By Steve Martindale
Salt Spring Film Festival
The Salt Spring Film Festival will be back at Gulf Islands Secondary School from March 3 to 5 for the first time in three years, featuring 40 new documentaries from around the world, a number of which will be presented by the filmmakers themselves.
The return to the film festival’s usual location, after a hiatus during the pandemic in which smaller film series were held at Fulford Hall and ArtSpring, means that the popular Social Justice Bazaar will also be returning to highlight the work of local nonprofits and community organizations who set up display tables in the festival’s central hub throughout the weekend.
The festival has traditionally featured films on a range of social justice issues, and this year will be no exception, as the soon-to-be-announced program line-up includes a number of engaging documentaries on Indigenous resurgence, environmental concerns and LGBTQ+ resilience, gripping exposés on international political intrigue and economic upheaval, and celebratory explorations of visual arts, modern dance and music legends.
Starting next week, the film festival will also present three award-winning films on Wednesdays at ArtSpring in the ongoing Best of the Fests film series, which began in November and December with two sold-out music documentaries on Leonard Cohen and Buffy Sainte-Marie.
Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver lead an all-star cast in Phyllis Nagy’s Call Jane, a crowd-pleasing and timely historical drama on the underground abortion movement of the 1960s, which screens at ArtSpring at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Jan. 25.
In the role of her career, Banks portrays Joy, a conservative housewife in 1968 Chicago facing an unexpected health crisis who seeks out a clandestine network of women known as The Janes, who help women terminate unwanted pregnancies at a time in America when abortion is in most cases illegal. Joy’s determination to safely resolve her own predicament leads her to risk everything in order to provide other women with the options she herself had been denied.
This surprisingly entertaining drama about a very serious subject was nominated for Best Film at both the Berlin International Film Festival and the Beijing International Film Festival, where Sigourney Weaver was awarded the prize for Best Supporting Actress.
The Best of the Fests film series continues on Wednesday, Feb. 1 with The Blue Caftan, Maryam Touzani’s richly erotic and deeply moving Moroccan drama about a master tailor caught in a taboo love triangle, which has won awards at multiple festivals and has been shortlisted for the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
Vancouver filmmaker Kat Jayme will be in attendance on Feb. 8 to present her wildly entertaining documentary The Grizzlie Truth, which won an Audience Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival, in which she doggedly investigates the scandalous 2001 relocation of the Vancouver Grizzlies to Memphis.
Don’t miss these three one-night-only screenings at ArtSpring. Tickets are $13 each and available online at artspring.ca, or at the ArtSpring Box Office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday (either in person or by phone at 250-537-2102).