VIFF Review: Finding Big Country Searches for a Missing Part of Vancouver

Director Kat Jayme’s Grizzly hunt yields results.

October 2, 2018

By Nathan Caddell / Photo: VIFF

“Yeah, does she find him though?”

That question could be heard many times in the winding lineup for the sold-out worldwide premiere of Finding Big Country at the Vancouver Film Festival (VIFF).

And while it was always going to be impossible for the actual film to live up to the herculean efforts of the marketing campaign that swallowed up the city, Vancouver director Kat Jayme’s film (SPOILER) does deliver on the above question.

Vancouver Grizzlies fan Jayme built her fourth effort around the now-defunct team’s first-ever draft pick, Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. Reeves hadn’t been heard from much since leaving the NBA in 2001 and so Jayme hopped on a plane to his hometown of Gans, Oklahoma, to find him.

Whether or not that was enough to build a film around is another question entirely. The best moments of the film are unquestionably those in which Jayme and Reeves interact, including a trip around his house and a battle on the court.

But there are definitely some filler scenes—even with a slight 45-minute running time—both before and after the search for Reeves. And the film runs self-indulgent at times, with tales of Jayme’s high school basketball glory and a couple interviews that start strong but drag on unnecessarily.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the end result of a generally charming film. Yes, she finds him. But more importantly, she’s able to provide Vancouver with some hard evidence of a largely forgotten team, and the passions that squad was able to generate in many fans.

In some ways, the marketing efforts that ramped up to the film’s premiere were just as important as the film itself, as they proved what Jayme’s trying to say throughout most of the movie: the Grizzlies were important to many Vancouverites and don’t deserve to be forgotten in the annals of history.

That’s the reason the film generated a standing ovation at a premiere absolutely overflowing with the Grizzlies’ trademark teal. And the reason the festival added a third screening after the first two sold out. Tickets to the additional one didn’t last long either.

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