CJSF at the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival


Once again, CJSF made it's way to the 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival. Check out some of the film reviews from our contributors:

Human Nature by Sam Miller

Human Nature was a personal top pick out of all the movies featured in VIFF 2019. As a Molecular Biology & Biochemistry major at SFU, I have read published papers in journals like Nature about the potential and endless benefits that the newly discovered CRISPR-Cas9 system has for the future. 

Not aware of CRISPR-Cas9? It was first discovered in bacteria as an immune response to viruses, but now has been manipulated to become a molecular technology for editing the genomes of the biosphere. The vast potential for eradicating hereditary disease, designer babies, removal of pain, along with major ethical concerns were all discussed in depth in Human Nature.

If you are already interested in how this new genetic tool works, I highly recommend this film. The concepts of homologous direct repair and genetic disorders were clear and easy to grasp. At one point I thought the picture explained the CRISPR-Cas9 system better than my professors have. Cinematic depictions of unwinding DNA helices, nucleic acids switching from A’s to G’s and T’s to C’s, enzymes cutting DNA and copying desired sequences to edit a genome seemed as easy as editing a Word document. Not only is the documentary educational and thought provoking, it also has its own nerdy sense of humor.

The emotional impact of genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia, along with the suffering that individuals and families face due to these diseases, gave the audience an idea how this new technology can be used for the greater good. At the same time, one genius after another warned us of the many negative implications that might arise from changing the human genome.

I asked my friend, a studying Biologist, what her thoughts are on editing the human genome. “We should not gene edit. It should not be open to everyone, you know what I mean? It should not be controlled by any bias board or court.”. Despite Sam’s opinion, Human Nature will give you a glimpse into the future of science and humanity.

Other Music by Sam Miller

Other Music is titled after a subversive, obscure New York record store. The film is a humble story about the culture of slinging CD’s and records until you just can’t anymore. The record store featured in the film was fundamental for supporting some favorite Indie artists popular such as St. Vincent, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend and others. Old clips of these artists performing inside the store reminded me of the shows I attended at Vancouver’s own Neptoon Records on Main street.

The passion for music outside of the commercial spotlight reminded me of CJSF and the musical content we strive to present to our listeners. One of the employees interviewed for the documentary said that Other Music was more than just a store, it was also a shrine for music and the local underground DIY scene. So many names of talented artists I’ve never heard of were thrown around. It made me want to write them all down and search them up on YouTube or Discogs later.

Other Music operated in a unique way compared to other record stores. The non-conforming personality of all the long-time employees could be seen in the way they would write about the records on the walls and the categories by which they were ordered.

The stores closing in 2016 is what inspired the documentary. Its absence shook the scene and left a hole in the community. I believe this tragic end to a cool, hip, cultural location of any sort is a common story, one that we can see happening in our own city of Vancouver. After the credits rolled, the director of the film encouraged everyone to go into your local independently owned stores at least once a month to help give life to these businesses.

Water Over Glass by Aya Halliday

Going against the grain of traditional filmmaking, Water Over Glass takes a new approach to composer-filmmaker collaborations. Unlike conventional films, Water Over Glass was borne from a soundtrack. Composer and Vancouver-based pianist Jason Zumpano creates an ethereal and at times eerie narrative soundscape, which is visually interpreted by four separate filmmakers - Kellen Jackson, Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty, Jimi Pantalon and Amanda Thomson. This is not the first cinematic endeavor of Zumpano as the Cyrillic Typewriter, but this project is unique in its extensive collaboration with a diverse group of individual filmmakers. While these interpretations are visually distinct; from animations, to beach side dances, to spacey time lapses, they hold a common narrative that follows the flow and pace of Zumpano’s soundtrack.

At times lonely and subdued, yet continuously playful and whimsical, Water Over Glass invites the audience on a fantastical journey of art and music. The individuality of these four filmmakers shines through as we discover the truly expansive potential and unique interpretations that are available from a shared piece of music. Visually opposite pieces which would otherwise collide transition in harmony. Akin to a listening party wherein the music transforms a group of strangers into close friends, this collaboration has something for everybody, and finds common ground with its variety of complimentary visuals. If you are looking for an opportunity to relax and explore the inner wanderings of your mind, then Water Over Glass may be just right for you.

  • Posted on: 22 October 2019
  • By: arts and entert...