A new documentary exploring the legacy — and infamy — of Vancouver Grizzlies centre Bryant “Big Country” Reeves will hit the big screen at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF).
Finding Big Country chronicles the efforts of Vancouver-based filmmaker and self-described Grizzlies “superfan” Kathleen ‘Kat’ Jayme to track down her idol and explore the short history of the team.
WATCH: Finding Big Country trailer
“We’re trying to find Big Country! Does anyone know where Big Country is?” Jayme, decked out in a Grizzlies jersey and waving a photo of the mountain-sized player, calls out as she walks down Kits Beach in a snippet from the trailer.
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Vancouver’s brief flirtation with the NBA began in 1995 and ended in 2001, when the franchise moved to Memphis. In its short run, the team set a record for the worst six-year span in NBA history with 101 wins and 359 losses.
Reeves, the team’s top pick (sixth overall) in the 1995 draft, was a lightning rod for controversy throughout his tenure.
The burly, seven-foot centre out of Oklahoma State was criticized as slow and for his declining point production as the seasons wore on.
He eventually retired early due to injuries, and his ultimate fate remains something of a mystery — though he did briefly reappear in 2017 when he was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
“Even though many reporters have tried, no one has seen or heard of him since the Grizzlies left town,” Jayme says in the trailer.
“What hurts the most is not all the losing, but that so many fans blamed Big Country.”
The 44-minute film includes interviews with former Grizzlies players and coaching staff, many of whom say they too have not heard from the player.
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It also depicts Jayme packing her way through the Vancouver airport, passing Oklahoma road signs, and driving down a misty rural road, suggesting she may get closer than others who have tried before.
Kathleen Jayme is a product of UBC’s film production program with a pair of award-winning short fiction films under her belt, and who has had a short documentary screened at the Cannes Short Film Corner.
VIFF announced selections from its upcoming lineup earlier this week.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: The team was originally called the Mounties, then changed to the Grizzlies.
Finding Big Country will screen as a part of the festival’s Sea to Sky Films showcase, which focuses on home-grown B.C. talent.
The festival calendar describes the documentary as a labour of love.
“Fuelled by nostalgia and punctuated by endearing revelations, this quest ultimately allows us to re-evaluate one of the city’s most maligned sports figures.”
Screening dates have not yet been announced.
— With files from Jon Azpiri