By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Now at 31 years strong, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) runs from September 27 to October 12 with another year of incredible films from around the world. Following each year’s earth-shattering Toronto International Film Festival, VIFF offers a much more reasonable and just as exciting look at what continues to make the art of film so majestic in stature to other mediums.
VIFF 2012 kicked off with a bang as Indo-Canadian director of the Academy Award-nominated Water (2005) Deepa Mehta made a guest appearance at this year’s gala opening of her new film, an adaptation of the 1981 Salman Rushdie classic Midnight’s Children. The film enters theatres on October 26, and while some films such as Antiviral and Cannes-winner Amour are bound to follow suit with limited and wide releases of their own, part of what makes the VIFF experience one of kind is that there is a good chance you will never get to see many of these films again—and more often than not, one would severely be missing out.
[quote]One does not realize how tight-knit the film industry is until they’ve gone to a festival such as VIFF, where any film’s chance of recognition—deserved or otherwise—hangs by a thread. [/quote]
Their scarcity is due to a number of reasons, particularly that the majority of these films are from other countries, and are not likely to receive releases outside of their own regions beyond the festival circuit. One does not realize how tight-knit the film industry is until they’ve gone to a festival such as VIFF, where any film’s chance of recognition—deserved or otherwise—hangs by a thread. One call can literally cost a film its chance of ever being seen by another country, let alone its home audience.
So while the fact does indeed make VIFF a treasure of our own (and should hopefully get you out to catch a film), the other glowing aspect of it is the variety. There is literally everything one can imagine at this film festival: breathtaking adventures, stunning documentaries, heart-wrenching dramas, steamy romances, fucked-up sci-fi and horror, animation of all kinds—every one of these films exists at VIFF, and the majority of them are actually worth seeing. Yes, of course there are the one-offs we can live without, some even the hardcore film buffs can spare, but I’m happy to say those films are in an extreme minority.
Nearly 400 films are being shown at this year’s VIFF, and several have guest Q-and-A’s by directors, stars, and those behind the scenes for people who are interested in producing, editing, cinematography, and so on. I’m particularly excited for a Q-and-A with Brandon Cronenberg, who is the son of one of Canada’s greatest directors (to quote the VIFF website, “yes, that Cronenberg”); Cronenberg will be presenting his debut feature Antiviral, a Canadian horror, just in time for an October release.
Each day, select films will have guests in appearance, which I highly recommend keeping up to date with on the website under “GuestsàFestival Guests.” Besides bragging rights, the chance to get insight on films from those that are closest to their development is often an intriguing experience.
Also, be sure to keep up-to-date by checking out the VIFF website for the film schedule. As buzz and hype accumulate for the truly remarkable works, tickets begin to disappear. On top of that, new films are also added to the lineup as the days pass and deals are made.
As I stated before, every VIFF experience is a one-of-a-kind experience. Once you step onto Granville Street at any point in the festival’s time, you can instantly feel a change in the air, swarming you with excitement and wonder as to what all those filmgoers down the street are going to see that day.
Check out the schedule at http://www.viff.org/festival, or pick up a program guide downtown at the Granville Theatre. You won’t know what you’re missing until you take the time to find out!
(Switzerland/Germany/Austria, 2012, 91 mins, Dir. Markus Imhoof)
This documentary explores in great depth the not-so-mysterious disappearance of various bee species. A number of factors, which include the manipulative strategies by modern-day beekeepers and the use of toxic pesticides over a length of time, have caused some species of bees to become extinct, if not dependent on antibiotics. With incredible one-of-a-kind shots of bee colonies worthy of a David Attenborough narration, More Than Honey is a bittersweet look at what the future holds for bees, pollination, and the human race.
Additional Screenings: Thursday, October 4 @ 6:20 p.m. (Empire Granville 3)
Wrinkles (Spanish: Arrugas)
(Spain, 2011, 80 mins, Dir. Ignacio Ferreras)
Based on the Spanish comic book of the same name by Paco Roca, we follow protagonist Emilio, who upon realizing he has Alzheimer’s is placed in a retirement home. He befriends crook-of-sorts Miguel, who quickly shows us that this home will be theirs and many others’ final resting place. This animated film provides an unsettling and heartbreakingly realistic look into the subjects that line these homes today: unstable senior citizens who’ve since been forgotten. But with plenty of laughs in-between, we also learn that while the inevitable is not always ideal, we can always trek on.
Additional Screenings: Wednesday, October 10 @ 6:45 p.m. (Vancity Theatre)
Rust and Bone (French: De rouille et d’os)
(France/Belgium, 2012, 120 mins, Dir. Jacques Audiard)
Audiard’s heart-wrenching love story follows Ali (Matthias Schoenaerts) and Stephanie (Marion Cotillard), both of whom are content in their mediocrity. After a horrific accident, Stephanie struggles more than she’s ever had to, and despite his brutish behaviour, Ali manages to help her along the way. But Ali’s life is a crooked one, and while he means well, he has difficultly controlling his rage, even with his own toddler son. Without entering melodrama, we watch them work through every a-bomb life drops on them; emotionally and visually, Rust and Bone is absolutely beautiful.
Additional Screenings: Saturday, October 6 @ 3:15 p.m. (Empire Granville 7)
(Canada/USA, 2012, 112 mins, Dir. Brandon Cronenberg)
In a dystopic 2012, celebrity excess has evolved into something far more freakish. Syd March (Caleb Landry Jones) works for a clinic that harvests and sells viruses celebrities obtain to obsessive fans. March has been smuggling out diseases through his own body and selling replicas illegally, but when he becomes infected with the beautiful idol Hannah Geist’s (Sarah Gadon) latest illness, he’s only got so much time before this one actually consumes him. Cronenberg’s debut feature starts off slow, but once it kicks up we see his father’s left him with a delightfully twisted sense of humour, and the skills to create an incredibly original world. Not for the squeamish!
In theatres on October 12