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VIFF 2011

October 21, 2011

VIFF 2011: The Wrap Up Post, Audience Award Winners & More

2011 Vancouver International Film Festival, Audience winners

With the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival fading into memory, today's post constitutes VanRamblings' final entry covering the 30th annual VIFF, the focus on the films which garnered an overall audience appreciation, based on the many thousands of ballots cast, according to meticulous VIFF calculation the top 10% of films screened at VIFF, receiving an audience score of between 4.4 and 5.0, for 28 films in total.

That many of VanRamblings' favourites — including Corpo Celeste, My Little Princess, Wish Me Away, Michael, Mitsuko Delivers, Tyrannosaur, Without, The Singing City, The Jewel, Like Crazy, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Restoration, among many, many others, did not make the final 'audience favourites' list just goes to show how subjective is the experience of filmgoers seeking a window on the world through their attendance at VIFF.

Here, then, are the top VIFF 2011 vote-getters, in alphabetical order ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:24 PM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 15, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 16: Awards to Films Screened at VIFF30


The 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped its 16-day run last evening, Friday, October 14th. The winners of two juried awards, and five audience awards were announced prior to the screening of The Kid With a Bike, the Cannes' Palme D'or winner from the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, which screened at the Vogue theatre Friday night.

Without further ado, here then are the 2011 VIFF award winners ...

Nuit #1's Dimitri Storoge and Catherine De Léan

Nuit #1's Dimitri Storoge and Catherine De Léan star in Anne Émond's VIFF award winner

The Canadian Images jury announced two awards. The jury included Beth Barrett, programme manager of the Seattle International Film Festival; photographer, filmmaker and educator Dana Claxton; and filmmaker and chinlone (the national sport of Myanmar) expert Greg Hamilton.

First up, the Shaw Media Award for Best Canadian Feature Film for feature directorial début - and its $20,000 cash prize - went to Anne Émond of Québec for Nuit #1. The jury selected Émond's film "for its unflinching intimacy and atmosphere of containment with candour and lucidity."

Guy Édoin's Wetlands received an honourable mention for Canadian feature film, the Canadian Images jury noting that VIFF presents one of the largest showcases of Québec films outside of Québec. Canadian Images jury member Dana Claxton presented a $2,000 cash prize to Ontario's Andrew Cividino of Ontario for We Ate The Children Last, praising the film's director for Children's "creation of an apocalyptic, yet fully believable world."

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:26 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 14, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 15: Where To Go For Film News Post Festival


The 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival wraps today, and weary filmgoers are preparing to return to their lives, once again assuming the mantle of responsibility that comes with being a conscious person — living life with a purpose — in our troubled, and often troubling, times.

As it happens, there are a handful of bloggers who live for film just as much as the most diehard VIFF patron. These bloggers perform no small feat: rewarding employment for themselves arising from the uncommonly acute, and for those of us who count themselves as fans of their work, the much appreciated decision to dedicate a significant portion of their lives to coverage of film from across the globe. Insightful, informative coverage.

Emerging each autumn, leading up to the nominating and awarding of the Oscars these bloggers not only write about film passionately — having attended many, many of the critically most audacious film festivals held in far-flung places across our globe — they also become the 'experts' in the burgeoning field of Oscar prediction, setting the agenda for who and what will be nominated. These bloggers assume the bully pulpit of film coverage.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:47 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 13, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 14: Memories of the 30th Vancouver Film Festival

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:06 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 12, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 13: An Enlightening Darkness Settles In Once Again


VanRamblings started our Festival darkWithout, Tyrannosaur, and Michael — two weeks back, and we're ending our Festival the same way: with Pure on Thursday night, and perhaps the darkest of the dark night of the soul film at this year's VIFF, Sean Durkin's Sundance psychological thriller, Martha Marcy May Marlene, which we saw Tuesday evening.

Alicia Vikander, Eva Ionesco, Elizabeth Olsen

Stunning début performances in 2011, from Alicia Vikander, Eva Ionesco, & Elizabeth Olsen

At the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, the word audacious might appropriately be employed in discussion of some aspect of a film screening at VIFF30 merely three times ...

