The City of Nelson, British Columbia (population 10,000) has been a mountain town refuge for free spirits looking to create a funky utopia for generations. As the civic election heats up, the bohemian bubble bursts when one man murders another on the main street over a panhandling spot. This prompts Bubbles the Clown to run for Mayor as she stumps for the marginalized citizens of Nelson. All the while, the former three-term conservative Mayor seeks to reclaim the mayor’s chair from the incumbent who is known for her progressive social platform. We follow a colourful group of candidates along the campaign trail as they seek to win the votes of the hyper-engaged citizens whose town is in crisis over how to move forward amidst the wave of global populism encroaching on their counter-culture haven.
Watershed Productions’ first film about Nelson and the Kootenays, ‘Dreamers and Dissidents’, also commissioned by Knowledge Network, was about why people moved here. ‘Only in Nelson’ explores how people live here. The municipal election was happening the same year we were set to film. The campaign, the candidates and the citizenship provided an obvious framework to drive the narrative. That said, the original pitch was born out of a curiosity to explore the variety of people who live here and how a place of this size can have so many subcultures. ‘Only in Nelson’ is one version of Nelson, a document of the city at a particular time. ‘Only in Nelson’ is our love letter to Nelson. It’s also our warning bell.