The Top 5 Movies Shot and Based on B.C.’s West Coast

To celebrate National Cinema Day we are counting down our top west coast films.

Golden Globe Awards, Via / Filmelier, Via

In celebration of National Cinema Day, we are listing our top five movies filmed and set on the west coast of B.C. 

In the province known as “Hollywood North” there is no shortage of blockbuster films that have been shot here. Some more famous examples include the Twilight series (where Nanaimo and Tofino stood in for Oregon), the Planet of the Apes sequels (shot around Campbell River and Ucluelet), 2014’s Godzilla (shot in Nanaimo and across the Lower Mainland) or Christopher Nolan’s 2002 psychological thriller Insomnia, (shot in Stewart and Port Alberni). 

For our purposes, however, we are celebrating the top west coast films that are actually set in B.C. Here are our top five picks for films where our beautiful coast plays itself:

  1. Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Movie buffs might say this is one of the best movies ever shot in B.C. In this 1970 film, Jack Nicholson was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of an angsty blue collar oil rig worker and prodigy pianist who returns home to confront his father. While we are cheating a bit–technically this takes place across the Pacific Northwest not just B.C.–we had to include this classic film shot across Vancouver Island, with some recognizable landmarks like the Mill Bay ferry, Beacon Hill and parts of Saanich.

  1. Edge of the Knife (2018)

The notable Canadian drama Edge of the Knife (Sgaawaay K’uuna) co-directed by Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown is the first ever feature film set solely in the Haida language. Telling a classic Haida story of Gaagiixiid (the wildman), it takes place in the 19th century. The film was shot with a primarily Indigenous crew and had its premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival.

  1. One Week (2008)

Dawson’s Creek Joshua Jackson gives a great performance as a man diagnosed with cancer who has one week to live. He decides to take off on a motorcycle trip from Toronto to B.C., a gorgeous journey across Canada where he ends up on the stunning beaches of Tofino and finds himself along the way.

  1. The New Beachcombers (2002)

There’s no way we couldn’t mention the pride of the Sunshine Coast, the hit TV show The Beachcombers which ran on CBC from 1972 to 1990. Fans got another visit to Gibsons in this follow-up movie made in 2002 that finds the community facing off against a developer who wants to tear down the iconic Molly’s Reach, made famous by the show. This TV movie has been made available free to watch on Youtube in the link above. 

  1. Kayak to Klemtu (2018)

This moving family story follows 14-year old Bella (starring multi-talented actor/singer Ta’Kaiya Blaney from Tla’Amin First Nation) as she decides to kayak the Inside Passage to protect her homeland waters, travelling from Tla’Amin to Klemtu. You’ll also likely recognize the Cree actor Lorne Cardinal who played Sergeant Davis on the hit TV CTV series Corner Gas.

So, do you agree with our list? Did we miss any favourite movies? Let us know in the comments!

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