Guest Blog | Jenna Kirouac: Magical Realism in Vancouver and the Salazar Film Collective

Guest Blogger Jenna Kirouac is Avant-Guardian Musings Vancouver Arts Correspondent. To see her previous posts, please click here.

I don’t even remember how I first came across the Salazar Film Collective and their work, but I do remember how impressed I was with the content of the videos, the creative representations of media, and the overall quality of the cinematography.  What’s even better is that the group is based out of Vancouver and much of their work is done right here.

I have posted some of the videos to share with you all and so you can see for yourself (click on each image to link to full video on Vimeo browser).

Salazar Demo Reel 2010
Salazar for Lifetime Collective Clothing Spring/Summer 2011
What do you think of them? Yes I realize that a lot of Salazar’s works are essentially constructed as commercials. The important questions to ask however are:

  • What kind of visual worlds do the films construct? (i.e.-what sort of messages do they project?)

  • Are the films purely entertaining or do they have any other meanings ascribed to them?

Salazar does a great job of twisting plot within their videos, leaving the viewer thinking about the mysterious endings long after the story is over. My personal favorite is the recent video Salazar produced for the Vancouver based D.J. Babe Rainbow and the title track from his latest album Shaved. The dark mood of the title song is really captured well in the video. Also the imagery evokes a bit of Canadiana without being overt or obnoxious unlike many of the Canadian symbols of identity we are so used to.

Salazar for Babe Rainbow Shaved (2010)
Salazar Film Collective’s website doesn’t give away too much. There isn’t a lengthy manifesto or vision statement, but their page does offer this explanation of their craft:

“Salazar is a small band of directors collaborating to create unique and progressive films. Strongly influenced by distinctive environments and inspired by magical realism we combine visually stunning locations with quietly emotional content.”

Wait. Stop. Let’s take a second and review what magical realism is. No, don’t wiki it. I have saved you the trouble and looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary online. Magical Realism is “any artistic style in which realistic techniques such as naturalistic detail, narrative, etc., are similarly combined with surreal or dreamlike elements.” To be sure, there is an element of mystery and of the supernatural in Salazar’s work that seems quite fitting to this genre. Through the mundane, ordinary images and objects are given an almost supernatural representation, and Salazar presents the viewer with a new reality (and a new perception of Vancouver).  A good way to think about magical realism is summed up by film historian Gary McMahon in a recent article on the topic in Film International, “The lateral thinking of magical realism expands our perceptions of what on earth reality is about.”