(b. February 22, 1941 Vancouver, British Columbia)
Jack Darcus, a leading figure in the development of British Columbia’s independent film scene, earned a reputation as an intelligent and highly distinctive filmmaker with several small but daring films that challenged conventional modes of film fiction. Originally a painter, Darcus began directing while studying fine arts and philosophy at the University of British Columbia. His films – which serve more as personal statements than dramatic narratives – possess a dark, penetrating and often disturbing vision that reflects his iconoclastic concerns and deep-seated resistance of a mass media mentality. Though consistently well received by critics, his films have never reached a large audience beyond devoted cinéastes.
Of Darcus’s unique voice, critic John Hofsess, in his book Inner Views, remarked, "it is primarily the supernatural eeriness of his films that one remembers vividly; they have a distinctive look and feel, a sombre, almost sinister mood." Imbued with a refreshingly new cinematic energy, Darcus’s first two dramas garnered much attention. Great Coups of History (1968), the story of a mother living off lonely-hearts-club men, possesses an impressive fictional/documentary ambiguity. Proxyhawks (1970), a film that developed from Darcus’s long-standing interest in falconry, explores ideas of life, death and sentimentality through a couple’s relationship with each other and their animals. (Darcus often draws on animal imagery to characterize psychic tension in personal relationships.)
Wolfpen Principle (1974), his third film, is an eerie comedy-drama about a middle-aged man’s relationship with a Native man and a pack of wolves. Kingsgate (1988) explores the dangers and disillusionments of middle age, while Overnight (1985), a satire on the precarious nature of the Canadian film industry, tells the story of a struggling actor who works in porn films and is encouraged by a proud fellow performer’s immortal rallying cry: "We may be small, we may be dirty, but we’re Canadian!"
Though he continued to work with sporadic consistency throughout the past two decades, Darcus was at his peak in the late sixties and early seventies. He enjoyed something of a comeback in the early eighties with Deserters (1982), perhaps his most acclaimed work. Based on one of his earlier teleplays, it is a brilliant portrait of two deserters from the Vietnam War, their impact on the Canadians they meet and the conflict between Canadian and American values. The film earned Darcus three Genie Award nominations for his direction, screenplay and editing.
Still a dedicated painter, Darcus frequently exhibits his work and also designs the sets for many theatre productions.
Film and video work includes
Great Coups of History, 1968 (director; writer; editor; producer)
Proxyhawks, 1970 (director; writer; editor; producer; actor)
The Elsewhere War, 1975 (writer; TV)
The Deserter, 1976 (writer; TV)
Deserters, 1982 (director; writer; editor; producer)
Overnight, 1985 (director; writer; co-producer with John Board) aka Not Another Dirty Little Movie
Airwaves , Airwaves series, 1986 (co-director with Susan Martin, Janice Platt, G. Scott LaBarge, Otta Hanus, Steve DiMarco, F. Harvey Frost, Seaton McLean, Richard Flower)
Lunch Date, The Way We Are series, 1987 (director; TV)
Kingsgate, 1988 (director; writer; co-editor with Doris Dyck; co-producer with Tom Braidwood)
The Portrait, 1992 (director; writer; executive producer)
Silence, 1997 (director; producer; co-executive producer with Tom Braidwood)