What happens when you take a local auteur and throw in a talented collection of Canadian musicians, a familiar bit of scenery, and a little taxidermy for good measure?
A beautifully told story detailing the trials and tribulations associated with living in small town Alberta.
Which we highly recommend you do.
If you haven’t heard about this indie film, we’re giving you a few good reasons why you need to go.
The Alberta Condition
It’s quite commonplace for Calgary and area to serve as a backdrop for films and TV series. This year alone, the city will double as North Dakota for the hit show Fargo, while Kananaskis will represent the American Frontier in both Hell on Wheels’ Season 5 and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Revenant, due out later this year.
Despite being familiar with filming crews, it’s rare to actually find a film that tells a story that’s focused on Alberta. Yes, there’s Fubar, but the Valley Below is something quite different.
Following four stories that are broken down into their own chapters we get to witness what unfolds in four different relationships over the course of a year. Ranging from young love to marriages on the brink, every new chapter presents a unique storyline.
And from topics that stay true to rural life in Alberta, there’s more than your fair share of small town drama including teenage pregnancy, boozing Zamboni drivers and their tortured genius, and the kinky side of small town law authority.
We have to mention the scenery.
Shot in and around the town of Drum Heller, you’ll instantly feel at home with the scenes showcasing the arid landscape of hoodoos, the river valleys, and the prairie sunsets that remind you of road trips to the Royal Tyrell dinosaur museum.
When we asked Thomas about his decision to shoot in the Badlands he explained:
“There’s so much there; with the history of the valley, the dinosaurs, the ghost towns and the sedimentary rock, there are so many elements that inspire me. I was drawn to it naturally.”
Beyond first rate story telling, a great deal of care has gone into the soundtrack. With a new artist curating each chapter of the film, audiences will be treated to a range of music from Canadian musicians like Rae Spoon, Dan Mangan, Eamon McGrath, and Gavin Gardiner of The Wooden Sky.
It’s almost like a Sled Island warm up party.
Support The Arts
There’s no sugar coating it; being an independent filmmaker is no easy accomplishment, especially in this province.
Thomas, who’s a major advocate for the Calgary film scene, is hopeful that one day soon, aspiring filmmakers will have more options when it comes to film education in the province.
But despite this current setback, Thomas and his colleagues at North Country Cinema are busy paving the way for future auteurs, and in the process picking up notable mentions and accolades along the way.
With a successful festival run, 2 Canadian Screen Award nominations and favourable critic reviews, the future of local film is looking brighter.
Now what you are waiting for?
Go see this film.