Five films that put “international” in Vancouver International Film Festival

From Singapore to Sweden, these titles deserve your full attention

Illustration of a movie theatre screening room. The back row of red chairs features flags from countries around the world.
Enjoy a worldly range of movies at VIFF 2021. Illustration: Van Mai / The Peak

By: Emma Best, SFU Student

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) celebrates its 40th season this year with over 110 feature films and 75 shorts. The hybrid model presents the perfect opportunity to see films from all over the world, which wouldn’t typically be available to regular moviegoers. These films have the capability of broadening one’s horizons in terms of genre, style, origin, and language. 

  1. The Worst Person in the World

Country: Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark

Language: Norwegian

VIFF category: Contemporary World Cinema 

The Worst Person in the World follows med school student Julie (Renate Reinsive) through four years of her life. While navigating the rapid waters of young adulthood, Julie struggles with her love life, winding career path, and ultimately herself. This Norwegian film is set to be a humorous and heart-warming depiction of one’s most tumultuous and formative years. It features an exceptional lead performance from Reinsive, who was awarded Best Actress at Cannes Film Festival following the film’s premiere earlier this year. 

  1. A Chat

Country: China

Language: Mandarin

VIFF category: Gateway 

Ahead of its international debut at VIFF, the Chinese film A Chat is a portrait of the female experience. The story centres on Qing (Ying Ze), an independent divorcee who has her own tailoring shop, and Qing’s niece Yue (Mu Ruini), who visits her aunt one summer to learn more about her craft. As secrets emerge and truths begin to unfold, this piece promises to be a tranquil yet empowering image of family, relationships, and womanhood. A Chat is also available to view through VIFF’s virtual cinema, VIFF Connect

  1. Flee

Country: Denmark/Sweden/Norway/France

Language: English, Danish, Russian, Dari, Swedish

VIFF category: Insights

Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee tells the true story of his pseudonymous friend Amin, an Afghan refugee who came to Denmark as an unaccompanied minor. As a 36-year-old academic and engaged to his  boyfriend, 20 year old secrets begin to resurface. The film tries to piece together memories and fragments from the diary entries Amin wrote in the Dari language he now barely understands. Flee was the winner of the Grand Jury prize for World Cinema Documentary at Sundance 2021. It uses the animated medium to retell and examine Amin’s story through powerful and illuminating images. 

  1. What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?

Country: Germany/Georgia

Language: Georgian

VIFF category: Contemporary World Cinema  

What Do We See When We Look at the Sky? is a thoughtful examination of all that surrounds budding couple Lisa (Oliko Barbakadze/Ani Karseladze) and Giorgi (Giorgi Ambroladze/Giorgi Bochorishvili) — from dogs to music to the 1991 World Cup game the film takes place during. As the recipient of the Jury competition prize at Berlin International Film Festival, this German/Georgian film is sure to be a portrait of love and the circumstances which allow and encourage it to flourish. This film is also available to screen through VIFF Connect, which includes a recorded Q&A with director Alexandre Koberidze. 

  1. Yuni

Country: Indonesia/Singapore/France/Australia

Language: Indonesian

VIFF category: Gateway

Yuni (Arawinda Kirana) is a typical Indonesian high schooler. She’s smart, strong-willed, and well on her way to receive a prestigious college scholarship. However, as her best friends begin to get married and have children, Yuni feels pressure to accept a proposal too — even if it’s from a man she doesn’t know. Winner of the Platform Prize at TIFF, this piece depicts the confrontation between a woman’s academic pursuits and the rigid expectations of society. 

For more information on VIFF’s 2021 program and ticket prices, visit their website