PuSh Festival Debuts Its 15th Anniversary Program

This week, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival launched its 2019 Festival Program, at a party at John Fluevog Shoes in Gastown. The 2019 Push Festival, January 17 to February 3 will mark the milestone 15th annual festival, bringing international performing arts to venues around Vancouver. Featuring 26 works from 24 companies from 13 countries — including six world premieres — this showcase of visionary collaboration and cutting-edge arts brings a welcome highlight to the winter culture season.

Lucy McCormick’s Triple Threat
Feb 2 –
Club Push at XY
Photo: The Other Richard

 “We launched in 2003 as a three-show series that drew 2,500 people to 21 performances at three Vancouver venues,” says Roxanne Duncan, PuSh Festival’s Interim Executive Director. “The inaugural festival opened a short two years later in 2005. Now as we prepare to celebrate our 15th anniversary, PuSh has welcomed more than 300,000 people to 366 productions from 30 countries.”

 Joyce Rosario, Interim Artistic Director of the PuSh Festival, adds: “Our programming ignites important, meaningful discussions about the world around us and is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. The 15th anniversary holds personal significance to me. Not only does it mark the final iteration guided by the vision of Norman Armour, PuSh’s co-founder and former Artistic and Executive Director, but it’s also the sixth shaped by our collaboration together as a curatorial team. This year’s festival is the result of many such partnerships, amongst the intrepid team at PuSh and with our presentation partners — some of whom have been with us since the very beginning. In 2019, we bring audiences face-to-face with a broad range of thought-provoking works that subvert the dominant narrative by changing whose perspectives are centred.”

Kids by Liu Kuan-Hsiang
Jan 24-26 at Dance Centre
Photo: Etang Chen

The six world premiere performances will be presented by contemporary dance organization Company 605; boundary-breaking dance company MACHiNENOiSY; composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea; Dora Award-winning dub poet and actor D’BI; the performers of Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons; and Guatemalan performance artist Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa.

In addition to the world premieres, another 11 performances will be Canadian premieres, including a suite of three sound-based works from Japan by ASUNA, Marginal Consort, and Tetsuya Umeda; Dancenorth Australia featuring music from Indonesian band Senyawa; and a piece from Taiwanese choreographer Liu Kuan-Hsiang.

X Marks the Movement – Opening Night at The Beaumont Studios
Photo: Kimmortal & Immigrant Lessons

New for the 2019 season, Club PuSh, the home of the festival’s most edgy and experimental work,  will be located in multiple spaces across the city and home to Opening and Closing Night parties.

The PuSh Film Series at Vancity Theatre, presents movies perfectly paired to the program,  and PuSh Assembly will stimulate dialogue through free talks for the public and industry networking events.

To celebrate its 15th year, PuSh Festival is offering audiences a limited time offer of $15 tickets for 15 days. The 15x15x15 offer applies to the full festival program: 26 critically acclaimed works from different artistic disciplines. The 15X15X15 promotion is on now and November 30th so get your tickets at pushfestival.ca before they’re all gone.

Free Film Screening of Miscellaneous Productions “Monsters”

Vancouver’s MISCELLANEOUS Productions is a non-profit, charitable society using art as a path for social change and personal transformation in culturally and socially at-risk youth – empowering them to be fully participating citizens.

Monsters
pic Chris Randle

Last year, the company debuted, Monsters – an anti-racism, anti-bullying play with hip hop and World music and dance. Funding from Heritage Canada allowed for MISCELLANEOUS Productions to document the production on film, which is making its Vancouver debut November 8th. Screening in Canadian communities this fall, the film forms the basis of dialogues and performing arts workshops with/for culturally and socially inclusive multi-barriered youth.

Monsters is a transdisciplinary musical theatre work loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It explores how and why a community creates and supports a ‘monster’, how collusion functions, and how people are often attracted to individuals with loud, brash, forceful or aggressive personalities but are unaware of how incredibly damaging they can be.

Monsters premiered in October of 2017 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. Following the Vancouver opening of Monsters, components of the production toured to Catalonia in November 2017.

Ghosts of Productions Past
pic: Chris Randle

On Thursday November 8th, MISCELLANEOUS Productions is holding a FREE screening for the Vancouver film premiere of Monsters, at The Annex, 823 Seymour Street.  The Monsters film screening will be preceded by MISCELLANEOUS Productions’ 5-minute short film, Ghosts of Productions Past. Making its World Premiere, the short is a new and nasty feminist satire of the whiteness of the Canadian theatre scene, #MeToo, #TimesUp and the recent disturbing events at various North American theatre companies.  

MISCELLANEOUS Productions’ Free Screening of Monster, with Ghosts of Productions Past, takes place November 8, 2018 at 7pm. Doors open at 6pm, admission is free but seating is limited.  Due to scenes of violence, the screening is not recommended for children 12 or under. 

