The Toronto International Film Festival may get all the headlines and celebrity appearances, but for my money Vancouver is where it’s at.
Shorter lines, fewer sold-out screenings, closely bundled venues, nobody pushing you over to catch a glimpse of Michael Fassbender. Yes Sir, it’s the Vancouver International Film Festival for me all the way, and with 35th outing set to kick off today (September 29, 2016), I’m film nerding out in a way that makes “normal” people nervous.
The other great thing about VIFF is that, coming off the heels of TIFF that it does, it has many of the same films. Sure, there may not be as many world premieres and star-studded galas, but if your main interest is just seeing the movie and not being the first to tweet about it, waiting a couple of weeks and not flying to the other side of the country is a small price to pay.
To that end there are more than enough amazing looking movies to entice us Islanders over for a weekend, a week, or the whole darn two-week run.
In my own personal “can’t wait to see it” category is:
Personal Shopper from French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, his first reteaming with Kristin Stewart since the magnificent Clouds of Sils Maria, for which Stewart became the first American actress to win a César Award (French Oscars, basically)
German director Maren Ade’s Toni Erdmann, which is getting heaps of critical praise and even snuck on to the recent BBC Culture poll The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films, despite not having yet been released in North America.
Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) is back to ruffle some feathers with Elle, a “darkly comic” rape-revenge flick with Isabelle Huppert.
Another movie already creating some divisive lines among those who’ve seen it is Andrea Arnold’s American Honey. Arnold, best known for 2009’s excellent Fish Tank, here presents a music-fuelled “On the Road” full of “EDM, partying and guiltless sex.” I’m in.
Adam Driver is on a high in his career right now, and he’s teamed up with one of America’s best indie directors, Jim Jarmusch, for Paterson, about a small-town bus driver poet.
Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, About Elly) is one of the most exciting names in international cinema at the moment, and he’s back at VIFF this year with The Salesman, marking a return to his home of Tehran after filming The Past in Paris. With rich characters and simmering emotions, a Farhadi film is not to be missed.
It’s one thing to make one of the best movies of the year, it’s quite another to release yet another movie that same year. But UK director Terence Davies has done just that, with the exquisite ***Sunset Song out earlier this year and now A Quiet Passion doing the festival circuit. Cynthia Nixon plays poet Emily Dickinson, and the poetic, lyrical eye of Davies will likely be on full display.
A US indie with a lot of buzz is Moonlight, from director Barry Jenkins, a Florida-set coming-of-age story described as an “urgent, deeply felt take on what it means to be a black man in America today.”
Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu (Like Father, Like Son) returns to VIFF with After the Storm. Hirokazu’s films are known for their familial warmth and this new one sounds like no exception.
And to keep it local, VIFF has an entire Must See BC program to present the latest works from BC talent, including Alex Lasheras’ Cadence and Nettie Wild’s new doc Koneline: Our Land Beautfiul.
There’s a sole Victoria connection this year too, with director Connor Gaston (The Devout) screening his new short The Cameraman, about a boy who “must reconcile his relationship with his ill, abusive father while his kid brother captures everything with his Super 8 camera.” The film is based on a novel by Gaston’s father, Bill Gaston, and is produced by Black Press’ very own Arnold Lim. Catch it in the Kith and Kin program on October 6 or 13.
If you’re as crazy about movies as I am, I can’t recommend the trip over to Vancouver enough for this one. It is always a highlight of my year. Or if you’d rather live vicariously through me, keep an eye on mondaymag.com for updates and reviews, and follow @MondayMag and @CineFileBlog on Twitter for real time reviews and news. My full coverage begins October 8.
The Vancouver International Film Festival runs until Friday, October 14. For more information and a full list of films and screening times visit viff.org.