This may seem odd, but I am recommending a film at the Vancouver International Film Festival about a 5,200 km road trip through Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
Filmmaker Matt McCormick discovered at a thrift store a scrapbook of photographs and ephemera documenting the travels of four women in the Northwestern United States in 1958. In The Great Northwest, McCormick retraces their route.
The film is a beautiful and fascinating exploration of how the places these women visited have and have not changed since 1958. At the Q&A session after the September 29th screening, McCormick spoke about the significance of the original journey being “one of the last great road trips” through these states prior to the construction of the Interstate Highway System.
I think every viewer will see something different in McCormick’s patient 70-minute film, but I found myself thinking about how the Interstate Highway System and a growing car culture changed North America. The film quietly reveals how town sites and landscapes were altered by the desire for a network of freeways, and also shows the decline of rail towns and train stations along portions of the route.
There are two more screenings at VIFF: Sunday, September 30 at 3:20 p.m. and Wednesday, October 10 at 3:30 p.m. Don’t miss it!