  • Alicia Vikander's stunner of a performance, dark, disturbing and utterly humane, if ever so twisted in the realization of such, in Pure;

  • Eva Ionesco's enthralling début film, My Little Princess, this film more than any other screening at the Festival employing every key element of the craft of filmmaking — sound, colour, words and feeling — in what has to be considered the cinematic and artistic triumph of the year; and

  • Elizabeth Olson who, as in the case of Vikander and Ionesco, finds herself at the centre of a film, Martha Marcy May Marlene, in which she surrenders deeply and hauntingly to the inexorable passage through the hours of her existence, and whatever horror may come from the move forward through her shuddering life.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:24 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 11, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 12: As The Festival Wends Its Way To a Close


VanRamblings is, this week, ramping down our coverage of the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, as the Festival sets about to screen its final film this Friday evening, October 14th. And, of course, that will be it for VIFF30, resplendent with cinema from across the globe, 375 features and 100 more short films having screened at five venues across Vancouver.

Still, there are a few more films we'd like to write about, beginning with ...

  • My Little Princess (Grade: A): The most audacious directorial début we can recall in recent memory, Eva Ionesco's trenchant, autobiographical film offers a disturbing, accomplished and authentic tale of Ionesco's unconventional relationship with her mother, Irina, in the most fully realized and beautifully sweeping cinematic fever dream of a film we've screened at the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival.

    In the 1970s, Ionesco's mother rocked the Paris art world with photographs of her naked, pre-pubescent daughter. In interviews, Ionesco recalls that her mother began posing her provocatively when she was just four. In My Little Princess, Violetta (played with exquisite perfection by newcomer Anamaria Vartolomei, in the most auspicious and moving début performance we've seen at VIFF 30) is ten when her wildly unconventional mother, Hanna (Isabelle Huppert), takes the fun of dressing up in old clothes to a new and decidedly troubling level.

    As Irina increasingly sexualizes her daughter, Violetta turns into a Lolita figure, standing forlornly in the school playground in tight hot pants, swaggering into the classroom in full make-up and wearing clothes that could only be deemed inappropriate. Twelve-year-old Vartolomei is the saving grace of the film, as she gives a tough, moral, centered and very strong performance, always true to herself and to the character she is portraying, lending the film an integrity that otherwise may have not been present, in the process taking the film from what might have been considered demeaning and exploitative film fare to the realm of art.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 6:29 PM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 10, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 11: A Thanksgiving Tribute to the VIFF Staff

Brie Koniczek & Maja Klempner, VIFF front line staff
Brie Koniczek & Maja Klempner, VIFF exhibitions staff, out front of the Empire Granville 7

Although VanRamblings continues to harbour much affection for volunteer co-ordinator Iulia Manolescu, who during this Festival has taken on the venue management responsibility for the Granville 7's Theatre 5, we have this year made daily contact with, and come to depend on, Brie Koniczek and Maja Klempner — who, no matter what time of the day or night — may be found at their post near the entrance to the Empire Granville 7 facilitating the best possible Vancouver International Film Festival for you.

Brie and Maja have made VanRamblings' Festival in 2011. No matter that we might feel the tribulations arising from a lack of sleep defined by a tendency towards a confused state of mind, or when at some point in the day we find ourselves in a curmudgeonly mood, out front of the Empire Granville 7, you will find Maja, her face aglow with that warm, wonderful, and welcoming smile, so beatific that any patron's concerns would simply melt away. Brie, as is the case with Maja, simply exudes a hardy competence and, as you can see in the photo above, her smile is not only welcoming, but calming. Brie co-ordinates the passholders' ticket table, which in these latter days has come to run with a sense of systemic élan. In 2011, Brie is the heart of the exhibitions staff, who possesses an administrative skill par excellence (she's sees everything out front of the Granville 7 - lines moving in efficiently and well? you can thank Brie).

VanRamblings is grateful to Brie and Maja. Thank you so very, very much!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:17 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 9, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 10: Worshipping at the Church of Cinema


Imagine yourself on a Sunday morning at the 31st annual Vancouver International Film Festival. You've just walked into the Empire Granville 7, where you've been greeted by one of the volunteers, and are then ushered into a dark room with seats all facing forward. You feel reverent.

You are about to worship at the 'church of cinema'.

One hundred years on, global cinema has arrived as a form of transcendence, for many replacing the once venerated position held by the institutional church. Think about the similarities: churches and the cinema are both large buildings built in the public space. Both have signage out front indicating what is about to occur inside.

