 7 to 16. Tickets for individual films and festival passes can be purchased prfilmfestival.ca or in person Thursday to Saturday at Powell River Town Centre in front of Coles, between 12 and 4 pm.