The back jacket blurb for Shooting From The East, NSCAD Associate Professor’s Darrell Varga’s new book on East Coast motion picture making, states that “until now, there has been no comprehensive history of this diverse body of work.” Unfortunately, despite Varga’s claim otherwise, this is not the book that provides that study.
His dismissal of the Glace Bay-born director Daniel Petrie is particularly unfortunate. Petrie returned to Nova Scotia to make three features. One of them, The Bay Boy, is the only example of a successful Canadian filmmaker who went to Hollywood and then came home to make a film about his origins. None of Petrie’s contemporaries – Norman Jewison or Arthur Hiller, for example – ever did so. Further, Varga states that the Atlantic Filmmaker’s Co-op and the Atlantic Studio of the National Film Board were created in 1973 after a paucity of film activity on the East Coast – ignoring the fact that in the previous year Petrie shot The Neptune Factor in Halifax, in the process providing some of the impetus for the creation of both organizations.
For the various interviews found in the book, one must grant Varga at least a little credit. As for the rest of Shooting From the East, however, it rates as a fundamentally flawed misfire, and a real lost opportunity. Filmmakers who got profiled might want to request a copy for their own archives, but everyone else will probably want to give it a pass.Read more