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The 30th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival


In the 30 years since the inaugural Vancouver International Film Festival, a plethora of film festivals have sprouted up across North America and on every continent in the world, some to a lot more fanfare than is the case with our beloved VIFF. But after three decades, the Vancouver International Film Festival keeps evolving, enabling film lovers on the west coast of Canada an opportunity each year to screen provocative independent, Canadian, Asian, foreign and non-fiction films, as well as adaptive musical performances from eclectic performers, all the while providing a sometimes despairing, but generally hopeful, window on our often troubling world.

In 2011, the VIFF cinematic juggernaut runs for 16 days from Thursday, September 29th through Friday, October 14th, and in that time, at five venues — mostly in the downtown peninsula, including the Empire Granville 7, the VISA Screening Room at the Vogue Theatre, the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre on Seymour at Davie, Pacific Cinémathèque on Howe Street, and outside of downtown, on Cambie at 18th, at Festival Cinemas' Park Theatre — viewers can see more than 375 films: 235 features from 75 countries across the globe.

At the 30th edition of VIFF moviegoers can also catch 93 documentaries (of which 87 are feature length); 80 Canadian films — including 33 feature-length films, of which 17 are dramatic features and 16 are non-fiction features, one mid-length, and 40 shorts; 11 films in the annual Spotlight on France, and more than 30 feature films in the Arts and Letters section.

Dragons and Tigers, VIFF's annual tribute to Asian cinema, returns once again this year, attracting cutting-edge cinema from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand.

Many of the Festival's 70+ short films will be packaged in its nine compilations, including 1+1+1= 3 stories by young women, comprised of three contemporary narratives about women's dreams, joys, anxieties, and spirits, set in Taipei and Hong Kong; Life Can Be Hell, 11 dramatically compelling shorts from across the globe; Animation Nation, 11 shorts presenting various animation styles from countries including the U.S., Israel, Austria, Denmark and the U.K.; Choose The Right Thing?, 8 films which track the turmoil in teen's lives; and, Where There's Hope, There's Fire, 8 films which muse on the human condition.

In addition, as part of VIFF's Canadian Images series, there are four 'themed' shorts programmes, including Fire, 8 shorts exploring the issue of transformation; Earth, 8 films observing all facets of life on Earth; Air, 9 soulful, breath of life shorts; and Water, 7 healing, cleansing and purifying films, presenting slice-of-life stories told with passion and emotion.

The 2011 VIFF lineup includes 19 world premières, 30 international premières, 49 North American premières and 41 Canadian premières.

To celebrate VIFF's 30 years, on Monday, October 3rd at 11 a.m. at the Vancity Theatre, VIFF will present a live programme titled The Future of Cinema — Looking Forward After 30 Years featuring a distinguished group of panelists including film critic and academic David Bordwell; film producer and former director of the Rotterdam Film Festival, Simon Field; André Picard, film critic and programmer, formerly of the Toronto Film Festival and the Cinémathèque Ontario; Tom Charity, film critic and Vancity Theatre program coordinator; and Alan Franey, director, Vancouver International Film Festival. The panel will discuss the impact of technology on the film industry and whether the "metrics of quality and craftsmanship within our cultural institutions will be sustainable" moving forward. Admission is free.

This year's Opening Gala Film kicks off the Vancouver International Film Festival this Thursday, September 29th with a screening of Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In, starring Antonio Banderas as a brilliant plastic surgeon who, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman (Elena Anaya) who holds the key to his obsession.

The Canadian Images series will present Sarah Polley's new film, Take This Waltz, as its Gala Presentation, on Friday, September 30th. The film stars Michelle Williams as Margot, a young writer whose dissatisfaction with her perfectly sweet husband Lou (an unschlubby Seth Rogen in a standout performance) fuels an intensifying attraction to Daniel (Luke Kirby), the rickshaw driver cum sensitive artist type who lives across the street.

Slated for VIFF's Dragons & Tigers Asian film Gala is Japan's Mitsuko Delivers, Ishii Yuya's dramedy about a young woman in her 9th month of pregnancy who "asserts herself when all around her are floundering." Cannes' two-time Palme D'or winning Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have garnered the Closing Gala spot with The Kid With a Bike, a heartrending film chronicling the life of a boy who clings to a woman after his father abandons him.

For a Festival that runs for more than two weeks, and which takes place in 5 different venues throughout the city, for many the scope of VIFF is hard to take in. Still, it's important to make the effort. Even if you make it to only a few screenings, in order for VIFF to continue to thrive and succeed, it's important that you play your part in helping to sustain Vancouver's annual celebration of film, not just for yourselves and your friends but also for the many filmmakers who experience film as a spiritual endeavour, and the lifeblood of their existence.

Award-winning films you might consider attending (click on the links for external reviews): Alps, Venice Golden Lion nominee; The Artist, a breakout hit at Cannes; Like Crazy and Martha Marcy May Marlene, both of which won raves at Sundance; A Separation, winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin this year; and Somewhere Between, Linda Goldstein's Hot Docs Festival winner, which tracks the stories of four teenage Chinese adoptees.

Come back to VanRamblings throughout the Festival for what we hope will be an in-depth insight into the award-winning and 'buzz' films that are set to screen at the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival. As far as possible, we'll attempt to post external reviews and trailers, as well, for the films playing VIFF this year that arrive at our 'little' Festival by the ocean as the most lauded independent and foreign language films of 2011.

Ticket Information

All VIFF attendees must pay a one-time, annual, $2 membership (this way the Festival is permitted to present unrated films, allowing you to see films that province might not otherwise allow). Individual tickets ($12 evenings, $10 matinée may be purchased online at, by phone at 604.685.8297, or in person at the Festival box office (1181 Seymour Street), noon to 7 daily, and during the run of the Festival at the Empire Granville 7, 855 Granville, noon to six p.m. daily, or at any Festival venue.

Various VIFF Passes and ticket packages are available, including the Full Series pass (all regular screenings; $400/ $400 VISA premium pass), the Weekday Matinée pass, $175; Student and Senior passes, $325; and the Cinematic 30-Pack, $270, among other ticket packages.

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Come on back to VanRamblings for our daily coverage of the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, where we'll post on Festival buzz (from the line-ups to the parties), publish capsule film reviews written by the indefatigable 'Mr. Know It All' and Showbiz Shayne and, this year more than ever, post photos and video of VIFF30. See you back here often.

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Full VR daily coverage of the Vancouver Film Festival may be found here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 26, 2011 3:18 PM in VIFF 2011


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