We all miss the Paramount downtown, especially the great job they did bringing in smaller indie films. While it's long gone, there is still a great non-profit organization here that has been continually feeding the Okanagan with a great selection of smaller budget movies that the megaplexes don't show. The Kelowna Film Society has their winter schedule out, and we've listed what they're showing here.
Every Wednesday at the Orchard Plaza Cinema (hello recliners!), show times are at 4pm and 7pm. Ticket sales will commence for the 4pm showing once theatre staff have their evening preparations complete (usually between 3pm and 3:30pm). Ticket sales will commence for the 7pm showing once the 4pm screening has finished.
Admission is $7 - cash or cheque only. Multiple show passes are available at the door. You must present your Kelowna Film Society Membership Card in order to purchase a ticket. Memberships may be purchased at the door for $1 and are good for the calendar year. Four seats are available every showing for the wheelchair audience and their companions.
The Happy Prince, February 27
The Happy Prince is both a spirited tribute to Oscar Wilde and a commentary on 19th century British mores. The movie is also Rupert Everett’s homage to Wilde’s last three years, as he stars as Wilde, wrote the screenplay and directs.
The Happy Prince opens in 1895 as Oscar Wilde is released from prison after serving two years hard labour for gross indecency. He heads to exile in Europe accompanied by two friends (one played by Colin Firth) who support him financially and help him deal with the trauma he suffered in prison.
Still, it is through his incomparable talent for story telling that Wilde finds the strength to continue bringing levity and humour to those around him. And when he sings a music hall song to defuse a cafe riot, we see someone who has long used words to deflect violence and to charm protectors.
Using flashbacks to show highlights of Wilde’s life, we see his triumphs and tragedies, his love for his sons, and the fame and success he enjoyed.
Edge of the Knife (SGaawaay K’uuna), March 6
Filmed on stunning Haida Gwaii, Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s 19th-century epic is a nod to the grand storytelling traditions that lure us to the big screen. The fact that it’s the first narrative scripted and shot in two dialects of the endangered Haida language — which has about only 20 fluent speakers left, also certifies it as a landmark work of cinema.
Guilt-ridden after a tragic accident at sea, Adiits’ii (Tyler York) retreats into the wilderness where he’s plagued by spirits and transformed into Gaagiixiid/Gaagiid, the Haida Wildman. As his loved ones, including best friend Kwa (William Russ), set out to capture and cure him, Adiits’ii grows increasingly Worferal (feral). In this spectacular rendering of a classic Haida story, life on the land is shaped by the power of the elements where natural and supernatural forces co-exist.
"Tyler York delivers a performance that goes from restless and raw to tragic and ferocious… [This is] a film stacked with stunning imagery, where the natural and mythical get tangled. Edge of the Knife begins by mourning for a lost future. But in telling this story it finds hope yet." – Radheyan Simonpillai, Now Magazine
The Silent Revolution (Das schwegende klassenzimmer), March 13
Based on a true story, The Silent Revolution follows the cascading effects when high school students in East Germany react to the Russian repression of Hungary’s 1956 revolution.
Living before the Berlin Wall was constructed, the students are able to learn the truth about the invasion and its human costs. They stage a two minute observation of silence in solidarity with the victims of the revolution, and a long, dangerous fuse is lit. Their actions involve their teacher, principal, families and ultimately the highest echelons of the state.
Carefully structured and well-acted by a predominately young cast, the film touches on youthful idealism, political oppression, rebellion, official reaction and the power of an unchecked state. How a society can foster or deform the abilities of its youngest citizens is an important theme. Fittingly, the students protesting the bloody events in Budapest live in the East German city of Stalinstadt.
“At the end of the [film] I was again grateful that my parents had good instincts and packed two suitcases in East Berlin in 1953.” – Jutta Brendemuhl, German Film @ Canada
What You Missed
Shoplifters, January 16
Director Hirokazu Kore-eda's (Our Little Sister, The Third Murder and Like Father, Like Son) latest film Shoplifters tackles the complicated dynamics of a non-typical family facing the rigid and often brutal expectations of an ancient, hierarchical society.
Winner of the 2018 Palme d’Or at Cannes and nominated for the 2019 Best Foreign Language academy award, Hirokazu Kore-eda looks at how protecting the security of a family in Tokyo can lead to morally questionable behaviour.
