|35 Years In and VIFF's Vision is Still Evolving
|by Greg Ursic
As the gondolas and sinking architecture retake centre stage in Venice, and the red carpets in Toronto have been put away for another year, Vancouver film fan(atic)s have perused the festival guide and come up with their detailed viewing itineraries in anticipation of Canada’s other big Film Festival. Now in its 35th year, the Vancouver International Film Festival aka VIFF, runs from September 29th to October 14th during which there will be more than 500 screenings of over 354 films from around the globe at multiple venues throughout the city.
You Can't Tell The Players Without A Program
With so many choices you may be tempted to just wing it, but I'm going to suggest you don't, not just because you might accidentally send your religious parents and their friends to an innocent sounding film that contains hard core sex scenes (happened to a friend of mine; he didn't go home for a few days afterwards). You want to make the best effort to ensure that your see something that interests you and will make your festival experience that much more positive.
If you know the name of a movie you want to see, you can search by title, browse all films by A-Z or browse by Series, Genre, Venue or some new options being offered this year including Streams, Content Type (https://www.viff.org/Online/default.asp). If you don't happen to have a computer, tablet, or mobile device handy, or prefer having hard copy that you can flip through and scribble on, you can pick up the VIFF film guide, available for free at multiple outlets around town (it includes a handy dandy pullout guide that you lets you plot your schedule if you're actually that organized. You can also check-out VIFF on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
Where It's At
Once you've figured out what you want to see, you need to know where it's playing (very important if you're seeing multiple films at multiple venues). Luckily if you're a returnee, they're using all the same theatres as last year. Also, as they're all easily accessible by transit you may wish to leave your car behind.
CENT - The Centre for the Performing Arts- 777 Homer Street (at Robson)
CINE - The Cinematheque, 1131 Howe (at Helmcken)
IN08-10 - Cineplex Odeon International Village (three screens) - 88 W Pender St (at Abbott - Stadium Skytrain Station) (bonus: free parking - just remember to keep your ticket stubs)
PLAY - Vancouver Playhouse (PLAY) 600 Hamilton Street (at Dunsmuir)
RIO - Rio Theatre (RIO) - 1660 East Broadway (at Commercial - near Commercial Skytrain Station ) (note: as liquor is served at this venue, guests must be 19 or older, ID is required).
SFU - SFU's Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (SFU) 149 W Hastings St (between Cambie and Abbott - SFU Woodwards)
VCT -- Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St (at Davie) consider
A quick rundown of the ratings:
1 to 1.5 Unless you're a masochist, walk on by.
2 to 2.5 If you have a free ticket and time to kill, it's an option
3 to 3.5 Definitely worth the price of admission
4 to 4.5 4 to 4.5 Make room in schedule even if you have to move things around
5 Miss this and you will regret it till your dying days
Over 90% of the things we eat, wear and use in our daily lives came by ship, and yet, despite traveling great distances, transport costs remain ridiculously cheap. As revealed in Freightened: The Real Price of Shipping this is possible due to flags of convenience that allow owners to escape taxes (and indemnity), crews that are little more than indentured labour, and ships that are often woefully maintained and sink at an alarming rate (the latter exacting heavy environmental costs). While interesting and informative, this foray into the cash and carry business, much like a rudderless ship, is all over the map at times and the stock narration feels flat.
30 September 2016 6:45 PM IN10
02 October 2016 11:00 AM IN9
12 October 2016 6:30 PM CINE
Portrait of a Garden is a year-in-the-life-of that follows a homeowner and master pruner in their 25 year project to rehabilitate a rural estate. Equal parts pastoral still life and fast motion fantasy, the garden’s magical metamorphosis from brown to brilliant is exceeded only by the variegated bounty it produces. There are a few pests in the plot however, notably the overuse of ground level shots and the often monosyllabic dialogue which are in need of some judicious pruning. Be warned, you may want to get your hands in the dirt after this one.
30 September 2016 1:00 PM VCT
02 October 2016 7:00 PM IN09
12 October 2016 4:00 PM CINE
When a clandestine meeting of money ministers is derailed by the sudden death of their IMF host the questions on everyone's mind are: "Did the monk do it?" and "Will he ruin our Plan"? Timely given the post-Brexit angst currently gripping the continent, The Confessions is a darkly humorous political thriller set on simmer which is masterfully anchored by Toni Servillo's subdued performance as the film's moral compass. One can only hope that he has a real life counterpart to keep things on the up and up.
01 October 2016 8:30 PM CENT
04 October 2016 11:30 AM IN09
Paulusie is a sensitive teen with a girlfriend and dreams of having family someday. Unlike most teens however he's spiritual, cares for his elderly grandparents and demonstrates a level of self-reliance that most adults lack. Set amidst gorgeous landscapes, Living With Giants is an even-handed contemplative piece, that provides a window into the unique challenges of Arctic life. Unfortunately the story struggles to recover from two abrupt plot shifts resulting in unnecessary confusion.
03 October 2016 10:45 AM IN10
12 October 2016 6:00 PM IN8
Only music aficionados would be foolish enough to head to Mississippi in the midst of the Civil Rights tumult to look for a pair of Blues artists missing for three decades. Two Trains Runnin' is an exercise in fortuitous synchronicity: a gripping quest intertwined with fascinating historical context, it features riveting performances by artists both past and present, spellbinding interviews and just the right amount of animation to provide a break from the typical talking heads motif. It also successfully highlights the re-emergence of disturbing political and social trends without a hint of preachiness. This year's Searching for Sugarman.
