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30 Sep

Two B.C.-shot standouts, Ken Loach’s latest, and more from

Wild Goat Surf

September 29, 6 pm, The Rio Theatre; October 3, 3:45 pm, International Village

There is a moment, imperceptible but significant, when the unburdened, carefree, and unstructured days of adolescence begin to carry a certain weight. B.C. director Caitlyn Sponheimer explores this juncture in her summer dazed feature Wild Goat Surf. Twelve-year-old Goat (Shayelin Martin) has a crystal-clear vision of who she is, or on the very least, who she aspires to be. Despite never having laid eyes on the ocean, her dreams are full of visions of conquering big waves. Nestled within the picturesque Skaha Lake, where she and her mother spend summers in a neighboring RV park, the young teen’s thoughts are perpetually drawn to pictures of world-class surfers, especially her late father. Growingly restless, the precocious and unsupervised Goat crafts her own fun with newfound friend Nate (Leandro Guedes). The duo barrel through the tranquil, sun-soaked town on their skateboards, dedicating their afternoons to honing their browsing skills using plywood sheets on the lake, shoplifting, or trespassing into people’s pools. In her directorial debut, Sponheimer, working alongside cinematographer Joseph Schweers, captures the Okanagan Valley in a harmonious mix between the intimacy of lived-in moments and the vastness of the landscape. The film’s naturalistic lead performance extends into the unexpectedly tender dynamic between the mother and daughter. This tenderness is further enriched by Sponheimer’s depiction of Jane, Goat’s mother—a well-meaning and resilient single parent who juggles multiple jobs while enduring scrutiny of her parenting abilities at any time when Goat finds herself in a scrape. With gentle execution and well-landed elements from starting to finish, Wild Goat Surf carves its own path inside the coming-of-age genre, securely and refreshingly rooted in its unique sense of place. AR

SEAGRASS  

September 29, 9 pm, The Rio; October 1, 9 pm, SFU Woodward’s

The past is literally a ghost in Seagrass, and it harrows young Emmy while her parents struggle to patch up a faltering relationship during a retreat on Gabriola Island. Japanese-Canadian Judith is herself haunted by generational trauma following her mother’s death, while her attraction to a neighbouring couple’s husband drives an additional wedge right into a rocky interracial marriage. Seagrass offers no easy answers and ends on the type of discordant note that’s unusual for many drama, but not for the type of grown-up movies produced by BC’s Experimental Forest Movies, which also gave us 2017’s Never Regular, Never Still and 2019’s The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open. There are moments when it feels barely undercooked, however the early-’90s setting suggests that it’s a really personal work for writer-director Meredith Hama-Brown, who’s made a feature debut to be happy with. AM

A COOLER CLIMATE  

October 2, 6:15 pm, International Village

In 1960, a young James Ivory packed his camera and visited Afghanistan with the intention of creating a brief travel documentary. Over half a century later he creates an erudite film essay largely about James Ivory, through which which Proust, EM Forster, and the unfinished memoirs of Sixteenth-century Mughal emperor Babur converge with the evocative footage he brought home with him. Ivory’s recall is as sharp because the faded 16mm film is timeworn, its poor resolution and grain providing a ghostly remembrance of an Afghanistan pushing towards liberal modernization, which Ivory’s hosts in Kabul wished to advertise, at times literally cupping their hands over his lens at any time when the young filmmaker’s eye wandered towards sights they desired to conceal from the world. On the time, America and the USSR each vied for Afghanistan’s favour, and all of us understand how that ended. (Within the film’s opening minutes, Ivory casually mentions that he roomed inside a “nest of CIA spies” and that his trip was financed with “Rockefeller money.”) Nine months later, Ivory returns to Latest York and meets Ismail Merchant, whereupon A Cooler Climate ends, artfully becoming each a prologue and an afterword to an epic profession. AM

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