Tales from the wild west

By Andrea MacRae

What could possibly say "Canada’s vast wild prairies" better than Vacuum Siv?

The Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers is participating in the third annual Prairie Tales tour. This event, organized by Edmonton’s Metro Cinema, is a chance for filmmakers from all over western Canada to expose their movies to new communities and benefit from the audience’s feedback.

Prairie Tales III: Traplines, A Tour of Western Canadian Film consists of work from 13 different filmmakers and is anything but average Western representation.

"Some [movies] are dark. Some deal with sexuality. Mine is just comic relief," says local animator Don Filipchuk.

Stories vary from the adventures of an Eastern European woman and her immigration officer, to a scathing social commentary on the media that lasts two and a half minutes. None of them include horses, cattle or covered wagons, though.

The common link between all the films is their notions of space. William Evans, this year’s tour curator, uses the theme of traplines to contexualize the chosen works.

"Like the intricate grids of the prairie landscape as seen from the air, the films in this series deal in one way or another with a sense of place, or perhaps more accurately, with the placement of ourselves within specific geographical/emotional/metaphysical spaces," says Evans.

What makes this tour special is that while it’s hitting major urban centres, it’s setting out on the road less-traveled and going to sparsely populated areas like Grand Prairie. This gives small-town Albertans the chance to view local film and gives the creators a chance to receive feedback–most of which has been really positive.

It’s a great chance for people with an interest in film to see that "[making movies] on your own can be done, and that it’s done by Albertans all the time," says Lines Radial creator Andrew Jaremko.

The fact the films are to be shown at high schools as well as community centres will give aspiring film buffs the encouragement they need to get involved.

Prairie Tales is a chance to take in local film and meet the artists behind the shorts. It’s also a chance to see that Western culture isn’t just cowboy hats and beer.

Prairie Tales III will show in Calgary at the CSIF Theatre Sat., March 24.

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