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VIFF 2011, Day One: Rough, But Rewarding, First Day


The 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival got off to a rough start first thing Thursday morning, with buzz in the line-up for tickets that the VIFF administration planned to proceed with the Opening Gala reception at the Rocky Mountaineer Station — even given that Vision Vancouver councillors had raised the profile of Rocky Mountain owner Peter Armstrong's lockout of 108 onboard attendants after unionized workers had served strike notice, turning the lockout into a hot button political issue.

When the Vancouver Film Festival Director told the Globe and Mail ...

"We had used that site several times before and when our staff went to look at it there was no picket line up," said VIFF director Alan Franey. "We have since learned there was a picket line somewhere else that day ... but I didn't learn about this issue until after working hours yesterday."

A photo from Charly Braun's Por el Camino

One can't help but think Mr. Franey, his VIFF colleagues and the VIFF Board of Directors must be woefully uninformed not to have been aware of this high profile labour dispute. To have proceeded with the Gala once VIFF was aware that Opening Gala attendees would face a decision as to whether to cross a picket line, is unconscionable, and provided terrible 'optics' for VIFF on the first day of VIFF30. The decision to proceed creates the regrettable perception that VIFF supports Rocky Mountaineer management over the locked out workers, who have walked a picket line for three months.

What a woeful misstep for VIFF officials to have forged ahead with the Gala, a decision that stains VIFF's hard fought for position in the cultural community as the première presenter of films from across the globe, most of which champion a humanity, and a solidarity with struggling peoples.

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All of the above said, Thursday, September 29th was the first day of the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, and labour disputes aside, filming viewing wise Day One of VIFF 2011 was rousing, extraordinary and just what the soul required to replenish our sense that across the globe, no matter our country of origin, we're all in this together.

VanRamblings' first film of the day was a gorgeous visual stunner ...

  • Por el Camino (Grade: B+): The world belongs to the brave, intones a character in Por el Camino, Charly Braun's rural Uruguayan travelogue cum romance, an otherwise sumptuous, delightful and warm-spirited film, devoid of politics, but with a tinge of despair, and all the better for it. A must-see, if only for the opportunity the film provides to enjoy the ravishing Uruguyan countryside. Screens at VIFF twice more: Monday, Oct 3rd, 6:20pm, Gr 7, Th3; Tuesday, Oct 4th 11:40am, Gr 7 Th 3.

  • Without (Grade: A-): An utterly original film vision juxtaposing a slow descent into madness with a new era post adolescent female sexuality, set within an unhinged, deeply unsettling and psychologically disturbing genre horror film construct, Mark Jackson's début Slamdance stunner had VanRamblings rattled for hours. Haunting, with a brave, daring central performance by newcomer, 19-year-old Joslyn Jensen, shot in a warm and vibrant digital 5D, played at Locarno to rave reception, and headed next to the 55th annual BFI London film festival. Screens at VIFF two more times: Sunday, October 2nd at 7pm, Gr 7 Th 1; Monday, October 3rd at 1:30pm, Pacific Cinémathèque.

  • Like Crazy (Grade: A-): With some of the loveliest moments we've experienced on screen this year, perhaps the most touching film of 2011, with a breakout performance by the incredibly lovely potential Oscar nominee Felicity Jones, while Like Crazy may be one of the most maddening films of the year (why can't the central couple - who are clearly in love - resolve to stay together?), Like Crazy is also beautiful, intense, passionate, nourishing to the soul, and the most romantic cinematic adventure of the year. In other words, Like Crazy delivers. We, like many others in the audience, went to the screening to cry, and did we ever. The sequence at the front door to Jones' apartment building, where Anton Yelchin and Jones touch one another through the glass, was movingly authentic, heartbreakingly tender, gorgeously realized, and left not a dry eye in the house at the Empire Granville 7. Screens once more at VIFF: Friday, Oct 7th, 11:40am, Granville 7 Th 3.

  • Tyrannosaur (Grade: A): Offering the barest chance at redemption, found in the loneliest of places, and perhaps even that rarest feature of life, happiness, all set within the grittiest and most violent déclassé UK existence imaginable, actor Paddy Considine's smashing directorial début (he also wrote the screenplay) is, as was the case with Without, which we saw earlier in the day, deeply disturbing. Tyrannosaur is also wrenching in its brutal scenes of violence, pitch black dark, redemptive, illuminating, bitterly heroic, and has at its centre two astonishing performances, by an inchoate, incendiary, lacerating Peter Mullan and a humane, uncompromising, brilliant Olivia Colman. Not an easy sit, but worth the experience. Screens only today at: 11:40am, Gr 7 Th 3.

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

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 30, 2011 8:42 AM in VIFF 2011


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