Kore-eda spares no irony or implied outrage at the way good becomes evil, the goal of child welfare becomes destruction, and love is understood too late to matter." – Barbara Sharres, Roger Ebert.com
Capernaum, January 23
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Capernaum ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain, a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the "crime" of giving him life. Zain is only 12, but he's seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. With numerous children to care for, his parents resort to some inventive scams, which they then pass along to Zain's incarcerated brother.
More alarmingly, Zain's parents have sold his 11-year-old sister's hand in marriage, which prompts Zain to run away. He befriends an Ethiopian cleaning woman and her baby. But life on the streets offers Zain fewer and fewer places to hide. Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, Zain files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. The trial provides the frame through which Zain's story unfolds.
Capernaum (pronounced cap AIR nay um), meaning “a place with a disorderly accumulation of objects,” is Lebanon’s entry to the 91st Academy awards and commands your attention for its authentic acting, its visuals, its humanism.
"A social-realist blockbuster - fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope." – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK).
Maria By Callas, January 30
Maria was the private woman, known only to a small circle of friends. The poised perfection that was Callas was the persona she gifted to her fans and the rest of the world. A fascinating portrait of both emerges in the new documentary Maria by Callas by French filmmaker Tom Volf.
The documentary captures one of the great talents of the 20th century, combining beautifully restored archival footage with Maria's own words. The Greek-American soprano rose to fame after the Second World War and became a star attraction in all the major opera houses. This film gives us fresh insights into her public and private lives. Maria Callas died at age 53 in 1977.
“Here's the intimate, unabashedly reverential new documentary that gives legendary diva Maria Callas the encore she deserves. And in her own voice. Fasten your seat belts.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The Fireflies are Gone (La disparition des lucioles), February 6
Best Canadian Feature (TIFF 2018), this film is a low-key, small story drama that will charm with its genuine candour and its complex, yet simple humanity. Set in a small town in Québec where the main factory just closed, this summer coming of age tale follows Léonie (Léo), an eighteen year-old girl who’s life is about to begin.
The problem is that Léo is not that optimistic – she’s not a people person, and she doesn’t care much about the future. Her dad Sylvain was a leader in the union before he exiled up north, and her step-dad, Paul, is a populist radio host for whom it’s clear why the factory closed.
Caught between fires, Léo will need to figure out what narrative will be hers, as she meets Steve, an overgrown adolescent guitar player who could also need a direction.
Supported by an all-star Québécois cast, the film also features a mix of lush and vintage pop soundtrack that creates a “satisfying, slightly mournful seriocomedy that’s equal parts cynical, hopeful, and ambivalent.” – Variety
Colette, February 13
Colette begins in 1893 with the 20-year old title character, played by Keira Knightly, meeting and eventually marrying a famous author Henry “Willy” Gauthier-Villars and moving to the city. Having spent her early years in the countryside, she initially finds life in Paris unpleasant. Willy, spends all his money on women and gambling, and is deep in debt. Finding himself in frantic need to churn out more stories than his current “factory” can produce under his pen name, he encourages Colette to write her first novel. That novel, Claudine at School, becomes a huge success.
While Colette deals with Willy’s concept of an open marriage, she has another, more challenging dilemma, to contend with. She can’t accept Willy taking the credit for her writing.
“No one reads female writers!” Willy informs Colette. But as Colette’s first four novels- the Claudine stories- written under Willy’s name, become bestsellers, Colette’s empowerment takes root.
A pioneer in women’s rights and a beloved author, she was eventually nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature just six years before her death in 1954. In an era when female accomplishments were typically overlooked or dismissed, she became a radical feminist. One of France’s most famous female authors eventually finds her voice and her brilliance shines, even amidst repression and compromise.
“Keira Knightly is on top form as Colette in this funny and inspiring costume drama.” – Ben Rolph, Film Talk
Cold War, February 20
A hauntingly romantic film, Cold War is Poland’s Oscar entry in the 2019 Foreign Language category. Three years ago the director Pawel Pawlikowski won Poland’s first Oscar in this category with Ida.
Based loosely on the director’s own parents, this black and white film covers the entirety of a couple’s love affair from their enchanted first meeting in 1949 to the aching end of their relationship in the 1960’s. Meeting through music, they fall in love and are soon struggling both with personal demons and historical forces that threaten to tear them apart.
With its striking use of choral and folk plus classical and jazz music that together help to drive the narrative, the movie is a bittersweet reflection on a relationship and an era.