Arts Club Theatre Company : Once

Gili Roskies & Adrian Glynn McMorran
photo: Emily Cooper

Once is definitely not enough when it comes to seeing Arts Club Theatre Company’s Once, now playing at the Granville Island Stage.  The final show of the season, and for Artist Director Bill Millerd’s 45 season reign as the guiding force of the Art Club, certainly makes a memorable impact.

The heartwarming and heartbreaking story of Guy meets Girl, based on the 2007 film of the same name, takes the audience on a journey filled with music, laughter, melancholy, romance and inspiration.  Known only as Girl (an ‘honest’ Czech aspiring pianist, played by Gili Roskies) and Guy (a struggling Dublin musician, played by Adrian Glynn McMorran), our leads’ meet cute involves busking and a Hoover.  That oddball scenario, foretells the unique show that’s to come.  While Girl struggles with her feelings for Guy and loyalty to her estranged husband, she champions Guy to never give up on his heart and music.  Once would be nothing without that music, written by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova (the original film’s leads) the heartfelt songs stand-out like a third lead; moving the story along, connecting the characters and allowing Guy and Girl to sing what they can’t say.

To help bring the duo’s musical aspirations to a fruition, a company of colourful characters gather; both Czechs and the Irish play multiple instruments, dance, and sing often all at the same time.  While all the company are solid; stand outs include Chris Cochrane as Billy the music shop owner and admirer of Girl, who plays well off of the always solid Caitriona Murphy.  There are a couple moments when the Irish accents sound a bit like their protecting their Lucky Charms, but it’s not enough to distract from the feeling that the audience is a Dublin pub with the company.  Set designer Ted Roberts makes the most of the small Granville Island stage to recreate the feeling of an Irish Pub, which is open to the audience for on stage drinks and a kitchen party style opening jam session that leads into the show.  From this lively opening to the emotional Academy Award winning song “Falling Slowly”, Once moves us and makes us cheer for Guy and Girls’ relationship and leaves us fulfilled but wanting to know the rest of their stories.

See it once or often but definitely see it before it’s gone.  Once is playing at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until July 29, 2018.

2018 DOXA Festival Closes With Awards Presentation

As the 2018 DOXA Documentary Film Festival came to a close last Sunday night, the annual DOXA Awards were announced in advance of the Festival’s closing night screening.

Four juried awards were presented to the following;

The Feature Documentary Award :  Mercedes Dominioni’s The Creator of Universes.

Of the winning film, jury members Tom Charity, Steffanie Ling and Anoushka Ratnarajah stated: “We celebrate Mercedes Dominioni’s patient and caring The Creator of Universes, a layered, captivating film built around a unique collaboration between the filmmaker’s teenage brother Juan, and their grandmother Rosa. This is a film of extraordinary formal creativity balancing Juan’s dramatic home movie/Telenovela footage (often very funny) with a sense of real life spilling over the edges. Dominioni’s love for these characters is simply transmitted.” 

Honourable Mention: Shevaun Mizrahi’s Distant Constellations “A poetic portrait of the inhabitants of an old people’s home in Turkey remarkable for its intimacy, humour and cinematography.”

The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary : Laura Bari’s Primas.

Jury members Ana Carruzales, Kelly Maxwell, and Susi Porter-Bopp said of the film: “Primas is a timely cinematic tale that travels beyond survival, walking the audience through the inconceivable with artistic sensibility, gently amplifying the voices of these courageous, unforgettable cousins. Filmmaker Laura Bari’s empathetic camera fiercely refuses to shy away from a heinous reality that is still so sadly relevant for young women. With poetic, sublime and rough imagery on its edges, Bari sheds a triumphant light by capturing the beautiful spirit of our Primas.”

Honourable Mention: Simon Plouffe’s Those Who Come Will Hear, for its evocative and unique representation of the languages, speakers, and context in Northern Quebec.  

The Nigel Moore Award for Youth Programming : Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap.

The jury of Steven Hawkins, Jacob Saltzberg, Tegan Dobson, Anna Hetherington, and Maya Biderman stated: “The film follows a group of three young men who bond together through friendship and skateboarding to escape violent families in a small town. Bing has an acute ability to extract raw emotions from his friends. He portrays the cruel cycles of domestic violence, and shows the ongoing dynamic effects these have on all the relationships surrounding them. This allows him to paint a picture of harsh realities that would otherwise be masked by society’s policing of machismo ideals. This is an important film for adolescents and parents alike to see, and therefore a clear choice to receive this award. Congratulations, Bing.”

