Canada has some amazing filmmakers. But because they’re not living in Hollywood, they’re not nearly as famous as many U.S. counterparts in the film industry.
I’ve written before about Hama-Brown’s Seagrass, which premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival. It’s a riveting narrative about a family coping with a troubled mixed-race marriage. For this, Hama-Brown captured the distinguished FIPRESCI Prize, which is awarded to young filmmakers.
The B.C. writer and director didn’t just want to focus on the married couple. She also tells a layered story about two daughters, who are each dealing with their own life challenges.
“What the two daughters are going through is a very universal experience around sibling dynamics,” Hama-Brown told Pancouver earlier this year. “I think there’s a lot of rivalry but also a lot of love and protection.”
In addition, Hama-Brown subtly and deftly illustrates how intergenerational trauma linked to the incarceration of Japanese Canadians has left a lasting impact.
Seagrass features Ally Maki and Luke Roberts as the married couple who visit an island retreat with their daughters to try to patch up their marriage. Maki’s character is Japanese Canadian and Roberts’s character is white.
The film screens at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. Tickets are available here.
Kazemi’s film shines light on colonial tactics
Meanwhile, Kazemi’s Beyond Extinction is a stunning documentary about a B.C. First Nation that was falsely declared “extinct” in 1956 by the federal government.
It’s a story of ethnic cleansing in B.C. And it speaks volumes about the Indian Act and Canada’s history as a settler-colonial state.
Kazemi, who’s based in Toronto, started filming in 1995 when he accompanied Vancouver lawyer Zool Suleman on a trip to the Kootenays. Suleman was representing a Sinixt man, Robert Watt, who was fighting deportation to the United States.
Watt claimed that he had the right to travel freely across the border. That was because the Sinixt people’s traditional territory extended from Washington state into the Arrow Lakes region of B.C.
In addition to telling Watt’s story, Beyond Extinction documents how federal and provincial governments pursued a divide-and-conquer strategy by pitting First Nations against one another. He had seen this done before by British colonizers in India, where he was born. In fact, colonizers have played this game repeatedly around the world to disrupt unity within anti-colonial movements.
It’s also clear from Kazemi’s film that the Sinixt people are far from extinct in B.C.—and they’re not ready to give up their rights without a fight.
Beyond Extinction will be screened at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday at Cineplex Odeon International Village Cinemas. Tickets are available here.
The Vancouver Asian Film Festival continues with online screenings until November 12.