By STEVE MARTINDALE
SALT SPRING FILM FESTIVAL SOCIETY
Kat Jayme fell in love with professional basketball as a child thanks to the Vancouver Grizzlies, who were based in the city in the late ‘90s as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada, until their abrupt and unexplained departure to Memphis in 2001.
Over their six years in Vancouver, the Grizzlies lost far more often than they won, facing defeat a record-breaking 359 times.
“They taught me to dream big and to never give up,” says Jayme, a graduate of UBC’s film school. “The untold story of why the Grizzlies left Vancouver has stuck with me for two decades.”
Now an award-winning filmmaker, Jayme is realizing her own big dreams with her first feature documentary, The Grizzlie Truth, which premiered to huge acclaim at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) in October, where it caused a sensation and was honoured with an Audience Choice award.
What begins as a superfan’s dogged determination to uncover the reasons behind the ill-fated team’s puzzling disappearance becomes a love letter to the worst professional sports franchise in history and an exploration of the deep roots of fandom.
Much more than a sports story, this underdog epic seamlessly blends laugh-out-loud humour with the filmmaker’s quixotic journey in search of truth and redemption, exploring the powerful connection fans have with their hometown teams, win or lose.
You certainly don’t have to be a basketball fan to enjoy this wildly entertaining documentary, screening at ArtSpring on Wednesday, Feb. 8, as part of the Salt Spring Film Festival’s ongoing “Best of the Fests” film series.
“I almost skipped this film at VIFF this year,” says Diane Thomas, longtime member of the Salt Spring Film Festival’s board of directors and screening committee. “A documentary about basketball? Not for me.” Describing it as one of the best films at VIFF this year, Thomas calls The Grizzlie Truth “fabulous and surprising – a finely crafted, fast-paced film with a very determined young woman at the heart of it. You will love Kat Jayme and you will definitely love her film.”
The Salt Spring Film Festival’s “Best of the Fests” series includes the Feb. 1 screening of 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 was shortlisted for the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
Don’t miss these two one-night-only screenings at ArtSpring. Tickets are $13 each (and a student rate of $8 is available for The Grizzlie Truth) and are 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).
And mark your calendars for the dates of this year’s film festival, which is returning to Gulf Islands Secondary School for the first time in three years, from March 3 to 5, featuring 40 documentaries from around the world, some presented by visiting filmmakers.