Brotherhood by Richard Bell is based on the real-life capsizing of a canoe in Ontario in 1926 that killed 11. (Submitted)

Brotherhood by Richard Bell is based on the real-life capsizing of a canoe in Ontario in 1926 that killed 11. (Submitted)

Director visiting Sidney says movie gives voice to boys

Recent death of brother gives Richard Bell’s Brotherhood added personal dimension

Personal and public tragedies unfolding in both the past and the present, including a brother’s death, will hover front and centre when Canadian filmmaker Richard Bell appears in Sidney Thursday to discuss his movie Brotherhood.

The movie — which will close out its run at the Star Cinema on Thursday after first appearing on Aug. 14 — tells the story of teenaged boys and their male adult leaders making life and death choices after a freak storm capsizes their canoe. While drawing inspiration from real-life events in rural Ontario in the 1920s, Bell frames the movie as a commentary on the Boy Crisis. Its theorists lament that boys find themselves falling behind their female peers in many areas for a multitude of reasons in warning of societal dysfunction, an idea that has received opposition from feminist and other circles.

While the movie features female characters in flashbacks, its largely male cast led by Brendan Fehr (Night Shift, Roswell) and Brendan Fletcher (The Revenant) lacks diversity and Bell readily admits the movie would not receive financing in today’s climate. But this aspect neither diminishes its story-telling power nor its contemporary relevancy, he said.

When producers asked Bell to show them how the movie would be relevant (he started work on it in 2011), he had a “light-bulb moment” after studying academic and popular literature that addresses the Boy Crisis, a subject that rose to the forefront with the Columbine Massacre but also has literary antecedents in characters including Peter Pan, Pinocchio and various myths.

RELATED: Sidney’s Star Cinema looks to reel in audience with reopening

“In the 1920s, people were just as concerned about boys, because a lot of their fathers did not return from the war,” he said. “And if they did, they were just a shell of the human they were. So boys had to grow up pretty fast.” In fact, community leaders of the era considered camps like the one shown in the movie as a corrective to the listlessness of boys, a condition then blamed on contemporary media.

“Boys need time together, they need to be outside, they need to be rubbing elbows with another, they need to unplug from the radio,” he said. “I read this article from the 1920s about how boys were just so obsessed with gangster movies. You can make that gangster rap now,” he said.

This question about the movie’s contemporary relevancy has since gained tragic personal dimension following the recent death of Bell’s older brother at the age of 47 because of a fentanyl overdose.

“That question has a new relevancy for me because my brother really was a lost boy,” said Bell, who learnt about his brother’s death from his younger brother, while attending a barbecue in Ontario hosted by one of the cast members. This loss led Bell to abandon his plans for a promotional tour of the movie through Ontario, flying home to be with his mother in Vancouver, from where he called the Peninsula News Review.

Brotherhood is also running against the larger backdrop of various social justice movements (Me Too, Black Lives Matter) and of course, the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are in the ’20s again oddly and these movements are making great strides, and I really hope that men and boys don’t get left behind in these big conversations about mental health and wellness and empowerment and self-love and all that kind of stuff,” he said. “Right now, I feel like manhood is being demonized. The villain right now is the straight, white male. My brother was a straight, white male and he was no villain.”

The movie also comments on the current pandemic. For one, the real-life characters inspiring the movie were alive during the Spanish Flu and one of the adult characters in the movie lost his son because of it. The movie also poses questions about the level of sacrifice that individuals are prepared to make during an existentialist, unforeseen crisis.

Brotherhood is about a kind of nobility and selflessness, a kind of sacrifice that is so pure and seemingly more and more rare, that I hope people will walk out of the film wanting to be a little bit better,” he said. “I truly feel that people show who they are in an emergency.”

Bell will discuss this and the other subjects after the 3:10 and 7 p.m. showings on Thursday.

RELATED:Sidney’s Cameo project on pace despite pandemic


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Movies

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Braden Holtby’s new mask designed in collaboration with Luke Marston and David Gunnarsson. (Mike Wavrecan photo)
Vancouver Island Coast Salish artist unveils new mask for Canucks goalie

Braden Holtby’s new mask features artwork by Luke Marston inspired by the legend of the seawolf

Alan Tudyk stars as Alien Harry Vanderspeigel in the new series Resident Alien (Photo by: James Dittinger/SYFY)
Resident Alien brings Vancouver Island to the small screen with January premiere

Quirky series shot in Ladysmith will air every Wednesday on the CTV Sci-Fi Channel

Comox-based cinematographer Maxwel Hohn’s new documentary captures the lives of Vancouver Island’s coastal wolves. Photo courtesy Maxwel Hohn.
New mini-documentary shot on Vancouver Island echoes the ‘call of the coastal wolves’

Photography heavyweights from B.C. come together for Maxwel Hohn’s second wildlife documentary

The 2021 Victoria Film Festival includes Vancouver Island produced feature film All-in Madonna. The festival looks a bit different this year, but film-lovers can still expect a full and diverse lineup. (Courtesy of VFF)
Victoria Film Festival returns with virtual viewing

Lineup features 50 films including Vancouver Island-produced All-in Madonna

Jorie Benjamin does a modern dance performance to ‘La Vie en rose’ by Édith Piaf, Louis Gugliemi and Marguerite Monnot, choreographed by Elise Sampson during the Cowichan Music Festival’s Highlights Concert at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 1, 2020. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan Music Festival cancelled for 2021

The festival had already been limited to solo performances only for 2021

<em>Chinook Salmon: Breaking Through</em> by B.C.’s Mark Hobson was selected among 13 entries as the winner of the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s Salmon Stamp Competition.
Stained-glass lighting casts a win to B.C. salmon artist

Painting of chinook is Mark Hobson’s third win in annual contest

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”. The natural photo art for the album includes Vancouver Island mountains, rivers and beaches. Scenes from the Cowichan River, Witchcraft Lake, Pipers Lagoon, Wall Beach and other popular Island recreation destinations accentuate the album. (RICHIErichieRichie Music Publishing photo)
Serenity Now! Richie Valley debuts third LP dubbed Apollonian

Apollonian means “serene, calm, or well-balanced; poised & disciplined”

Victoria artist Noah Layne is conducting online workshops on portrait drawing as part of the Metchosin ArtPod’s About Face portrait show. (Photo courtesy of Noah Layne)
Metchosin Art Pod doing an about-face

Renowned artist Noah Layne hosting online classes in portrait drawing

This weekend Amy Pye is holding a virtual book launch for her latest children’s book, <em>Bruce the Silly Goose</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Victoria writer and illustrator pens children’s book about COVID-19 safety

Amy Pye to hold online book launch for ‘Bruce the Silly Goose’

The pantomime ‘Snow White and the 5 Dwarfs’ has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. (Submitted)
Pantomime cancelled in Cowichan due to COVID restrictions

A partnership of the Cowichan Musical Society, the Shawnigan Players, and the Mercury Players.

A rendering shows the entrance planned for the Hornby Island Arts Centre. Image supplied
Work on Hornby Island Arts Centre to start this month

Community worked with award-winning architectural firm on design

Western Edge Theatre artistic director Brian March and local theatre artists Brianna Hamilton and Daniel Puglas (from left) make up Western Edge’s new team of “artistic associates.” (News Bulletin file photos/Courtney Harder)
Nanaimo theatre company adds younger, diverse voices to artistic team

Western Edge hopes new ‘artistic associates’ will help form new ideas, reach new audiences

Most Read