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VIFF 2008: Strong, Compelling Films Define VIFF08's Waning Days


As the 27th annual Vancouver International Film Festival draws, inexorably, towards its triumphant close, VanRamblings seems to have found a second wind, and looks forward to catching lots of Festival films Thursday & Friday.

The above said, as is the case with many Festival aficionados, we are feeling a bit weary after catching 4 or 5 films each day, over a period of 16 days.

Secretly, if truth be told, we're sorta glad the Festival is drawing to a close.

But we feel conflicted. Yes, we're tuckered after viewing 50+ hard-hitting foreign films. But, really, we don't want this phantasmagoria of film to end.

Because we've got four screening to take in on Thursday3 Women, Sita Sings The Blues, Afterschool, and Donkey in Lahore — we'll keep tonight's posting mercifully brief. After all, only hours from now, VanRamblings will begin our last full day of the Festival. There's films to see — we'll be there.

Flame and Citron (Grade: A-): One of the must-see buzz films at this year's Festival, Flame and Citron easily lives up to its pre-fest billing as gripping, entirely involving Danish film fare, as director Ole Christian Madsen explores the internecine power struggles in WWII's Danish resistance movement, the subterfuge, and the duplicity. Wonderfully rendered. An important film, and when you get right down to it, an overall better made film than last year's much-ballyhooed Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film, The Counterfeiters.

Hunger (Grade: B+): As James Christopher writes in the London Times, "a stunning début feature." A portrait of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands — one of the key figures in the IRA struggles of the 1980s — and set in H-Block of Maze Prison where republican inmates staged a " dirty" protest against the British government's refusal to recognize them as political prisoners, Hunger offers shocking film fare, where contemporary parallels might easily be drawn to U.S. involvement at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

There's one scene in particular that stands out — an intellectual deconstruction of the moral rationale for continuing to offer resistance in the face of certain failure — between Sands (an amazing Michael Fassbender) and Father Dominic Moran (Liam Cunningham, who is terrific).

Margaret Thatcher comes off miserably, almost a monster, in a series of voiceovers inserted throughout the film. Made primarily for a domestic audience, tyro director Steve McQueen's Hunger is still mighty powerful film fare, emerging as another must-see at the 2008 Vancouver Film Festival.

There's more to write, but not now. We'll offer a wrap-up of 2008's Fest, at some point over the weekend, and will post over the next two days, too.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 8, 2008 11:58 PM in VIFF 2008


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