Five films at the Vancouver International Film Festival that you don’t want to miss

For its 38 edition, VIFF offers us their best program yet

VIFF’s films span all genres and are shown at multiple locations throughout Vancouver. Image courtesy of Vancouver International Film Festival.

By: Kim Regala, Peak Associate 

My fellow cinephiles, brace yourselves, because the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) is back with quite possibly their best selection of films yet. Showcasing over 200 feature and narrative films, VIFF brings to light the works of various filmmakers spanning all across the globe. I wouldn’t be the first to say that each film in the program is definitely worth a view, but, in the interest of brevity, here are five films that you surely don’t want to miss on the big screen.

Image courtesy of Elevation Pictures / VIFF.

Guest of Honour, directed by Atom Egoyan

Showing September 26 at 7:00 p.m. and September 30 at 6:00 p.m. at The Centre In Vancouver For The Performing Arts

Kicking off the 16-day program at the opening gala is the work of Canadian director Atom Egoyan, with his feature film titled Guest of Honour. While it’s no question that Canadian cinema deserves a lot more recognition than it gets, this compelling work of art serves as a prime example of why. In this character-driven psycho-drama, Toronto health inspector Jim — played by David Thewlis — begins to revisit his regrettable actions towards his daughter as she is wrongfully convicted of a crime, but still insists on serving time. Egoyan explores the complexities of internal conflicts and struggles, manipulating the use of narratives to offer this unique way of storytelling. 

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures / VIFF.

Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi

Showing October 2 at 6:15 p.m. at The Centre In Vancouver For The Performing Arts

The teaser trailer of Taika Waititi’s latest playful satire alone could bring anyone to tears — from laughter, that is. Inspired by previous portrayals of Adolf Hitler by well-acclaimed comedians Charlie Chaplin and Mel Brooks, Waititi adds his own whimsical twist to the character. While his acting alone is enough to get everyone cracking up in their seats, he is also joined by a renowned group of A-list celebs, such as Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, and Sam Rockwell. The film combines strong political underlyings with a kind of Wes Anderson-induced aesthetic and quirkiness, two elements that could easily gain this film a couple of nominations come Oscar time.

Image courtesy of VVS Films / VIFF.

The Lighthouse, directed by Robert Eggers

Showing September 28 at 6:00 p.m. at The Centre In Vancouver For The Performing Arts

American director Robert Eggers is most notable for his chilling film The Witch (2015), and all eyes are on him now as he follows up with what is expected to be another memorable take on horror. Set in the 19th century, The Lighthouse follows the downfall and path to insanity of two lighthouse keepers that are stranded off the coast on a lonely and desolate island. Eggers does not shy away from using his background in theatre production, creating a masterpiece that is both theatrical and gothic in style. Rest assured that this stunning black and white thriller, starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, will have you gripping your seats for the entirety of the film. 

Image courtesy of Far Sun Film Co. Ltd. / VIFF.

No. 7 Cherry Lane, directed by Yonfan

Showing October 8 at 6:00 p.m. at The Centre In Vancouver For The Performing Arts and October 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the Vancouver Playhouse

Trying his hand at animated films for the first time, Chinese director Yonfan delights us with his heartfelt tale of 1967 Hong Kong, a rough period of political conflict within the country. Similar to how Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) amazed audiences with its inventive take on animation, Yonfan has manifested his own unique and imaginative style with No. 7 Cherry Lane. The visuals, meticulously detailed and drawn, are vividly striking, but what really sets this film apart is the way it is able to bring Hong Kong to life by showcasing its rich history on the big screen.

Image courtesy of MK2 Mile End / VIFF.

La Belle Époque, directed by Nicolas Bedos

Showing twice on October 11 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. (during the closing gala) at The Centre In Vancouver For The Performing Arts

Finishing off this list and closing out VIFF is La Belle Époque, directed by French director Nicolas Bedos. The film revolves around 70s cartoonist Victor — played by Daniel Auteuil — who is met with the opportunity to travel back in time, but not as literally as one may expect. Through a new enterprise called “Time Travellers,” clients are able to relive previous eras and time periods through a realistic immersion experience run by actors and technicians that replicate past events. While the idea of time travel is nothing new to science fiction, Bedos offers this completely new and never-before-seen approach to the genre. An original and entertaining twist to the genre, this film is a celebrated piece that deviates from the expectations of French cinema.

Single tickets, packages, and festival tickets are available for purchase at the VIFF website and at the Vancity Theatre box office. For more information, visit their website at viff.org.