The Vancouver International Film Festival has announced its most
anticipated films in the Gala and Special Presentation categories.
The films selected represent a true showcase of
international cinema, while highlighting homegrown talent in the world’s
showcase of Canadian films during the 34th
annual festival running from September 24th to October 9th.
John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” starts the festival off in the Opening Night Gala spot. Marc Abraham’s “I Saw the Light” holds the Closing Night Gala
position with a feature on the life of country star Hank
Williams. The film was produced by Vancouver’s Bron Studios. Canadian
remain a crucial part of the festival, Philippe
Falardeau’s “My Internship in Canada” will open the Canadian Images program,
while Patricia Rozema’s “Into the Forest” will occupy the BC Spotlight Awards Gala spot.
In 2015, Vancouver audiences will be exposed to
355 films from 70 countries. With 32 World Premieres, 33 North American
53 Canadian Premieres, this year’s festival
promises to be a feast for Canadian film lovers.
The full line-up and ticket are available at viff.org. Here are some highlights:
(John Crowley, U.K/Ireland/Canada)
Lured from Ireland by the American Dream, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) instead lands in a hardscrabble reality of cramped boarding houses and
grungy dancehalls. As homesickness grips her, she’s also torn between two admirers (Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen). With Nick Hornby
scripting, John Crowley crafts a stirring 50s-era immigration tale that also serves as an exhilarating profile of female empowerment.
Having played gods and monsters with aplomb, Tom Hiddleston takes centre stage as country music legend/renegade Hank Williams. In turns as
rambunctious as a barn dance and as reflective as a ballad, Marc Abraham’s film chronicles Williams’ rapid ascent to stardom and the
tragedy of a career cut short by substance abuse. Laid to rest at only 29, Williams left behind a truly remarkable body of work. Handling
the singing chores himself, Hiddleston does the man—and his music—proud.
Canadian Images Opening Film
My Internship in Canada
(Philippe Falardeau, Canada)
Philippe Falardeau (“Monsieur Lazhar”) returns with an energetic, laugh-out-loud political comedy that couldn’t be more timely.
Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard, brilliant) is an independent Quebec MP traveling to his northern riding with a new Haitian intern. Soon
after finding themselves caught in the crossfire of activists, miners, truckers, politicians and aboriginal groups, it turns out that
Guibord somehow holds the decisive vote in a national debate that will decide whether Canada will go to war in the Middle East! The
fabulous Suzanne Clément co-stars.
BC Spotlight Awards Gala
“Into the Forest”
(Patricia Rozema, Canada)
The BC coastal forest is in all its glory as a father and his two daughters drive off to their remote and idyllic getaway home. They have
little sense at first of the growing apocalypse that they are leaving in their wake. It will come to them. Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood,
Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie and Michael Eklund star in this Patricia Rozema-directed adaptation of Jean Hegland’s novel.
(Deepa Mehta, Canada/India)
Mix propulsive bhangra beats, blazing AK-47s, bespoke suits, solicitous mothers and copious cocaine, and you have the heady, volatile
cocktail that is Deepa Mehta’s latest film, an explosive clash of culture and crime. Jeet Johar (Indian star Randeep Hooda) and his young,
charismatic Sikh crew vie to take over the Vancouver drug and arms trade in this all-out action/drama. Blood is spilled, heads are cracked,
hearts are broken and family bonds are pushed to the brink.
(“Miguel Gomes,” Portugal)
Miguel Gomes’ (“Tabu,” “Our Beloved Month of August”) astonishing three-volume, six-hour epic
draws inspiration from the tales of Scheherazade (here played by Crista Alfaiate) and once again uses a fascinating combination of reality
and fiction to comment on Portugal’s past, present and future.
(Jacques Audiard, France)
Jacques Audiard’s (“A Prophet,” “Rust and Bone”) latest dramatic inquiry into life on
society’s margins is an alternately gripping and tender love story about the eponymous former Tamil fighter (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) and
his improvised family, who exchange war in Sri Lanka for violence of another kind in Paris.
