The 27th Vancouver International Film Festival (September 25-October 10) promises a marvellous collage of genres, styles, cultures, formats, fun, frivolity and hard-hitting documentaries that will provide much more than just food for thought.
With five-dozen countries providing the 332 films to be shown at four venues over the generous 16-day period, how can anyone choose what to see—especially since so many will be having their international or North American débuts? To assist the process, here’s an A-Z guide of some promising titles.
Adoration: Fans of Atom Egoyan will savour his timely look at the perils of rumour mongering on the Internet.
Blindness: VIFF’s opening gala selection is another thriller directed by Fernando Meirelles (The Constant Gardener). With the novel by José Saramago and Don McKellar penning the screenplay, it’s an excellent choice for liftoff.
Captain Abu Raed: A case of mistaken identity is at the centre of this Jordan/U.S. co-production from newly minted indie director Amin Matalqa.
Delta: From Hungary comes VIFF favourite (Pleasant Days) Kornel Mundruczo with a personal tale of two siblings struggling to reclaim their lives surrounded by intolerant neighbours. Couldn’t happen here.
Erik Nietzsche: The Early Years: Denmark/Sweden have opted to let director/co-writer (with Lars von Trier) dig deep into the formative years of a nasty filmmaker; like the famed, occasionally demented philosopher, there’s much ego involved.
FlicKer: Those determined to leave the planet while still on it will enjoy Brion Gysin’s art-fuelled dream machine that induces hallucinations.
German + Rain: One of the seven nominees the Dragons and Tigers Competition for Young Asian Cinema will be the international première of Japanese filmmaker Yokohama Satoko’s study of a rebellious teen.
Heaven’s Heart: The unfaithful amongst us will want to pull up a chair to Simon Staho’s (Sweden) dinner party, rife with adulterous conversation whose ramifications linger far beyond dessert.
I Am Good: From the Czech Republic Jan Hrebejk offers his take on card sharks that prey on the gullible. Deal me in!
Jay: Crime of a different sort comes under the scrutiny of Francis Pasion’s (Philippines) lens as a mother flips on the TV only to suddenly realize that her son was (a) murdered (b) queer. It’s reality TV unplugged.
Knitting: A comedy from China directed by Yin Lichuan explores a love-triangle fuelled by jealously and stoked by poverty. Should we stick to our knitting?
Lucky 7: Another Dragons and Tigers contender is Sun Koh’s (Singapore) compilation of the very best moments from six of her colleagues’ turn playing the game of “exquisite corpse.” Deadly fun all around!
Mock Up on Mu: Futurists and science fiction buffs will savour Craig Baldwin’s (United States) ultra-creative take about life on earth and MU (formerly known as Moon) in 2019.
Naked of Defences: Trapped in a mind-numbing factory job, ignored by her spouse since a tragic miscarriage, Ichii Masahide (Japan) paints a bleak portrait of a desperate life struggling with a multitude of inner demons.
Only: Canadians Ingrid Veninger (The Limb Salesman) and Simon Reynolds team up to explore the perils and passions of being 12.
Perfect Life: A young woman’s life is followed by Emily Tang (China) through menial labour (chambermaid) and her desperate attempts to somehow make her fantasies spill over into reality. Another Dragons and Tigers nominee.
Queer: Friends of Dorothy have all manner of flicks to savour from All Inclusive (Mexico) to Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (U.S.).
Reel Youth Film Festival: A kaleidoscope of shorts from up-and-coming filmmakers.
Stone of Destiny: This year’s Canadian Images section opens with Charles Martin Smith’s depiction of a quartet of lads repatriating the Coronation Stone from Westminster Abbey back home to Scotland in 1950.
Trip to Asia—The Quest for Harmony: A must-see for music lovers of all persuasions is Thomas Grube’s documentary of the mighty Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s symphonic trek through Asia.
Under the Tree – A Bali Story: A trio of short stories are woven into a thematic whole by Garin Nugroho (Indonesia)—all relate to the Balinese traditional death ritual.
VIFF Closing Gala: This year’s fest winds up with the Canadian première of The Class (Entre les murs)—Laurent Cantet’s vivid look at middle-school life in a Parisian inner-city.
Wonderful Town: No, not the musical, but Aditya Assarat’s (Thailand) study of rebuilding a coastal town after the 2004 tsunami. The drama swirls around an unwanted (by the weary community) affair between the high-priced Bangkok architect and the manager of his hotel.
Xceptional: Kari Skogland (The Stone Angel) directs 50 Dead Men Walking (Canadian Images)—based on a true story of an IRA infiltrator who’s secretly working for the British Special Branch.
Youssou N’Dour: Return to Gorée: Pierre-Yves Borgeaud’s (Switzerland/Luxembourg) considerable skills are employed to follow the Senegalese superstar on a multi-continent concert tour that plays its last set on the Island of Gorée.
Zzzzzz: After this many films, it’s time for a rest. JWR