Yes, the Vancouver International Film Festival is back for 2017. Today begins the 36th installment of the Film Festival. This year promises more excitement, more films and more events.
The biggest thing VIFF will have for this year is its Films+ talks. This is where there will be talks and lectures on film and its technicalities. The Creator Talk events promise big names and top experts in the field such as: Carlton Cuse, showrunner for Bates Motel; director Jeremy Podeswa and cinematographer Greg Middleton from Game Of Thrones; and costume designer Ane Crabtree from The Handmaid’s Tail. The festival also includes Industry Hub events which are full-day events focusing on industry activity and promoting film in the future. Such events include VR: Expanding frontiers In Storytelling, one day focused on the indie film industry, industry exchange events and a Buffer Festival.
As for volunteering, this year there were 1100 volunteers signing up. That is as big as it was during last year. Because of that, they’ve developed a new system for how volunteers can see a film for free. They would now have to wait in the rush line and wait until availability is know in order to get a seat for the film. Makes sense since it is quite common for volunteers to horde a lot of free showings during the fest. There is a plus: volunteers that serve their shift in its entirety can receive a voucher to get their own free ticket for certain films. It has to be done online. That makes better sense. I anticipate to see a lot of good films. I’m doing something new for volunteering. This year, I’ll be a driver. I am to drive people from the Sutton Hotel to the cinemas, the hotel to the airport, or pick people up from the airport to the Sutton Hotel or wherever they want to be dropped off. They will range from actors to directors to film crew to special guests. This is something new to look forward to. And I drive a Lexus SUV!
This year’s roster of films promises a lot of attractions This year’s VIFF claims to show over 300 shorts and feature films from 84 countries or regions. As of press time, 11 films are official submissions for the category of Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Oscars. A footnote worth adding is Quit Staring At My Plate from last year’s VIFF is Croatia’s official entry in the category for this year. Canadian films will remain the focus as has been in past Festivals.
This year’s top sponsors include Telus, Telefilm Canada (which is celebrating its 50th year), Christie screens, Delta Airlines, Lexus and Creative BC. SuperChannel will take over the People’s Choice awards again.
As for highlights, here’s a list of some of the films headlining the VIFF:
- OPENING GALA: Meditation park – Chinese Canadian director Mina Shum directs a live-action story set in Vancouver. Stars Sandra Oh..
- CLOSING GALA: Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes worked with Julianne Moore in 2002’s Far From Heaven. Here, Haynes and Moore return in a film that promises to be another delight.
- Borg vs. McEnroe – A film starring Shia LaBeouf about one of the greatest tennis rivalries of all-time.
- Breathe – Andy Serkis’ directorial debut about a young couple (Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy) whose young marriage is threatened by the husband’s sudden disability.
- Call Me By Your Name – Stars Armie Hammer. A story about sexual awakening in the 1980’s.
- A Fantastic Woman – A Spanish film of a trans woman dealing with life after losing the man she loves. won Best Screenplay at the Berlin Film Festival
- The Florida Project – Willem Dafoe stars in this film about a hotel manager with a hard heart who changes thanks to a six year-old girl.
- Happy End – Michael Haneke is back! This is a story of a privileged family living alone in their estate with their fortunes threatened over time.
- The Hidden Sword– Considered to be the biggest highlight of Asian film in the festival. This promises a lot of sword action.
- Indian Horse– This is a Canadian story that’s far-reaching. It focuses on a boy who’s a victim of the Canadian Residential School System but finds an escape in dance.
- The Killing Of A Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos, director of The Lobster, is back along with Colin Farrell to create another dark comedy. This time Nicole Kidman joins in this bizarre dark story. won Best Screenplay at Cannes.
- Loving Vincent – An animated film with a focus on the artwork of Vincent Van Gogh. More than 120 paintings are involved in this film.
- Okja– A South Korean drama about a young girl who develops a friendship with a giant animal in the mountains.
- The Square – Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, this is a bizarre comedy about an artist who creates his own eccentric world and bounds.
- The Party – British film about a politician (Kristin Scott Thomas) who holds a dinner for her contemporaries, only to wreak a lot of verbal havoc.
So this is what this year’s VIFF has in store. It all starts September 28th and it all ends October 13th. Looking forward to it.
Yes, the Vancouver International Film Festival starts again. Today begins the 35th installment of the Film Festival. This year will not only be exciting because of what to see but also what new additions are happening.
