By: Emma Best, Peak Associate
Film fans rejoice! With 135 features and 102 shorts, this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) program is jam-packed, offering in-person and select remote screenings. This year, VIFF has launched U25: a free membership program for those aged 19–25 that offers discounted passes, tickets, and more. If you’re overwhelmed by the extensive program, here are some of the films you won’t want to miss, playing at various locations.
Bones of Crows, Dir. Marie Clements
Screening September 29 and October 4
Content warning: this film features residential schools, sexual violence, child abuse, racism
Opening this year’s program is Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows, an expansive story following protagonist Aline Spears through several stages of her life — from surviving a childhood in the residential school system, to using her code-breaking skill during the Second World War. The Vancouver-born Dene/Métis filmmaker’s bold writing and directing makes for a daunting yet necessary tale of Canada’s history and the long road to reconciliation.
Brother, Dir. Clement Virgo
Screening October 1 and October 4
Content warning: this film features racism and violence
Rich with themes of race, family, and masculinity, Brother centers around siblings Michael and Francis (Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre), sons of Caribbean immigrants living in suburban Scarborough in the 1990s. Brother uses a dual timeline, going back and forth between the film’s present and past, to explore the lead up and fall out of an act of violence that changes the brothers’ lives forever. Written and Directed by Canadian filmmaker Clement Virgo, this film is adapted from SFU professor David Chariandy’s stellar novel of the same name.
Triangle of Sadness, Dir. Ruben Östlund
Screening October 3 and October 9
When models Carl and Yaya (Harris Dickinson and Charlbi Dean) are invited on a luxury cruise amongst the uber rich, it’s not exactly smooth sailing. From the bizarre demands of fellow passengers, to a disastrous turn of the weather, the cruise comes to an abrupt end when they become stranded on a desert island. From satrisit director Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness is bound to be a comical commentary of the upper class, fresh off its win of the coveted Palme D’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Nanny, Dir. Nikyatu Jusu
Screening September 30 and October 8 at 9:00 p.m.
Nanny follows Aisha (Anna Diop), an undocumented immigrant who lands a job as a nanny for a wealthy Manhattan couple, hoping to bring her son to America. However, her American Dream is soon threatened, as her waking and dream worlds are disrupted by a sinister force. Jusu’s debut feature, is said to be “inspired by West African folklore and North American socio economics,” and promises both a thrilling and chilling depiction of an immigrant’s journey.
Joyland, Dir. Saim Sadiq
Screening September 29, October 1, and remotely from October 6–9
Coming from a traditional family, Haider takes a job as a backup dancer for Biba — “a trans woman and trying to make her way as an erotic dancer.” Despite his best attempts to keep his job a secret, truths begin to unravel, and Haider and Biba fall into an intimate affair. As the first Pakistani movie to premiere at Cannes film festival, Joyland is set to be a fresh and honest dissection of identity and tradition.
Women Talking, Dir. Sarah Polley
Screening October 5
Content warning: this film features graphic violence and sexual violence
Based on Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name, Women Talking focuses on a group of women in a religious colony who are forced to confront their beliefs after a series of assaults committed by the men in their community. Toews, who grew up in a Mennonite colony in Manitoba, wrote her novel in response to a 2018 news story exposing a Bolivian Mennonite community for the abuse of over 135 women from 2005–2009. The film is sure to be a moving and important portrait of resilience.