Tag Archives: Patricia Sims

[VFF ’16] To Boldly Go Where No Elephant Has Gone Before, An Interview with Patricia Sims

7 Feb

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Playing at the
Victoria Film Festival on

Feb 08, 7:00pm
Star Cinema
9842 Third St
Sidney, BC
Feb 10, 6:30pm 
Cineplex Odeon
Victoria Cinemas

780 Yates St
Victoria, BC


Filmmaker and environmentalist Patricia Sims always knew she wanted William Shatner as the master storyteller in her two documentaries examining the Asian elephants plight. He’s more than just Captain Kirk of a highly loved science fiction franchise; he is an advocate for animal rights and he provides the narration in Return to the Forest (2013) and When Elephants Were Young (2015). The former is freely available online and the latter is getting a hometown premiere in Victoria, BC at the 2016 Victoria Film Festival. Plans for a wider theatrical release is coming and It’s most likely going to take place close to, if not on World Elephant Day on August 12th in 2016. A streaming and video release will no doubt follow, but when will mean either waiting patiently like this creature or time travelling to the future to see the product.

She started making wildlife films in the 90’s, starting with examining the impact hunting whales and dolphins for its meat (or sale to marine parks) are having in a cultural level. Her examination also includes looking at the scientific studies made of these mammals. They are sentient creatures with cognitive abilities. Fortunately, the practice of using them as a resource is slowly being put to the past, and thankfully, present-day attitudes wants to see the species survive.

“In the 90s, there was a cultural awakening predominantly among the younger generation about what shouldn’t be done. Animals of all kinds are very intelligent and [their survival is] important for the health of the environment,” remembered Sims.

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[VFF ’16] When Elephants Were Young, Their Role in Asian Societies, A Review

6 Feb

When Elephants Were Young. 

Available to view on Vudu (Updated Sept 2022)

One night in modern Bangkok will not make any member of the native Thai tribes heralding their mammoth pet around the streets humble after watching When Elephants Were Young. This documentary is made by local filmmakers Patricia Sims and Michael Clark, and narrated by William Shatner. It is excellent at showing how these creatures should be treated with respect instead of used. This gentle beast is revered, but sadly the old traditions are seen without truly understanding where the native culture of keeping them “as pets” was once okay. Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are a-Changin’” is one way to sum up the how the film moves and this film nicely reveals where attitudes are headed.

World Elephant Day (August 12, 2016) is championing preventing the Asian elephant from going extinct. Large steps are being made by the government to see the animal get saved. Ever since they got domesticated for warfare during Ancient Greek times, if not used in jungle warfare in India, their relationship with man has been an uneasy one. Are they working animals, creatures to be paraded around in zoos, or what? This film looks at their roles in human society today, focusing specifically in the relationship Wok, a mahout (elephant guardian), has with Nong Mai, an elephant he’s taken care of for at least a decade. He’s part of the Kui tribe and they have to adapt to modern times.

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2016 Victoria Film Festival Day One Gala Summary & My Internship in Canada Review

6 Feb


The 2016 Victoria Film Festival (VFF) started off with a great bang with the screening of My Internship in Canada, a very funny political satire by Phillippe Falardeau (Congorama). This movie explores how democracy should really work instead of who can sway prevailing opinion.

In one microcosm of rural Quebec about MP Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard) trying to solve a local problem between miners and an Algonquin tribe over land use (it could have easily escalated to a fight) to the macrocosm of Canadian politics he is involved with — he holds the swinging vote to whether Canada (led by a Stephan Harper type of character) goes to war — just where he stands is beautifully examined by an idealistic Haitian, Souverain (Irdens Exantus). This young man arrives at Guibord’s office seeking work in the political arena. Souverain needs to earn his chops, and his observations to his family back home certainly tickles the funny bone. The chemistry these two leads share makes for great contrasts. And just how this movie handles the Cornelian dilemma in this film’s plot is cute. Exantus is a talent to keep track of and I think he carries the same kind of charm Eddie Murphy channeled in the 80’s. There’s a genius lurking in this talent just waiting to bust out.

CTV Arts Reporter Adam Sawatsky introduced this film and Exantus, who was present for this screening. Kathy Kay, festival chief, welcomed film enthusiasts who came down for this movie and party. In a blustery evening packed with many events around town (including a broader movie festival at Cineplex theatres and a Jim Brynes concert up in Sidney), competition is getting tough. The VFF is a fixture for cinema buffs to enjoy and I was here instead of anywhere else!

The night continued strong with a Gala party at a rented space off Government street. Filmmakers, performers and attendees of the festival mingled. Present at this event is Canada AM / CTV film critic Richard Crouse. He will be hosting VFF’s In Conversation series this weekend starting at 11am for early risers. This year, he’ll be interviewing Semi Chellas (Mad Men) and Larry Weinstein (Mozartballs, Beethoven’s Hair). Both will be talking about their careers and their present work. Weinstein will be introducing a work in progress, The Devil’s Horn, this year!  For a preview, I recommend checking out the interview I conducted for Vivascene here.

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