In California Company Town director Lee Anne Schmitt films dozens of abandoned settlements, mostly old timber towns, military bases and factories. Schmitt is a professor at CalArts and this academic art background is apparent in the film, which is both poetic and thoughtful in its hypnotic survey of emptied landscapes. After the film Schmitt explained that although she spoke to many people around these ghost towns (she spent a number of years doing the filming and returned to some towns again and again) she chose not to include many people, instead focussing on what they left behind. It’s amazing how fast these towns came and went — running through local timber suplies or replacing working through mechanization - but even decades later, houses, furniture, schools, photographs and piles of paper still remain. California Company Town reminded me of some sections of Where I Was From, Joan Didion’s memoir and thoughts about California — the book and film are good companions pieces.
The film festival drew to a close on Friday night but the VanCity Theatre is still showing a few of the most popular films - Monday is the last night.