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Day Two: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival Coverage Commences



The opening night festivities of the 23rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival have passed into memory. Guests in attendance at the Opening Gala (held at The Commodore) included Vancouver fixture Sir Ian McKellan, Bruce Greenwood (here with the opening night film, Being Julia), local actors Carly Pope, Joely Collins and William B. Davis, as well as a host of other minor celebrities, too numerous to mention.

For film buffs, though — the cinéaste aficionado — the happening place to be was inside a darkened theatre (even if Vancouver began to experience a late burst of Indian summer yesterday), to catch an opening day film. Popular choices on the first day included Mirage (which will screen two more times at the Granville 4, on Monday, October 4 at 9 p.m. and Thursday, October 7 at 2 p.m.); Good Morning, Night (given a 4-star review by the Vancouver Sun’s Tom Charity yesterday); Moolaadé (the final screening of which VanRamblings will attend at The Vogue at 9:30 this evening), Hijacking Catastrophe: 9/11, Fear and the Selling of American Empire (which had a sold-out screening at Pacific Cinémathèque) and Machuca, one of the buzz films at this year’s Festival, and sure to emerge as a Festival favourite.

Buzz Films From the First Day of the Festival


Quirky to be sure, Baober in Love is a surreal, fever-dream of a film, the frantically charming story of a wondrously energetic sprite who takes us on a wild and sometimes unsettling personal journey, made all the more watchable by the pixie-ish presence of winsome newcomer Zhou Xun. During the course of the exposition of the film, viewers are provided with a subtle political insight into contemporary China, Zeng Nianping’s incandescent cinematography by turns revealing, hallucinatory, and just plain gorgeous. Worthy of a 2½ star (out of five) designation, Baober in Love may not be a great film necessarily but it is, as the VIFF programme suggests, “entirely captivating”.


One of the must-see films at this year’s Film Festival (it’s playing again next Thursday at 7 p.m. at The Vogue theatre), Machuca tracks a group of young boys attending school at Santiago, Chile’s St. Patrick’s English Academy in September of 1973, in the weeks leading up to the military coup that overthrew leftist-progressive President Salvadore Allende. As a piece of visual anthropology, Machuca provides a humanistic, heart-rending and melancholy insight into the class divisions at the centre of what became the failure of the democratic socialist experiment in Chile, the story set within a compelling coming-of-age drama that is, at turns both joyous and tragic, and always humane. VanRamblings recommends Machuca, awarding it a deserving 4-star designation.

Buzz Film of the Day — VanRamblings’ Friday Must-See Film


There is no film that will arrive at the 23rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival that has better buzz than Ousmane Sembene’s Moolaadé (the title, Sengalese for sanctuary) about which Eye Magazine’s Jason Anderson wrote in his 5-star review “The latest by Senegalese great Ousmane Sembene is a passionate argument against female circumcision and a rousing triumph for African cinema. A fiery-tempered woman (Fatoumata Coulibaly) provides shelter for a group of scared young girls who’ve fled their ‘purification rituals’. What one fellow calls ‘a minor domestic issue’ soon puts the entire community on the brink of violence. Though its subject matter is grave, Moolaadé brims with humour and vitality. This is politically committed filmmaking at its most vigorous and engaging.” Vogue, tonight at 9:30 p.m.

23rd Annual Vancouver International Film Festival Guide (click on the link)

Each day, VanRamblings will add 10 new reviews of films screening at this year’s Festival, taken from various sources, ranging from the Georgia Straight and the Vancouver Sun to the Hollywood Reporter and the New York Times, as well as many other sources. As of this writing, in alphabetical order, VanRamblings has added reviews for Baghdad Blogger / Salam Pax — Video Reports from Iraq; Beautiful Boxer; L’Esquive; Finisterre; Good Morning, Night; In the Realms of the Unreal; Machuca; Mirage; Or (My Treasure); and Schultze Gets the Blues.

As of this writing, there are 85 reviews available on VanRamblings; an additional 10, or more, reviews will be up on the site by noon Saturday.

More To Come Tomorrow on VanRamblings In the Day 3 Report

On Saturday, VanRamblings will introduce you to another site providing daily coverage of the Festival; provide a link to an audio interview with Fest director Alan Franey, link to Film Festival films that have been designated 14A by B.C.’s Film Classification branch, and thus have been deemed suitable fare for younger viewers (teenagers, not young children); and seek to publish our first Festival photos of the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 24, 2004 12:57 PM in VIFF 2004


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