Canadian International Pictures

The Bitter Ash

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This Partner Label release is distributed through Vinegar Syndrome's sister company OCN Distribution. Vinegar Syndrome had no part in, nor are responsible for, the restoration, extras, quality control or any content(s) of this release. We hope you enjoy our growing roster of Partner Labels and the expertise and curation brought to each release by their dedicated staff!

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This special limited edition spot gloss slipcover is limited to 2,000 units and is only available on our website and at select indie retailers. Absolutely no major retailers will be stocking them.

From arthouse to Canuxploitation, Canadian International Pictures (CIP) is devoted to resurrecting vital, distinctive, and overlooked triumphs of Canadian cinema. This label is focused on the country’s original cinematic boom years – spanning the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s – occasionally venturing past that period (and the country’s borders) to highlight the films of Canada’s most inspired actors and filmmakers. Vinegar Syndrome’s sister company, OCN Distribution, is thrilled to be representing CIP's brand new line of home video releases!

"Larry Kent was a heroic figure for me... I loved him on the spot." – David Cronenberg

With a dead-end job and a potentially pregnant girlfriend jeopardizing his freedom, Des (Cathy’s Curse’s Alan Scarfe) spirals into bitterness, misanthropy, and fantasies of violent crime. While visiting a sick friend one afternoon, he crosses paths with the similarly jaded, even suicidal Laurie (Lynn Stewart), a young parent working as a waitress to provide for her child and struggling playwright husband (Philip Brown). Desperate to recapture a sense of vitality – and raise money for rent – this troubled couple invites Des and a group of local beatniks over for a hedonistic party that culminates in a series of shocking acts of violence and betrayal. 

Made for just $5,000, The Bitter Ash is the first feature from celebrated independent filmmaker Larry Kent, a cinematic trailblazer cited as a key influence by countrymates David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan. Playing like a Canadian answer to John Cassavetes’ Shadows, this first entry in Kent’s seminal Vancouver Trilogy (followed by Sweet Substitute and When Tomorrow Dies) also flirts with the frank sexuality and other provocations of ’60s exploitation cinema, which led to a series of censorship battles, dooming the film to decades of obscurity. CIP is thrilled to resurrect this groundbreaking classic with a new 4K restoration. 

directed by: Larry Kent
starring: Alan Scarfe, Lynn Stewart, Philip Brown, Diane Griffith, Lee Mackenzie, Larry Kent, Leo Burdak, Brian Belfont, Joceline Thompson, Douglas Reid, Barbara Dalquist, John Brighton, Sharon Bunce, Mitzi Hurd
1963 / 80 min / 1.37:1 / English DTS-HD MA 2.0

Additional info:

  • Region A Blu-ray
  • Newly scanned and restored in 4K from the original 16mm A/B negatives by Canadian International Pictures with sound transferred from the original 16mm magnetic final mix 
  • New audio commentary featuring filmmaker and historian Stephen Broomer
  • Archival audio commentary featuring director Larry Kent and film professor David Douglas
  • New introduction to The Bitter Ash by Kent
  • Vancouver Memories (2024, 11 min.) – New interview with Kent
  • From the Outside In (2024, 13 min.) – New interview with star Alan Scarfe
  • After Ash (2024, 13 min.) – Scarfe reflects on his body of work
  • An Authentic Beat Film (2024, 22 min.) – New interview with Douglas
  • Fantasia Q&A (2023, 30 min.) – Post-screening discussion featuring Kent, Scarfe, and Douglas
  • Hastings Street (2007, 20 min.) – Kent and Scarfe’s first film, shot in 1962 and completed 45 years later
  • New introduction to Hastings Street by Kent
  • Silent version of Hastings Street (2003, 26 min.)
  • Archival audio interview with Kent (1964, 18 min.)
  • Booklet featuring an essay by Brett Enemark
  • Reversible cover artwork
  • English SDH subtitles