Why a movie that’s too hot for the public is just right for UBC
THE PHOTOGRAPHY FLICKERS, the plot wavers, the acting is inept, the sound isn’t dubbed properly, the dialogue is unspeakable and the admission is one dollar per person. Nevertheless, a feature-length film produced by University of B. C. drama student Larry Kent is the most talked-about film to show in Vancouver for years. It’s made cinematic history by breaking even after two dozen showings.
The success of The Bitter Ash is readily explainable: audiences think it’s uirty. This attitude saddens Kent, who is twenty-nine, worked as a printer and saved $5,000 so he
could make an honest film about real people. The result, after a summer’s shooting around Vancouver with a hand-held Bolex, is a cheerless report on the problems and pregnancies of Vancouver’s teenaged bohemians. Kent’s hipsters certainly have their problems: boring jobs, square parents, joyless love affairs, marijuana, homosexuality, even leukemia. But the producer’s own problems were more interesting. Nineteen-year-old leading lady Lynn Stev\art threatened Kent with legal action unless he toned down her seminude love scene befere the film was shown. And after the amended version opened in UBC’s auditorium, scores of parents protested to President John B. MacDonald. The provincial censor restricted the film to UBC audiences and critics on both Vancouver dailies panned it savagely.
But when The Bitter Ash ended its two-week run. Kent found he’d made a $200 profit. Now he’s negotiating for showings at the universities of Toronto and Western Ontario, and thinking of issuing a cleaned-up version to commercial theatres. Meanwhile, he hopes to make another film next summer about his native South Africa. Its theme will be miscegenation. ALEXANDER ROSS
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