May 8 would have been Harry Rankin’s 98th birthday. I was reminded of this special date when I attended the premiere of The Rankin File: Legacy of a Radical at the Playhouse Theatre May 3 as part of the DOXA documentary film fest.
Harry Rankin — my hero and mentor — was an unforgettable individual. I had the great honour of working together with a number of individuals to help bring about the production of this documentary about him. Others involved included his son, Phil Rankin; grandson, Micah Rankin; and Julius Fisher, who helped produce it along with John Bolton.
Back in 1986, a fellow by the name of Peter Smilsky, who articled at a law office across the street from Harry’s, began putting together a film about him. He captured a lot of original footage, including some fascinating breakfast meetings between Harry and well-known journalist, Jack Webster. (These two Vancouver legends used to get together for breakfast once a week at 7 a.m. at a restaurant in the Downtown Eastside.)
Peter never did finish his film. Fast forward to 2015, when Julius Fisher and director Teresa Alfeld came on the scene to complete the project.
The premiere was sold out with not an empty seat in the house, and the audience seemed to really appreciate the entire documentary.
Today, because of demand, there’s a third repeat showing of the film at SFU Woodwards (149 West Hastings). If you miss it, next time the film is shown in Vancouver, I urge you to attend. I guarantee you’ll greatly enjoy it — especially because Harry’s message about development and how important it is for municipal governments to take control of zoning to ensure we can all live together is now more important than ever.