Honourable Mention: Jules Koostachin & Rick Miller’s Butterfly Monument, “Equal parts a memorial to Shannen Koostachin, and a spotlight on the importance of her advocacy work. It shows the impact one young life can have on both a cause and community, and reminds us that spirit is transcendent.”

The Short Documentary Award : Paloma Martinez’s Cristanto Street.

Jury members Michelle Mason, Tony Massil, and Sonia Medel awarded the prize “for exposing the collateral social damage of contemporary racism and land cartels with surprising tenderness and hope. On a little street in San Francisco, Paloma Martinez captured the beauty of community and the true meaning of home in a powerful short with global implications.”

Honourable Mention: Michelle Latimer’s Nuuca for “its quiet urgency and artfulness in a timely meditation on land, tying the violent nature of resource extraction to the exploitation of indigenous women.” 

For more details about the award winning documentaries and jurist biographies, visit doxafestival.ca/festival-awards.
Return next spring for more great documentary films from around the world at DOXA 2019.

A Night at the Movies with China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra

Cinema In Concert with CBFSO

The China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra (CBFSO), brings the sounds of movies to The Orpheum Theatre on January 12th for one night only.

The Canada-China Culture Development Association presents an evening of cinematic masterpieces.  Cinema In Concert find the internationally-renowned CBFSO, led by acclaimed conductor Pang Ka Pang, performing dramatic scores from Oscar-winning films, while iconic scenes are projected above them.  One of China’s oldest and finest symphony orchestras, the 80-member ensemble will bring life to film scores of five Academy Award winning composers, including Braveheart, Casablanca, Jurassic WorldLegends of the Fall, and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as works from China’s cinema.

CBFSO Conductor Pang Ka Pang

Since forming in 1949, the CBFS Orchestra has performed and recorded music of nearly 2,000 films, TV dramas and documentaries. First touring abroad in 1992, the orchestra has now performed in more than 40 countries on five continents, working closely with renowned conductors, composers, dancers and performers.

During its performance at The Orpheum, the 80-piece orchestra will perform with special guest soloists from  the local Vancouver music community, including the 100-member local community choral group, the Vancouver Folk Song and Dance Troupe.

Cinema in Concert with the China Broadcasting Film Symphony Orchestra takes place Friday, January 12, 2018 at 8pm at The Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets are on sale at ticketstonight.ca

Watch “The Flick” at The Arts Club

The Flick ACTCIt’s not often you can combine a night of live theatre with watching the cinema, that’s exactly what you get with The Flick on stage now at The Arts Club Theatre Granville Island Stage.  Be a fly on the wall and see what happens when the viewers leave and the staff take over to clear out and clean up the cinema.

The simple but creative staging of The Flick takes us into a old-school movie theatre and watch three of it’s staff members; Rose (Shannon Chan-Kent), Avery (Jesse Reid) and Sam (Haig Sutherland). The play’s action is mostly the staff go about their rather mundane tasks of cleaning and sweeping the auditorium after the movie is over.  While the action may be similar to a Seinfeld episode, a ‘comedy about nothing’, The Flick packs a lot of insightful topics into the mundane actions.  Friendship, jealousy, socio-economic status, race, sexuality, family dynamics, mental health and much more are packed into the trio’s conversations.  Along the way, there’s plenty of drama and laughter during the 180 minutes.

The Flick runs at The Arts Club Theatre Company’s Granville Island Stage until October 29, 2016.

Shoot hoops with Pistol Shrimps & DoXa Festival

This week, DOXA Documentary Film Festival presented their 2nd Annual Free Outdoor Screening at Robson Square.  “Pistol Shrimps” was a fan favourite during the 2016 DOXA Festival and the screening on Wednesday brought the film to even more fans. To get the audience in the bball mood, early arriving spectators were treated to a display of basketball skills by the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Basketball Team before the film started

Pistol 1Canadian filmmaker Brent Hodge’s documentary follows the Pistol Shrimps, a women’s intramural basketball team in Los Angeles.  A ragtag group of women have come together to revive the women’s recreational league in LA and come away with new skills, new friends and new confidence.  The Pistol Shrimps include musicians, comediennes, writers, and actresses, like Audrey Plaza, with little or no basketball skills but with a great love of the game and competition.  For some it’s a return to team sports they played in high school, for others it’s a chance to have a team experience they missed out on through their childhood.  For most it’s an opportunity to gain genuine female camaraderie that is lacking in Los Angeles especially in the entertainment industry.

Humour plays throughout the film but the players take their sport and the Pistol Shrimps with complete seriousness.  While it’s a funny film, the director never plays the subjects for laughs, instead telling a true tale of a group of naturally funny women playing on a serious team.

If you get the chance to catch the film at a festival near you, jump at the chance! Watch for more DOXA Screenings throughout the year leading up to the 2017 Festival May 4 – 14, 2017.