(Ben Wheatley, U.K)
Ben Wheatley’s bold adaptation of JG Ballard’s novel takes no prisoners. This scorching satire on class, hedonism and depravity in an
imploding luxury apartment building is an even more apocalyptic class polemic than “Snowpiercer”. Throw in exquisitely unsettling
turns from Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, a string quartet cover of ABBA’s 1975 hit “SOS,” an orgy or two and spice with cannibalism, and
you have a tour de force of astonishing architectural ambition.
“Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words”
(Stig Björkman, Sweden ), Canadian Premiere
, Notorious, Voyage to Italy… That Ingrid Bergman, three-time Oscar winner, is one of filmdom’s all-time greats is
inarguable. Narrated by Swedish (and now Hollywood) star Alicia Vikander, Stig Björkman’s intimate exploration of Bergman’s personal and
professional life benefits immensely from the cooperation of Bergman’s daughter Isabella Rossellini, who allowed him access to
never-before-seen private footage, notes, letters, diaries and interviews. The result is a rich and multicolored portrait of this
extraordinary human being—in her own words.
“Louder Than Bombs”
(Joachim Trier, U.S.A/France)
When a war photographer (Isabelle Huppert) dies on assignment, her husband (Gabriel Byrne) struggles to mount a retrospective while dealing
with his grieving sons (Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid) and her combative colleague (David Strathairn). Joachim Trier (“Oslo, 31st August”) poses tough questions about family, marital responsibility and balancing one’s calling and kin.
(Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland, Canada, U.K)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and based on the best-selling Man Booker Prize-nominated novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue, this is
the story of five-year old Jack, who lives in an 11-by-11-foot room with his mother. Since it’s all he’s ever known, Jack believes that
only “Room” and the things it contains (including himself and Ma) are real. Then reality intrudes and Jack’s life is turned on its head…
A remarkable and disturbing work.
“A Tale of Three Cities”
(Mabel Cheung, Hong Kong/China)
A rousingly entertaining movie romance, this historical drama tells the deeply moving story of kung fu superstar Jackie Chan’s parents.
Both grew up in China’s tumultuous 20th century, swept by war, revolution and resistance. When charismatic customs officer Fang (Lau
Ching-wan) meets impoverished young widow Chen (Tang Wei), an unbreakable bond is forged. Together, their love endures through
extraordinary adventures, as they head towards a future in Hong Kong.
“This Changes Everything”
(Avi Lewis, Canada)
Naomi Klein (“Shock Doctrine”) has risen to prominence around the world as one of Canada’s most forceful and relevant public
intellectuals. Her cogent call to direct action has inspired youth, helped chart roadmaps for social progressives and environmentalists,
and yet worried those who believe that her critique of capitalism plays into the hands of right wingers who think climate change is a
socialist plot. Join us, Naomi Klein and director Avi Lewis for this special presentation of “This Changes Everything.”
(Paolo Sorrentino, Italy/France/Switzerland/U.K)
Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz anchor Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous follow-up to The Great Beauty. Fred (Caine), a
retired composer, and friend Mick (Keitel), a film director, are sojourning in a stunning Swiss alpine spa. Surrounded by bodies old and
young, supple and sagging, they reconsider their pasts–while Sorrentino choreographs the action with exquisite control.
Canadian Images Special Presentations
(Paul Gross, Canada)
In Paul Gross’ film, ripped from the headlines, a sniper, who has never allowed himself to think of his targets as human, becomes
implicated in the life of one of them. An intelligence officer, who has never contemplated killing, becomes the engine of a plot to kill. A
legendary Mujahideen warrior, who had put war behind him, is now deeply involved. Three different men, three different worlds, three
different conflicts, yet all stand at the intersection of modern warfare.
(Atom Egoyan, Canada)
Atom Egoyan returns with a completely original take on the darkest chapter of horror in the last century. Christopher Plummer plays a man
who’s looking for the person who might be responsible for wiping out his family, as he strains to seize the evanescent memories of long-ago
brutality. The all-star cast includes Henry Czerny, Martin Landau and Bruno Ganz. Benjamin August’s screenplay will keep you guessing until
the very end.