29 September 2016 6:30 PM CINE
08 October 2016 3:15 PM RIO
12 October 2016 6:30 PM IN9
A prison escapee heads to the country, but his newfound freedom leads to complications when he is reunited with his former love. Sins of the Flesh is a thriller that burns with the passion of forbidden love and difficult choices and also serves as an allegory for the Egyptian Revolution which rages in the background, and it succeeds admirably on both fronts thanks to a talented cast, and a good story. Until the third act that is, when the story devolves into a histrionic Egyptian telenovela.
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05 October 2016 8:15 PM IN8
07 October 2016 3:30 PM IN9
"I'm petrified of getting old" succinctly captures the mood that permeates All This Panic a documentary that follows two groups of young women as they transition to adulthood. Though it does tend to wander, the doc is abuzz with frenetic energy, capturing the highs and lows of the leads as they try to figure out what they want to do, who they want to be, and deal with the curve balls that life throws their way Most importantly the inherent hopefulness of the women shines through.
06 October 2016 1:00 PM PLAY
08 October 2016 6:30 PM SFU
Whether you accept that climate change is happening or not, Power to Change--The Energy Rebellion wants you to know that we as a species need to re-examine our reliance on fossil fuels. The problem is, there is nothing here that we haven't seen in a host of other documentaries and done much better; when it isn't trying to be a slick infomercial for renewable energy, it's dry, dull and repetitive and offers little more than rosy suggestions.
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04 October 2016 1:00 PM IN9
06 October 2016 9:15 PM IN8
A simple railroad employee discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when he finds a pile of cash and reports it to the authorities. If you need to feel better about your current situation, look no further than Glory , easily one of the most depressing movies around, it embraces hypocrisy, the ideals of style over substance and man's general inhumanity to man, and does it well. Marked by powerful performances, and dark humour, you'll enjoy hating it.
30 September 2016 4:15 PM IN10
09 October 2016 6:00 PM IN8
14 October 2016 11:00 AM SFU
While the title may spark visions of a B-movie about gangbangers, Prison Dogs follows a group of inmates who volunteer for the Puppies Behind Bars program which trains service dogs for veterans with PTSD. Much more than a series of puppy montages (although there are a few of those);it's a powerful testament to the healing power of animals evident in the transformation of the inmates as they bond with their charges, and the palpable euphoria of the vets that receive them. Inspirational and heartwarming; if this movie does not cause you to tear up you are officially a monster.
01 October 2016 10:45 AM IN9
10 October 2016 7:00 PM IN10
When a type-A personality investment banker and his hippy dippy wife hire an eccentric architect to build their dream home, complications and divorce dust may be on the horizon. The Architect starts out promising, especially when they're poking fun at the "organic method" architecture and the leads are engaging. Unfortunately the story takes an almost sinister turn in the third act leading to an insipid finale.
11 October 2016 6:30 PM PLAY
13 October 2016 11:00 AM IN9
14 October 2016 9:15 PM VCT
If you missed 2005's China Blue, you're probably not aware of the human toll wrought by the production of jeans, but not to worry, your favorite fashion choice is also ruining the planet. Riverblue is informative, occasionally shocking and balances the requisite amount of outrage with hope for a better future for both employees and Mother Nature. The problem is despite the title roughly a third of the runtime is devoted to the tanning industry, and befouling of rivers with garbage and human waste which proves distracting from the stated premise especially as it offers zero potential solutions on either front.
01 October 2016 6:30 PM SFU
04 October 2016 2:00 PM IN10
A writes commits publishing suicide after publicly slamming his own new book, and has to take a mindless job as a shipyard employee and endure the constant abuse of his spoiled shiftless son. The Yard is The Office taken to the next level of absurdity, with humor replaced by horror, where people are literally numbers walking around a monochromatic landscape and bound by insane rules. Well-acted and shot, it's uplifting insofar as it's so damned depressing that it will likely make you appreciate your job (and if it doesn't, you're probably in need of a career change).
29 September 2016 6:00 PM VCT
02 October 2016 1:30 PM SFU
11 October 2016 9:00 PM VCT
Fat kitty, skinny kitty, calico, tuxedo, Kedi's got every conceivable cat combination. A charming romp through feline friendly Istanbul this flick follows the four legged inhabitants as they go about their daily business and their interactions with the people who welcome their presence as friends and guardians and sometimes saviours of sanity. Unpretentious, heartwarming and most importantly not prone to vertigo inducing bouncy cams, you don't need to be a cat fan(atic) to appreciate this thoroughly enjoyable distraction.
01 October 2016 9:15 PM CINE
03 October 2016 11:00 IN9
In his farewell speech to the nation in 1961 President Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex. Shadow World not only confirms his fears, but demonstrates that, thanks to revolving door policies, the biggest arms dealers are now governments. The talking head interviews provide a disturbing insight into this ugly business and shocking revelations about the breadth of involvement and corruption that should have sank governments (but didn't) buoyed by a wealth of archival footage to drive the point home. Be warned this bounces around like a ping pong ball and features a couple “artistic” sequences that should have been excised, but it is riveting.
07 October 2016 10:45 AM IN9
13 October 2016 8:30 PM IN8
For a generation numbed by the stunning regularity of mass shootings in US, it's hard to believe that only 50 years ago they were virtually unheard of. Tower takes viewers back to the 1961 university of Texas massacre and reveals the chaos of that day through news footage, interviews and rotoscoped animated, the latter of which, while it sounds gimmicky, provides incredible experiential reference. Highlighting both the horrors and amazing acts of heroism that marked the event this disturbing nail biter is simply spellbinding.
01 October 2016 9:30 PM IN9
03 October 2016 3:30 PM IN8
14 October 2016 6:30 PM CINE
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3974
originally posted: 09/29/16 17:05:32
last updated: 10/03/16 18:13:40