Two films with local connections — one a documentary partially filmed in Ashcroft, the other a “ripped from the headlines” comedy that was entirely filmed in and around Kamloops — will be featured as part of the Kamloops Film Festival starting on March 2.
Outrunners, a pandemic-set comedy, was entirely shot in Kamloops in September 2020. The movie tells the story of bickering reality TV stars Emily and Todd, who have just three hours to deliver life-saving medicine to Emily’s mom. As they run through the streets, they must dodge vicious snipers and camera drones piloted by the reality TV showrunner Bronson, all while being cheered on by millions of reality TV superfans who are secretly watching Bronson’s live stream of Emily’s struggles.
Outrunners was the first film since Power Rangers (2017) to close off downtown Kamloops streets for filming, and Hegan says it is definitely the first Canadian film ever to put snipers on a hotel roof and have them firing down into a crowd of protesters. As part of a crowdfunding campaign pitch video to raise $25,000 for music, audio, and visual effects, the moviemakers invited people to pay to have their screams recorded for use in the film.
“I want to hear your screams in our movie,” said Hegan in 2021. “It’s your scream come true!”
The world premiere of the film is at 6:30 p.m. as part of the KFF’s opening night gala on March 2, and will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Pre-COVID, Hegan was the Vancouver Library’s Screenwriter in Residence, and in fall 2021 became the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library’s first Screenwriter in Residence. When the pandemic struck, Hegan — a Norkam grad who hails from Brocklehurst — moved back to Kamloops, where he wrote the Outrunners script, turning the wildest news stories into a race to save a mother’s life.
On Thursday, March 9 the documentary Finding Fred Lee will be screened. The award-winning film tells the story of Kamloops native Frederick Lee, a private with the Rocky Mountain Rangers who went off to fight in 1916 and was presumed killed at the Battle of Hill 70 in France in August 1917. The battle saw many casualties, due to the extensive use of poison gas, including the new German Yellow Cross shell containing the blistering agent sulphur mustard (mustard gas).
Former Ashcroft Museum curator Kathy Paulos says that the film’s writer/director, Jack Gin, visited the museum to do research on the Lee family, as one of Fred’s brothers married an Ashcroft resident, Jessie Hing.
“He came with one of Fred’s nephews and was hoping to find relatives and perhaps do a DNA match,” says Paulos. “And he was looking for any information we had on the family, so I showed them what we had.”
Some of the scenes in the documentary were filmed in the Ashcroft Museum. Paulos, who had an opportunity to watch the film online, says that Fred’s body was never found.
“It’s a very emotional story, very moving.”
Finding Fred Lee — a journey of discovery that retraces the paths taken by Fred and that of his father, who arrived in the 1860s — was submitted for screening at the Los Angeles IndieX Film Festival for independent filmmakers, and was recently awarded the “Outstanding Achievement Award” in the Documentary Shorts category.
“We made this film to present Fred Lee to Canadians, and it’s a joy to know that Americans love the story as well,” says Jack Gin. “Fred Lee belongs to all of us. He is a representative of all the great-uncles and great-grandfathers who sacrificed for our country.”
Finding Fred Lee will be shown as part of the Kamloops Film Festival at 6 p.m. on March 9. A presentation from the Rocky Mountain Rangers will precede the film starting at 5:30 p.m., and a Q&A with filmmaker Jack Gin will follow at 6:30 p.m.
For more information about the Kamloops Film Festival, go to www.thekfs.ca.
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