VIFF program highlights

Photo courtesy of Mongrel Media.

Film fans rejoice. The 34th annual Vancouver International Film Festival has unveiled their full program and will present over 250 films, via 550 public screenings, from 70 countries across the globe. Of the 238 feature films in that count, 32 will be world premieres, 33 North American premieres and 53 Canadian premieres. The Festival will be held from September 24 to October 9, during which time the spirit of film is sure to pulse through the city.

The opening Gala, scheduled for September 24, will showcase John Crowley’s Brooklyn, a romantic tale of immigration and longing, hinged on the life of Ellis (Saoirse Ronan), an Irish girl summoned across the sea by the American Dream. Bringing Nick Hornby’s adaptation of Colm Toíbín’s novel into a new light, Crowley’s drama will kick start the 16-day festival at the Centre For the Performing Arts with a screening on its remarkable 50-foot screen.

And that’s just the beginning.

Arabian Nights is described by VIFF as “the year’s most ambitious cinematic undertaking.” While this three-part production is inspired by the folk tales of the same name, director Miguel Gomes gives us insight into the current struggles of economically depressed Portugal through an assortment of tales.

Based on the best-selling Man Booker Prize-nominated novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room tells the story of five-year-old Jack, who is trapped in an 11-by-11-foot room with his mother.

VIFF is one of the largest showcases of Canadian cinema, and this year’s roster holds true to that reputation. Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship In Canada, is a lively political comedy hailing from Québec. It stars Patrick Huard as Steve Guibord, an independent member for Prescott-Makadew à Rapides-aux-Outardes who must decide if Canada will go to war in the Middle East.

Beeba Boys is a breakthrough for director Deepa Metha, as he tackles “adrenaline-charged crime cinema” with full force. The film features Jeet Johar (Randeep Hooda), a Sikh mobster loosely based on “Bindy” Johal, the drug trafficker who was murdered in a Vancouver nightclub. Filmed in our very own city, this rambunctious film brings us into the world of the Indo-Canadian community, stereotypes, culture clash, and crime.

Lewis Bennett’s The Sandwich Nazi tells the story of the hilariously vulgar Salam Kahil, a self-described “Arab Muslim Lebanese owner of a Scandinavian deli with a French name” who runs an unconventional deli in Surrey. After showing this film around the world, the team is “excited to share it with our home community.”

Canadian intellectual icon Naomi Klein is at the forefront of Avi Lewis’ This Changes Everything, a provoking film that builds Klein’s idea that we can seize the existential crisis of climate change to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.

Patricia Rozema’s Into The Forest, a BC Spotlight Awards Gala presentation, presents sisters Nell and Eva (Ellen Paige and Evan Rachel Wood) in a world stripped away from everything they know, from electricity to the solar system — except for each other.

Closure will come with I Saw the Light, Marc Abraham’s biopic starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams. The film will take us through Hank’s rise to stardom and the tragedy of the loss of his career to substance abuse and complications from spina bifida.

Much of the festival’s power is cultivated from its major themes, which weave cohesive narratives throughout the sixteen days. This year’s themes include: Aboriginal, Deep Time, The Great Divide, VIFF Impact, Hidden Pasts, Digital Futures (in partnership with SFU), and On Comedy.

From film fanatics to those looking for something different from a Hollywood production, this year’s festival offers something for everyone.

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