British Columbia

DOXA film festival kicks off with film about stunt driving and classical music

The 2016 DOXA documentary film festival kicks off with a film about an album about a stuntman ... sort of.

Opening film Aim for the Roses tells story of stuntman Ken Carter ... sort of

CBC Vancouver News at 6 host Andrew Chang hosted the 15th annual DOXA Documentary Film Festival on May 5. (CBC)

John Bolton's documentary, Aim for the Roses, tells the story of the life of Canadian stunt driver Ken Carter.

Actually, it tells the story of the album of the life of Canadian stunt driver Ken Carter.

Hope that all makes sense.

His film is kicking off Vancouver's DOXA film festival Thursday night and explores the parallels of music-making and death-defying stunts.

"This album has monologues and singing, and it's kind of like an opera … I thought, this is something I could adapt," Bolton told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

"As I got to know more about the making of the album, it turns out [composer Mark Haney] spent as long trying to make his album and had to overcome as many setbacks as Ken did trying to get his stunt off the ground."

The stunt Bolton is referring to is Carter's repeated, unsuccessful late-'70s attempts to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental.


'High brow art and low-brow hoserdom'

Bolton says he was pulled into the story of Carter at an album release party thrown by Haney, who wrote an album called Aim for the Roses about Carter's life in 2010.

"I hadn't heard of Ken Carter before I heard Mark's album … this is a contemporary classical music album for solo double bass that is based on a musical representation of 499 digits of pi," Bolton said.

"So right from the beginning there's this incredible tension between this high-brow art and low-brow hoserdom and this balance between genuine beauty and pathos and genuine absurdity."

The film is not done in a traditional documentary style. There are stylized recreations and musical numbers in addition to more typical interviews and archival footage.

In telling the parallel stories of Ken Carter and Mark Haney, Bolton hopes viewers are inspired to reflect on the dreams they want to make come true.

"This is a celebration of attempts and intentions and dreams and passion and obsession," he said. "But I guess I also feel the film is a warning. I want people to make informed decisions on their dreams."

Aim for the Roses is screening Thursday, May 5, at 7 p.m. PT at the Vancouver Playhouse.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: High-brow art and 'low-brow hoserdom' celebrated in documentary