A Nerd’s Guide to the 2023 Vancouver Fringe Festival

With a lot more shows being presented at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival, making a top ten list on what to see has been a bit more difficult, but we got a list.

Vancouver Fringe Festival
Runs Sept 7 to 17th, 2023 Various Venues across Vancouver, BC (prominently on Granville Island)

Anyone living in the Pacific Northwest region has a double dose of Fringe should they choose to follow those travelling acts! The Vancouver Fringe Festival has a lot more to offer, and as for what I like to see, perhaps a weekend trip is in order. I’m always tempted to, but alas the budget sets me back. To alleviate this problem, there’s a few online shows being offered!

And what I’ll do is select new shows to check out rather than to repeat what I’ve seen from the Victoria Fringe Festival. Presented in no particular order are:

Warhol- Bullet KarmaWarhol: Bullet Karma

Garry Roost
(Available to view online)

A darkly witty take on American pop art godfather Andy Warhol, with guest appearances from iconic figures such as Lou Reed, Capote, Edie Sedgwick and a visiting Francis Bacon. See what they all have to say about him and what HE says about them!

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[Victoria Fringe 2023] Even “June Bug” Needs to Grow Up

June Bug is a thoughtful work that ups the ante in what The Peanuts comic strips would do when concerning the kids dealing with adult situations.

June Bug Ragamuffin ProductionsAshley Chodat is a playwright who wants to help empower audiences. Although she went from performer to educator in the performing arts quite fast, anything she produces is worth noting. Her show, simply titled, “June Bug,” may seem like a love letter to alien conspiracies and X-Files, but there’s more to this multi-layered story.

Here, Juniper Myers is telling us about her life. She’s 11 years old, and she dearly loves her grandmother. The two are inseparable. Mom is trying her best to keep this family afloat because there’s no father around. Little is said about him and I suspect he doesn’t exist. But as for grandmama, I brought everything we wanted to know about her to vivid life. They both love Patrick Swayze and watching the movie Dirty Dancing, and despite protests from mum, nothing ever changes.

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Mami Wata at Fantasia 2023. It’s All About Absolute Faith.

Students of folklore and the humanities will adore Mami Wata, a goddess whom not everyone is aware of.

Playing July 20 and 21st at Fantasia Film Festival 2023
For tickets, please visit this link.

Beliefs in the goddess Mami Wata stretch from Senegal to as far as Zambia and in what C.J. “Fiery” Obasi’s crafts in his movie about her is not only mesmerising but also modern. She’s more than just another mermaid / patron deity to those cities that still venerate her to this day. Her ability to cure ailments isn’t the only reason. The enormous snake that accompanies her is a symbol of her divine authority.

In the isolated village of Iyi, what the people are facing is multifold. Mama Efe (Rita Edochie)’s role as ruler is challenged. That’s because some people are dying from an unknown disease, and she can’t cure this ailment. One child has crossed over already. While some want her to step down, others are asking if their goddess has forsaken them.

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Are We All Born to Fly? Yu Lei is Ready to Soar Higher than Never Before!

No trade secrets are given away, otherwise Born to Fly would not be screening in international markets.

Born to Fly Well GO USA PosterWell GO USA
For screenings, please check the official website.

After much delay, Liu Xiaoshi’s Born to Fly (長空之王) is tailor-made for release during China’s holiday weekend. International Workers’ Day (May 1st) recognises the contributions of everyone who helps make their country great. Here, the various teams within the Chinese Air Force need to work hard together–and have an ace up their sleeves–if they are to maintain their air superiority. And Yu Lei (Wibo Yang) is it. He gets called to duty to be a test pilot, and it’s up to Ting Zhang (Hu Jun) to motivate him to keep going.

Despite countless delays to get this film to screen, what’s presented looks gorgeous. The camera work sells some of the aerial sequences and the CGI handles the rest. Despite former trepidation by critics and their desire to compare this work to Top Gun and its sequel, what’s been improved upon may well stretch beyond improving the SPFX. Some story edits may have been done. As for the former, I’m sure not even Tom Cruise would be willing to risk his life just to go into low-earth orbit. And what’s more celebrated is how the team stays together.

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Donnie Yen. Demi-God or Something else? Sakra (The Legend of Qiao Feng)

Overall, Sakra moves like a Chinese opera, and you really have to pay attention to everything that’s going on to make sense of it all.

Sakra Movie Poster Starring Donnie YenWell GO USA
Coming to Select Theaters April 14

and Streaming online April 18

Donnie Yen‘s Sakra (or The Legend of Qiao Feng; 天龙八部之乔峰传) begins like a Western, the set-up reveals a Feudal Chinese world up in arms. It frequently asks, “Am I a bad person?”

Life in the frontier depends on Qiao Feng (Yen) to keep the peace. But when he’s accused of murdering his adoptive parents and some monks, the community wants retribution and instead of dispensing cowboy justice by hanging him, he voluntarily accepts being exiles, and for the remainder of the film, tries to get to the bottom of this conspiracy.

This adaptation of Jin Yong’s serialised fiction, Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, is different. At first, I thought there’d be the divine getting involved in mortal affairs, but what’s presented is a fictionalised world that’s almost akin to George Stevens’ Shane. Here, the tale concerns matters of loyalty and righteousness, but unless viewers know what saṃsāra means, what this film is about might feel confusing.

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