Curtis Emde didn’t envision filmmaking as a viable career while growing up in Vernon.
But he was already working toward that path in his youth.
“Some friends and I recreated The Catcher in the Rye as a short film that is set in, well, Vernon. I mean, the novel is set in New York City, so we thought it could have just as easily been Vernon,” said Emde.
Part of the early short film, which Emde still has a copy of on VHS, takes place at the Vernon Museum, which is where his latest documentary will premiere.
Why We Write: Poets of Vernon is a documentary made with co-producers Hannah Calder and Silmara Emde.
Calder grew up in England and immigrated to Vernon as a teenager. Now the author of two novels and a professor of English and Creative Writing at Okanagan College, this is her first foray into filmmaking.
Silmara Emde grew up in Brazil and immigrated to Canada 10 years ago. She was first based in Vancouver before moving to Vernon with her husband, Curtis, and their son during the pandemic.
She and Curtis were the filmmakers behind the documentary Out of the Interior: Survival of Small Town Cinema in British Columbia.
Curtis’ artistic and teaching career took him around the world, including nearly a decade spent teaching in Europe and Japan.
He has now returned to Vernon where he is a settlement support worker and English language instructor at Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society.
Why We Write not only profiles poets and bookmakers of various ages, cultures and profiles around the North Okanagan, it also explores what it is like to be an artist creating work on the periphery of large urban centres.
“We wanted to look at how place, specifically, plays a role in the lives of writers and artists in this area,” says Calder. “So many of us are immigrants to this place – all of us except the Syilx people – and how does that play a role in our work?”
Why We Write explores the lives of artists and those who assemble words despite declining readership and the noise of the digital age. As it does, it unearths a thriving writing community made up of those born in Vernon, those who have chosen to move here, and the Syilx storytellers who have long been on this land.
Why We Write premieres at the Vernon Museum April 29, with a matinee and a second evening showing on April 30.
Seating is limited for each showing.
Tickets can be purchased in advance by clicking here.