NANAIMO — After immigrating to Nanaimo from England as a child, Grant Baldwin found himself enamoured with Vancouver Island's snow-blanketed mountain ranges. Channeling that love into his latest project is now landing the filmmaker international attention.
After premiering in Toronto last spring, Baldwin's documentary This Mountain Life appeared at several notable film festivals around the world, collecting multiple awards along the way.
Now the film is getting perhaps its highest accolades, making the incredibly rare jump from festival runs into theatres across Canada and the world.
"As an indie, let alone documentary, filmmaker you just assume you won't get into theatres," Baldwin told NanaimoNewsNOW.
This Mountain Life will appear in Cineplex theatres from coast-to-coast on Feb. 4. Some locations will have one or two week runs, while others, like Nanaimo, added multiple showings on Feb. 4 in the face of strong demand for tickets.
There will also be theatre appearances in Germany, New Zealand and Australia.
"You get into film festivals and you know it's a pretty big deal, but your friends don't really understand that world. But as soon as you get in a movie theatre beside the Avengers, all of a sudden they pay attention. They're telling me 'oh, it is a real movie.'"
Baldwin's film focuses on a mother-daughter duo from Invermere as they spend six months ski-traversing B.C.'s coastal mountain range, travelling from Squamish to Alaska. The movie's promo material said the trek has only been made once before in recorded history and never by an all-female team.
Baldwin, the director and cinematographer, joined the women in the field for several specific trips to capture beginning, middle and end shots.
Despite experiences shooting outdoors for the BBC's Planet Earth series, Baldwin said being in Canada's alpine during winter was a challenging experience.
"It's very hard to keep equipment working. We had cameras die on us. We travelled in just a team of two so we could be light and keep up with them."
The 41-year-old graduate of Woodlands Secondary said he likely wouldn't be doing any of the work he is now if it wasn't for his formative years in Nanaimo.
"Growing up on the island I was able to experience the incredible backyard we have. It's a big part of me and I wanted to make a film that reflects how the outdoors makes me feel."
Baldwin will attend the screenings at Nanaimo's Galaxy Cinemas and hold live question and answer sessions with the audience after both showings.
"I'm sure my mom has filled half the first theatre with her friends," he said laughing. "It will be really cool to come home and have a reunion of sorts."
He hoped the breakthrough of This Mountain Life would help open the door for other indie films in the future. The movie will also appear on the Knowledge Network in late March.
"For the cinemas to realize that people are interested about coming to see movies about real people and there's a lot of good stuff that doesn't get its opportunity in the theatre."
You can find ticket information about the Nanaimo screening here.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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