This year’s theme is: “Expand the frame.” Part of the aim of this year’s VIFF is to make the Festival more accessible and more creative. One of the new additions is the VIFF Hub. The Hub and surrounding area will be the location for lectures and exhibitions surrounding film and art. There will even be art exhibitions, virtual reality exhibits and music performances from DJs, local performers and performers from around the world. Some events are free of charge as long as you’re a VIFF member while some may be ticketed events. The VIFF website will explain it all.
Film is still the centre of it all. There will not only be films shown but lectures from industry professionals as well. Directors, producers and actors will appear at some showings for Q&A’s including an appearance of Tatiana Maslany. Deal-making will also be included in the process. This year, for the first time, there will be an IMAX film shown over at the Telus World of Science for the Closing Gala.
As for volunteering, this year there were 1100 volunteers signing up. Way higher than the usual 800 that serve the required 32 hours of work. Because of that, volunteer seating will be limited during many films or not allotted at all. Nevertheless I should be able to get in to see a lot of good films. This year promises to have hundreds of shorts and feature films from 73 countries, including five ‘globetrotting’ films. As of press time, 13 films are official submissions for the category of Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Oscars. A footnote worth adding is A Flickering Truth from last year’s VIFF is New Zealand’s official entry in the category for this year. Canadian films will remain the focus as has been in past Festivals. This year’s top sponsor is no longer Rogers but a more local big name in telecommunications: Telus. SuperChannel will take over the People’s Choice awards.
As for highlights, here’s a list of some of the films headlining the VIFF:
- OPENING GALA: Maudie – A biographic film of Canadian folk artist Maude Lewis starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.
- CLOSING GALA: Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience – An IMAX spectacle of the universe from the beginning of time to today. Written and directed by Terrence Malick and narrated by Brad Pitt.
- American Honey – A drama about a teenage orphan trying to grow up. Directed by Andrea Arnold and stars Shia LaBeouf.
- The Birth Of A Nation – This Sundance’s hot ticket and the hottest thing to come from the fest in years. Nate Parker writes, directs and stars in this drama of a slave rebellion that occurred decades before the Civil War.
- Elle – The latest black comedy from controversy-causing director Paul Verhoeven. Isabelle Huppert plays a video game CEO with a lust for power and revenge.
- The Girl With All The Gifts – A British zombie drama directed by Colm McCarthy and stars Gemma Arterton and Glenn Close.
- Graduation – A Romanian drama of a doctor doing what he can to insure his daughter gets into a presigious university. Director Cristian Mungiu won Best Director at this year’s Cannes Film Fest for this.
- The Handmaiden – A Korean drama of a pickpocket who plays a Japanese maid of an heiress whose fortunes he plans to steal. Divided by chapters and loaded with sensuality.
- Human – A documentary by French director Yann Arthus-Bertrand. It focuses on the world from on high from positive things like love to even negative things like murder.
- I, Daniel Blake – This year’s Palme d’Or winner at Cannes, this film focuses on a man getting his disability status reassesses and denied benefits. Ken Loach’s look at one man rivaling the system.
- Julieta – Pedro Almodovar is back! Spain’s submission for the Best Foreign Language film for this year’s Oscars, Almodovar returns to the heart-on-the sleeve melodramas with female lead characters he’s most famous for.
- Manchester By The Sea – Another highlight from this year’s Sundance. Director Kenneth Lonergan showcases a story of a man (Casey Affleck) returning to his Massachusetts home after the death of his brother and trying to sort out his family’s past.
- Milton’s Secret – A Canadian hot ticket directed by Barnet Bain, it’s a unique story of how a troubled 12 year-old teenager finds relief from the frustrations of his life through his grandfather. Stars Donald Sutherland and Michelle Rodriguez.
- Moonlight – Director Barry Jenkins showcases a drama of an African-American man struggling to come out despite the past troubles that haunt him.
- Toni Erdmann – Germany’s submission for the Best Foreign Language film for this year’s Oscars, the film tells the story of a woman frustrated with her conniving father and his female disguise that irritates her to the point of leaving him behind after her promotion.
So this is what this year’s VIFF has in store. It all starts September 29th and it all ends October 14th. Lots of excitement to come.
The festival opens Thursday September 24th and runs until Friday October 9th. This year’s festival looks full of energy. If you remember last year, it set a per-screen attendance record. Hopefully they can break it again or even break the total attendance record this year too. This is especially relieving since the future of the VIFF was questioned when the Granville 7 theatre closed. The last two VIFFs have been able to run very successfully under the new format and set-up. Having many theatres within various areas of the downtown and even including the Rio has not hurt attendance.
There aren’t that many changes in terms of screening of films. One minor change for the Rio is that they will be showing films on five nights at 11pm instead of 11:30. Another difference is that there’s an increase in the number of days films at the three screens of the International Village will be shown. It used to end on the last Sunday of the fest. Instead it will end the day before the fest closes: four more days. That will allow for more showings.
