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VIFF 2011, Day 7: A Wrenching Day Emotionally At VIFF30

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Showers cascaded down from the heavens on a rain-drenched Day 7 of VIFF, providing cover for tear-streaked Festival-goers moved by the hopeful but melancholy fare on offer at our Vancouver International Film Festival.

As for VanRamblings, we bawled our eyes out at the screening of Wish Me Away, the powerfully affecting Chely Wright documentary, and were no less moved by programmer Shelly Kraicer's emotionally involving tryptych of first class Hong Kong-based short films, 1 + 1 +1= 3 stories by young women, and found ourselves emotionally wrung out at an evening screening of Yoav Potash's extraordinarily inspiring Crime After Crime.

All and all, an emotionally plangent series of Wednesday screenings.

  • Wish Me Away (Grade: A-): Another remarkably poignant, emotionally wrenching VIFF doc, Wish Me Away has a bit of trouble finding its rhythm in the early going, but when it does ... wow, wow, wow. We were on the floor! What an incredibly powerful non-fiction document. Tracking the process leading up to 38-year-old Nashville star Chely Wright's contentious public announcement to fans of her homosexuality, Wish Me Away emerges as the most candid, intimate and inspiring documentary we've screened at VIFF30. A stunning achievement by documentarians Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf, this is an absolute must-see VIFF film. Screens for a final time: Wednesday, October 12th, 11am, Granville 7, Theatre 2. You won't want to miss this one.

    1 + 1, Hong Kong Fresh Wave Best Film

  • 1 + 1 +1= 3 stories by young women (Grade: A-): The first of the three stories is titled 1 + 1, director Mo Lai Yan-chi's attention focused on 4-year-old Kan Wing Yee (in a remarkably natural performance), as the camera follows a grandfather-daughter duo through their about to be developed neighbourhood. A fresh, charming, engaging and utterly original film, and one not to be missed. One of VanRamblings' Festival favourites. Sad to say, we were not as enamoured of the middle, animated offering, but the third film in the shorts series, the exquisite Beside(s), Happiness, is this Festival's love story par excellence (which is going some when you consider Like Crazy is also playing at our Festival). VanRamblings is truly, madly, deeply in love with the 28-year-old actress who plays the salesgirl in Heiward Mak's incredibly well-made pop-romance confection, honest, gorgeous and entirely involving. We were thrilled. Screens for a final time tonight (Thursday), at: Pacific Cinémathèque, 9:15pm. Not to be missed; you oughta go.

  • Crime After Crime (Grade: A-): An unforgettable and terrifically affecting film, director Yoav Potash's superbly made, heartbreaking and all out inspiring film about the perseverance of the human heart ostensibly relates the story of Deborah Peagler, who at age 15 began dating Oliver Wilson, a charismatic man who it turns out, was also a psychopath with a very dark side: for years Wilson forced Peagler to prostitute herself, all while routinely beating her and molesting her daughter. At the urging of her mother, a teenage Peagler sought protection form the neighbourhood's Crips gang, who killed Wilson. In one of the gravest miscarriages of justice in Los Angeles County history, Peagler was forced to plead guilty to a first-degree murder charge, and life in prison, in exchange for withdrawal of the death penalty. Tracking an indomitable Peagler and her legal defense team, attorneys Nadia Costa and Joshua Safran — who spent years working on Peagler's case pro bono, this is tour-de-force advocacy documentary filmmaking, and one of the highlights of the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival. Not to be missed. Screens for a final time, this next: Tuesday, October 11th, 2:50pm, Empire Granville 7, Theatre 1.

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Notes and programme updates: Hope you're keeping yourself apprised of the programme updates, as the Festival sets about to add screenings of popular films. For instance, Bullhead, screening at the Empire Granville 7 at 10:30 this morning, is not to be missed.

Otherwise, we ran into Festival director Alan Franey again on Wednesday, sporting a warm and near beatific smile, as we exchanged greetings (migawd, given how busy Alan is, it is both a wonder and a pleasure to see him smiling). Ran into John Skibinski again, who told us he was decidedly unthrilled with Wim Wenders' Pina 3D ("was 3D really necessary?").

Showbiz Shayne continues to wimp out of the late evening screenings ("I'm 67! Leave me alone Mr. Know It All!). Can't wait for the screening of Martha Marcy May Marlene next Tuesday night at 9pm. The problem with the heating in Empire Granville 7, Theatre 3, continues (it's a sauna in there), much to the chagrin of the VIFF theatre manager, as well as the patrons.

VanRamblings lost our Media Pass on Wednesday, and was downright verklempt for the three hours it was missing. VIFF's and Pacific Cinémathèque's spectacularly wonderful Sue Cormier (one of our very favourite Festival people) came to the rescue, returning our 'mislaid' pass, and a very nicely folded sweater we'd left behind after the screening of 1 + 1 +1= 3 stories by young women. We were concerned that Alan would scold us (not that Alan ever scolds, but still) for losing our pass, had Sue not come to the rescue (altho' we did feel like a bit of an idiot). All ended well, though, and we even made it with time to spare to our 6:15 screening of what emerged as one of our Festival favourites, Crime After Crime.

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

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 6, 2011 8:12 AM in VIFF 2011


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