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2007 Vancouver International Film Festival
Another Epic Immersion in Films From Across The Globe

2007 VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

On Thursday, September 27th, the annual marathon Vancouver International Film Festival opens its 26th edition. Over the course of the next 16 days, the city will play host to more than 350 films. Statistically, VIFF is Canada's largest film festival. Here's a breakdown: 242 features, 90 documentaries and 119 shorts — representing 50 countries, 42 world premières, 29 North American premières and 34 Canadian premières.

Beyond the record number of débuts, VIFF '07 is mounting more film-related events — celebrity appearances, director Q&A's, forums, panels — than ever before. VIFF continues to be both a supermarket of films and an industry convention all in one, while offering a window on the world to an ever-increasing and enthusiastic group of cinéastes from across the globe.

This year, the Vancouver International Film Festival expands its traditional Dragons & Tigers: The Cinemas of East Asia series to include a spotlight on China. Speaking at the Festival launch earlier in the month, Festival Director Alan Franey emphasized B.C.'s importance as Canada's "Pacific Gateway" to Asia. "China will take centre stage — not just this year but for the next couple of years," Franey announced at VIFF's VanCity Theatre.

Meanwhile, all the usual VIFF features will be back: Galas and Special Presentations, Non-Fiction Features; Canadian Images, Cinema of Our Time, and Spotlight on France. New this year is Climate for Change, a series that will include both dramatic features and documentaries emphasizing fresh information, vision and cinematic artistry, a $25,000 juried environmental film series committed to eco-consciousness, sponsored by Kyoto Planet.

Opening/Closing

The Festival gets underway on Thursday, September 27th with a 7 p.m. screening of the exceptionally well-reviewed adaptation of Atonement, Ian McEwan's celebrated 2001 novel, described by critics as "complex, delicate and devastating, a dazzlingly rich and romantic pre-and-post WWII epic that is above all a touching love story possessed of a potent sexual charge." The film stars Keira Knightley, who won an Oscar nomination in 2005 for Pride & Prejudice, and James McAvoy, who impressed last year in the Oscar-winning Last King of Scotland.

Sixteen days later the Festival closes, on October 12th, with Priceless (Hors de prix), a gentle, sun-drenched tale of whimsy and larceny, starring Audrey Tautou as a material girl on the make in the south of France, who much to her surprise falls in love with her male protégé.

Special Presentations

Two films have been deemed worthy of a distinctive showcase: the winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival this year, Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, a harrowing Romanian tale set in 1987 (near the end of the Ceauscescu era), which tells the story of the grim lengths to which two young women will go to end an unwelcome pregnancy in a totalitarian society indifferent to their fate unless it involves punishing them.

The other film, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, offers a wrenching crime drama involving a chain reaction of tragedy and betrayal. Master helmer Sidney Lumet directs an all-star cast including Albert Finney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke and Marisa Tomei who bring this heist tale to thrilling life in a story spiked with palpable tension and genuine suspense. Courtesy of Sasha Stone, here's the trailer, in English with French subtitles.

World Cinema

As usual, VIFF lives up to the I in its name by filling most of its slots with a smorgasbord of films from Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. Although the films invited to the Festival are largely of unknown quality, the real joy of the Festival occurs in taking a risk and discovering some little gem from Tunisia or Lebanon that knocks your socks off. As always, France is well-represented, with more than 20 features. The 19-film German series includes Doris Dorrie's culinary documentary How to Cook Your Life, and Fatih Akin's Cannes' award-winner (for Best Screenplay), The Edge of Heaven, "an utterly assured and profoundly moving film", says Variety.

Other high profile films which arrive at the Festival as five-star favourites, include: Secret Sunshine, which won a best actress prize for lead Jeon Do-yeon at Cannes this year; Sons, which won the Jury Prize at the Seattle Fest this year; and Fish Dreams, a richly observant document of impoverished Brazilian coastal life. The 12-film Japanese series features Glory to the Filmmaker!, Takeshi Kitano's latest auto-reflexive deconstruction; Izumi Takahashi's The Soup, One Morning, a sensitive, thoughtful, harrowing look at troubled lives; and Dragons and Tigers award nominee, This World of Ours, a scabrous portrait of Japanese high-school kids: bullying, self-harm, underage drinking and gang rape.

Documentaries

With more than 90 documentary features, VIFF qualifies as one of the world's great platforms for non-fiction filmmaking. This year's award-winning, eclectic line-up includes: For the Bible Tells Me So, Daniel Karslake's thoughtful and passionate examination of the religious conservative view of homosexuality; Made in China, John Helde's personal and moving story about how he came to understand his father's childhood as an American growing up in 1930's China; and My Kid Could Paint That, the story of a child prodigy, director Amir Bar-Lev's engrossing meditation on truth, media exploitation and the value of art.

Canadian Focus

Once again, Canadian films take centre stage at VIFF, with 82 films selected to screen at the festival, from the more than 600 films submitted: 23 feature-length dramas, including eight world premières, nine feature-length documentaries, three medium-length films and 46 shorts. Literary adaptations figure prominently in this year's line-up, including writer-director Kari Skogland's adaptation of Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel; and director Jeremy Podeswa's well-reviewed Fugitive Pieces, adapted from Anne Michaels' much-admired novel about Jakob, a Polish boy who is rescued from the Nazis by a Greek archeologist (Rade Sherbedgia) but never escapes his memories of his family.

VIFF INFO

Most screenings at this year's VIFF will take place at the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas, while The Ridge, Pacific Cinémathèque and VanCity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre will host their fair share of films. Even the CN IMAX Theatre will screen VIFF films this year. For a full schedule and ticket information, click here, or call the Starbucks Hotline 604-683-FILM (3456), open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, through October 12. The VISA Charge by phone line, at 604-685-8297, is open noon to 7 pm daily, with most tickets at $7.50 - $9.50 (a deal at twice the price). The Festival programme is available around town at most bookstores and Starbucks outlets.

VanRamblings will begin posting daily updates Thursday, September 27.



Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 17, 2007 12:30 AM in VIFF 2007

   

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