As for this year’s lineup, there will be 375 films shown over nine screens and sixteen days. Films with big buzz include:
Brooklyn – John Crowley directs this drama/comedy starring Saoirse Ronan that is loaded with buzz. Opening Gala film.
I Saw The Light – Tom Hiddleston takes a break from playing Loki and plays Hank Williams in this biopic. Closing Gala film.
Arabian Nights – Portuguese director Miguel Gomes directs a trilogy of films inspired by, but not adapted from, the novel.
Beeba Boys – Deepa Mehta directs a crime drama. Definitely one to raise eyebrows, especially among Indo-Canadian communities.
Dheepan – This year’s Palme d’Or winner from Cannes. Spotlights Sri Lankan refugees trying to make a living in Paris.
High-Rise – Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel that seems like a 70’s version of 50 Shades Of Grey.
Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words – Ingrid Bergman like you’ve never seen her before in rare film footage and an intimate look at the legend.
Louder Than Bombs – A family melodrama starring Jesse Eisenberg and Amy Ryan that can get overheated but touches on human emotions.
Room – Stars Brie Larson and William H. Macy. This Irish-Canadian drama may seem like a focus on one family until you learn its ugly truth.
A Tale Of Three Cities – A Chinese romance/drama directed by Mabel Cheung that is based on the real life story of Jackie Chan’s parents.
This Changes Everything – a documentary where Naomi Klein puts the right-wing pundit and other global warming critics in their place.
Youth – Remember how I did The Great Beauty? Director Paolo Sorrentino makes his English-language debut of a retiring director reflecting on his past. Stars Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Jane Fonda and Paul Dano.
As for volunteering this year, we’re now back to doing a single venue. However there are exceptions such as advertised jobs at certain venues such as in the case of disassembling and various other duties. Or my case where I work the International Village but want to volunteer on the two days it’s not operating such as yesterday. Fortunately I was given the bonus option of volunteering for Cinematheque. It was a good first night where I ushered and I was able to see a film. Review coming soon.
Anyways the VIFF has begun again. Be prepared for more films, fun and excitement.
This year’s festival looks to be optimistic. As you may remember, last year’s festival could be considered a test pilot for the new way of doing the VIFF. They had no choice. The Granville 7–our main venue for years–closed in 2012 and a whole new system had to be created. It took finding new venues like the Vancouver Playhouse, the SFU Arts Centre, three cinemas of the International Village and the Rio Theatre and relocate their gala shows from the Vogue Theatre to the Centre for the Performing Arts. The end result was a success as it had one of the best per-screening averages. Sure there was a slight decrease in the number of films shown and the number of screenings but it payed off and kept the VIFF in a very healthy state.
There are not too many changes as far as screenings of films. One cool thing is that there will again be 11:30 showings at the Rio Theatre during certain nights. The festival promises to show 365 films from 70 countries during its duration. Some of the hot ticket films include:
- Mommy– The latest film from 25 year-old Quebec directing phenom Xavier Dolan
- Wild- A film starring Reese Witherspoon from Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee
- Maps To The Stars – A film by David Cronenberg with an excellent performance from Julianne Moore
- Whiplash– a musical drama featuring drumming phenom Miles Teller
- Welcome To Me– A dramedy starring Kristen Wiig that’s surprisingly very personal
- Clouds of Sils Maria– A humorous but personal story starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart
- Foxcatcher– An Olympic story directed by Bennett Miller that ends up being far from the Olympic dream
- Men, Women and Children– The latest Jason Reitman film that shows relationships of teenagers and their parents’ relationships and the complications coming with it
- The Riot Club– An intriguing look at special clubs and establishments in England in the 1800’s
- Winter Sleep– Cannes’ Palme d’Or winner this year from Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan
- Goodbye To Language 3D– The latest from Jean-Luc Godard that caught the attention of crowds at Cannes.
The biggest change would be in the case of volunteering. In the past, volunteers would be kept strictly to a single theatre throughout the running of the festival. This time they can volunteer at any theatre or theatres they want. I myself have chosen to volunteer at three theatres so far. Yesterday at the volunteer orientation, all volunteers had to learn the five different duties which they will be assigned. This was the first time ever that the VIFF has given us instruction during the volunteer orientation. Nevertheless it’s a good thing for when they have to do their duty.
Anyways the festival begins tomorrow. Expect a lot of excitement. And expect to see a good number of reviews from me. For more information or to purchase your own tickets, go to the VIFF website.