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New VIFF Series Celebrates a Vancouver Architecture Legend on the Big Screen

Photo credit: Erickson Family Collection.

This year is the centennial celebration of the birth of Vancouver-born architect, Arthur Erickson. Time to brush up on your architecture history! One fun way you can do that is by sitting in on the VIFF Centre’s new Erickson on Film series, in honour of the local legend, who died in 2009.

Guest-curated by author, critic and historian, Trevor Boddy (also a Fellow of the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada), each of the series’ three programs include a film screening featuring the architect’s work and a talk led by Boddy. Various guest speaker participants include original film crew members, the architect’s former associates and nephew, and filmmaker Michele Smolkin. Smolkin is also responsible for the 2002 documentary about Erickson, Concrete Poetry, remarkably screening in a Vancouver theatre for the first time in English on June 16th – more info below. (Smolkin’s film also gets extra screen time as part of a double-bill with the 2023 documentary, Arthur Erickson’s Dyde House, various times on June 17th, 18th and 20th.) Overall, the series aims to “chart the Vancouver architect’s life and creative works — as seen by both documentarians and Hollywood directors, offering a glimpse at how his ideas and passions have transformed the city.”

Here’s a rundown of the full Erickson on Film calendar:

Still from Intersection, courtesy of VIFF Centre.

Intersecting Lives: Talk + Intersection Screening | Friday, June 14th @ 7pm

Things kick off on Erickson’s birthday with a talk about his education, WWII experience, and the significance of his early houses; as well as a discussion with Christine Haebler and Nick Milkovich. Both speakers held significant roles in the making of Mark Rydell’s slick and stylish 1993 feature film, Intersection, starring Richard Gere and Sharon Stone, with sets inspired by some of Erickson’s most significant designs. Plus: birthday cake, natch! DETAILS.

Photo Credit: Erickson Family Collection.

Documenting the Designer: Talk + Concrete Poetry Screening | Sunday, June 16th @ 3pm

Get to know more about Erickson’s rise to fame as a cutting-edge designer and intellectual figure – including some scandalous details – via various clips of his buildings, and interviews with Erickson himself as well as some of his fans. Panelists for this program are former Erickson associate, Wyn Bieleska, and filmmaker, Michele Smolkin. Concrete Poetry was filmed in the years leading up to Erickson’s dementia, 2001-2002. DETAILS.

Still from The Groundstar Conspiracy, courtesy of VIFF Centre.

The Smell of Wet Concrete: Talk + The Groundstar Conspiracy Screening | Tuesday, June 18th @ 8pm

This program is all about Erickson’s relationship with concrete, and includes a discussion with his very own nephew, Geoffrey Erickson, and architect Bruno Freschi. It’s followed by a screening of the 1972 Lamont Johnson film, The Groundstar Conspiracy, in which the original Erickson-designed SFU campus plays a prominent role. DETAILS.

Curious to learn more about the correlation between film and our city’s most famous figure in architecture? Get your answers by attending as many Erickson on Film programs as you can finagle. Tickets for each event are $18. Sort yourself out here.

Neighbourhood: Yaletown
1181 Seymour St.
Box Office Helpline: 604-683-3456 (Mon-Fri, 12-5pm)

Head to East Van for Some Community-Minded DIY Fun and Discussion, June 9th

For one-evening only, the James Black Gallery is hosting Vancouver-based art/community collective, Anartchists, for a punk-as-f*uck zine-making workshop in support of Palestine. You should definitely go!

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