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Vancouver International Film Festival 2005


Vancouver International Film Festival Returns to Form

Brace yourself: The Vancouver International Film Festival — 16 days of more than 300 films, dozens of guests and countless sleepy-eyed patrons who’ll catch up to seven films a day — got underway with its 24th edition earlier today. And while its opening-night film, Water, Deepa Mehta’s long-awaited final instalment of her elements trilogy, is a fictional feature, there’ll still be more than 75 non-fiction films at this year’s event.

Among the local filmmakers who’ll appear at VIFF is Aubrey Nealon, whose feature début, A Simple Curve, will receive its Vancouver première. “In a year marked by an impressive range of strong western Canadian features, Nealon’s warm and witty film stands out as a well-crafted and fully realized gem,” enthused Canadian Images programmer Diane Burgess at the opening press conference, held earlier this month..

During the first two-thirds of its 24 years of existence, the Vancouver International Film Festival has gone through a long process of development in which it has varied wildly in terms of venue, format, emphasis, length and number of films. But by the mid-’90s, it hit upon a satisfying template that Festival director Alan Franey thought “worked for VIFF,” and which it’s been repeating, with slight variations, ever since: 300-plus films over 16 days at five basic locations.

Although the key features of the Festival remain the same — Canadian Images, Dragons and Tigers and Cinema of Our Time — each year the Festival has introduced special programmes, this year offering four regional series:

1. The New World, focusing on the cinema of countries formerly part of Austro-Hungary — Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Serbia. A film by Austrian director Paul Rosdy gives the series its name, shuffling the history of Austro-Hungary “like a deck of cards,” according to Franey, who goes on to say, “The New World shows the countries of the eastern part of Europe to be a hotbed of up-and-coming cinematic talent, with films that cross borders and represent the new Europe, with all of its troubles, anxieties and newfound pleasures.” Nobel laureate Imre Kertesz adapts his own autobiographical novel about life and death in a concentration camp for Fateless, a provocative film that will receive one of the Festival’s featured screenings.

2. Independent American Directors This year the Festival welcomes an unprecedented lineup of American independent directors, including Ira Sachs, Lodge Kerrigan, Andrew Bujalski, Robinson Devor, Ian Gamazon, Neill Dela Llana and Jenni Olson. Highlights include Kerrigan’s Keane, which follows a schizophrenic street person in New York as he tries to find his kidnapped child; Ian Gamazon’s and Neill Dela Llana’s Cavite, an action thriller set in the slums of Manila; and Devor’s mean streets crime drama, Police Beat, set in Seattle. Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, features Rip Torn in a story set amidst the world of Memphis blues music. “The quality of these films shows that there are independent voices in America who are not afraid to tell their own stories, in styles that are apart from the Hollywood machine,” Franey says.

3. Spotlight on France Offering 14 new films from France, encompassing a wide selection of well-known auteurs and up-and-coming d├ębut filmmakers. Highlights include The Last Mitterand, with a riveting performance by Michel Bouquet as the dying statesman; Hell, Danis Tanvovic’s epic portrait of a family torn apart by events from the past; and Gilles Porte and Yolanda Moreau’s When the Tide Comes In, an irrepressibly eccentric, thoughtful, and infectiously whimsical comedy about loneliness and emotional synchronicity.

4. Brazilian Music, a five-film subsection of the NonFiction Features programme devoted to the popular sounds coming from Brazil, ranging from the soul-stirring Brasileirinho focusing on choro, jazz-infused compositions featuring the mandolin, clarinet, flute, guitar and saxophone; to the legendary work of Maria Bethânia, whose soulful renditions of folk songs and ballads have inspired fans and fellow musicians the world over.

World Cinema

There’s plenty of début works but, happily, this year’s edition is much less of an amateur hour than usual. Indeed, for some reason, there seem to be more name directors represented in the lineup than any VIFF in years: Denmark’s Lars von Trier’s, Manderlay picks up where Dogville left off; Austria’s Michael Haneke, winner of the Best Director prize at Cannes, arrives at the 24th annual VIFF with Caché; France’s Claire Denis presents her extraordinary new film The Intruder which boldly sets about to dissolve the border between narrative films and life; Canada’s Thom Fitzgerald returns with 3 Needles, his visually stunning exploration of epidemics, intercutting three narrative sets on different continents; Belgium’s Dardennes brothers Cannes D’Or winner, L’Enfant is the closing night film; while Japan’s Kitano Takeshi is back again this year, along with 22 other Japanese filmmakers, ranging from the acclaimed Shunichi Nagasaki to Shibutani Noriko, who presents Tokyo Grand Prix winner, Bambi ♥ Bone.

Sadly, most of the 230 features of the festival do not have a Canadian distributor and will not return for a theatrical engagement, so this may be your only chance to see them outside of a specialty video store, providing all the more reason to open up your window on the world.

Festival Info at a Glance

WHEN: Thursday, September 29th through Friday, October 14th.

TICKETS: $9.50 adults, $7.50 seniors, $7.50 matinees. Consider purchasing a pass: $100 for a weekday matinee pass, $220 for a senior or student pass, or $260 for the VISA Gold Pass, which admits valid passholders to all Festival and Media screenings. Box offices are located at the new Vancouver International Film Centre, 1181 Seymour; and the Pacific Centre kiosk at Granville and Georgia.

SPECIAL EVENTS: $100 for any one of the Opening Night (September 29th), Anniversary (October 8th), or Closing Night (October 14th) galas.

WHERE: VanCity Theatre at the VIFF Centre, 1181 Seymour, at Davie; Granville 7 Cinemas, 955 Granville Street, south of Robson; Pacific Cinémathèque, 1131 Howe Street; Ridge Theatre, Arbutus at 16th Avenue; The Vogue, 918 Granville Street.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 29, 2005 7:41 PM in VIFF 2005


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