In storytelling ghosts are often used to frighten the audience or as harbingers of gruesome events about to befall the main characters. In the locally produced movie Tora, however, ghosts are used as a way of delivering an unsettling message that haunts Canada’s past. The movie is screening this Sunday at the Creekside Theatre.
During the second world war thousands of Canadians of Japanese descent were interned at camps in B.C.’s interior. Their homes and belongings were taken from them by the government and sold to be used to pay for the costs of running the camps.
When film makers Wendy Ord and Glen Samuel of Mountain Lake Films moved to Carr’s Landing three years ago they became curious about a group of old buildings located near their home next to Kopje Park. They asked a few neighbors about the buildings and were told that they were the remnants of one of the old Japanese internment camps.
A little more research by Ord and Samuel revealed that the buildings were not in fact an internment camp. Nonetheless, the pair was inspired to make a film speaking to the injustices experienced by Japanese Canadians during those years.
“In a lot of ways what happened to them is a mirror of what’s going on today. Canada’s reaction to Pearl Harbour stripped Japanese Canadians of their rights. Now after 9/11 we’re starting to see the same issues arise through racial profiling,” says Ord.
While the film may carry a message, it was made to entertain and show off the beauty of Lake Country. Great acting and character development ensures that the film never comes across as self-righteous or preachy.
One of the film’s actors is instantly recognizable as B.C.’s own David Suzuki in his first ever acting role. Ord connected with Suzuki on the set of a documentary about his life. She took the opportunity to pass on a script for Tora to him and he loved the story. As it would turn out, Suzuki himself was one of those interned when he was just six years old.
Ord says Suzuki was nervous coming to the set but he was excited to try acting. The other actors in the film created a professional atmosphere and she says that he really bounced off their energy.
Another face in the film that may be familiar to some residents is that of Darby Taylor. Taylor lives in Lake Country and anyone who has ever gone to a production of the Creekside Players is likely to recognize him in Tora.
Another interesting fact about Tora, is the manner in which the film was shot. Samuel says that despite all of the technology available in today’s digital cameras, film still looks better but it does cost more. Typically small film companies shoot their work digitally to keep their costs down. Tora was shot on a new kind of film that was designed to cut the cost of traditional film in half. It’s one of the first films to use the new format and now those in the film industry have chosen Tora to showcase it to the world.
Already Tora is scheduled to screen at the Vancouver Women in Film Festival, Heart of Gold International Film Festival in Australia, and the Garden State International Film Festival in New Jersey.
Tora shows at the Creekside Theatre on Sunday, February 13. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. with the film starting at 2:30 p.m. The cost is $5 (cash only) and copies of the film on DVD will be available to purchase for $10. Running time is 30 minutes. Visit www.torathemovie.com to view the trailer.