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A Film By Carolyn Combs


A neorealist film set at the intersection of Canada’s diverse cultures, Bella Ciao! is a heartfelt and compassionate story about displacement, isolation, and home. Lyrically shot and calmly paced, the story hinges on Constanza (Carmen Aguirre), a Chilean refugee and activist whose daily life is tested by health concerns her daughter would rather not face. But that’s just one thread among an Altmanesque carnival of characters – hustlers, restauranteurs, and coffee house consiglieri ­– who play unexpected and surprising roles as a tradition of resistance passes from one generation to the next.


Carolyn Combs roots her work in a study of character, telling her stories with lyricism and a restrained use of precise musical motifs. Bella Ciao! is set in her own neighbourhood, Vancouver East,  known for its social diversity and community solidarity. Her first feature, Acts of Imagination (2006), also set in the ‘hood, premiered at Toronto International Film Festival and had its Asian Premiere at Busan International Film Festival. Her short film, Small Currents (2010), has become a classic, and is repeatedly shown on Canadian television.

Carolyn in discussion with the audience, Vancity Theatre, April 10, 2019

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