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A scene from "The Bitter Ash"

3 out of 4 stars

Title
The Bitter Ash
Directed by
Larry Kent
Starring
Alan Scarfe, Lynn Stewart, Philip Brown
Genre
Drama
Country
Canada
Year
1963

Larry Kent was a 26-year-old South African immigrant when he made this movie with some of his friends and fellows at the University of British Columbia drama department. Fuelled by Edward Albee, cinéma vérité, Britain's angry young men and a determination to stick it to orthodoxy, Kent made a movie – raw, on-the-cheap and without even the budget for synchronized sound – that caused something of a sensation on those few campuses that dared show it before it was pretty much banished into Cancult oblivion. The story of the collision of bohemian and working-class values in provincial, precountercultural Vancouver, The Bitter Ash today seems less striking for its formerly transgressive content – sex, extramarital pregnancy, pot-smoking and nudity – than for its fiercely expressed attitude of utter socioeconomic despair. A true Canadian scorched-earth trailblazer.

Sept. 8, 3:45 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox

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