As physical structures, the church and the cinema create a sense of sacred space with their high ceilings, long aisles running the length of the darkened rooms inside, the use of dim lighting, the sweeping curvature of the walls, and the use of curtains to enhance the sacredness of the experience.

In the church of the cinema we take communion not with bread and wine, but with the ritualistic consumption of our favourite snack.

Consider if you will, the memorable moment when you enter the auditorium to find your perfect viewing angle, allowing you to sit back, relax and enjoy. Although you may not receive absolution at the cinema, there is the two-hour reprieve from the burden of your daily life.

As the lights are dimmed, the service begins: The seating, and the opening introduction constitute a liturgy for one and all, not dissimilar to the welcoming ritual that occurs in a church service prior to the sermon. If you are like most people, you obey an unwritten rule that requires you to be in place in time for either the singing (if you're in church) or the introduction of a film by a Vancouver Film Festival theatre manager. And, you remain silent while in the theatre, focused on all that unfolds before you.

There is, too, the notion that as the film limns your unconscious mind you are being transported, elevated in some meaningful way, left in awe in the presence of a work of film art.

What we want from church is often, these days, more of what we receive from the cinema on offer at the Vancouver International Film Festival: the vague, unshakable notion that the eternal and invisible world is all around us, transporting us as we sit in rapt attention. We experience the progress and acceleration of time, as we see life begin, progress, and find redemption. All within two hours. The films at the Vancouver International Film Festival constitute much more than entertainment; each film is a thoughtful meditation on our place in society and our purpose in life.

As a film draws to a close, just as is the case following a sermon we might hear in church, our desire is to set about to discuss with friends that which we have just experienced. Phrases and moments, transcending current frustrations with a new resolve, all in response to a line of dialogue or an image on the screen that we have now incorporated into how we will lead our life going forward.

In the holy trinity of meaning, cinema reigns supreme, the personal altar of our home theatres placing a distant second place, the city providing the physical proof of the reality the other two point to, oriented towards the satisfaction of the devout cinemagoer's theology.

Throughout the centuries we have sought to find meaning through manifest ritual and symbolism. If, as in the scene from American Beauty, a plastic bag sailing in the breeze is an intimation of immortality then there is, perhaps, something for us to consider respecting the difference between art as diversion and art in our lives as a symbolic representation of an awakened mindfulness, allowing us to transcend the troubles of our lives.

For those who attend the Vancouver International Film Festival, cinema has emerged as that place where we might experience life in the form of parable, within a safe and welcoming environment, that place where we are able to become vulnerable and open, hungry to make sense of our lives. Cinema delivers for many of us access to the new spiritualism, the place where we experience not merely film, but language, memory, art, love, death and, perhaps even, spiritual transcendence.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:33 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 8, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 9: Catching Up With VIFF Coverage Elsewhere

VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, click on header for today's VIFF films

As we do each year just past the midway point of the Vancouver Film Festival, in today's VanRamblings' VIFF post we'll take a look at what others are saying, and have written, about the 30th annual VIFF.

Of course, we'll take a glancing blow at a few films, offering comment on a selection of VIFF offerings. VanRamblings has tried our best to dampen our oft-present curmudgeonly quality in, thus far, recording pretty much only positive commentary in our capsule reviews. Hopefully, we won't stray too far from our mandate to remain positive in today's VIFF posting.

First up, below, two films we could easily have done without seeing, and not have affected the quality of our existence on this Earth. Note should be made, as we have written previously, that what we are about to write in today's post constitutes our personal opinion on the various films under consideration, and in no way should be viewed as the definitive opinion of the worth, or lack thereof, of these VIFF film offerings.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 12:08 PM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 7, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 8: Week Two of the Festival Officially Underway


Heading into Week Two of the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, those folks who are not die-hard Festival-goers (y'know, the type: VIFFers who attend 4 - 6 films each day) want to know: what are the buzz films at VIFF30, what are the must-sees in the final week of the Festival, on which films should I plunk down my hard earned cash to purchase tickets?

Lucky, lucky you: we have a few answers for you. Hang on to your hats for Part 1 of Week Two's buzziest, ya better not miss 'em, VIFF films to see!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:56 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 6, 2011

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

Keep the VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Vibrant, $30 for 30 years

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.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:12 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 5, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 6: In Which We Recover From Long Festival Days


The rain fell throughout much of Day 6 of the Vancouver International Film Festival, festival patrons a little waterlogged as a consequence, choosing in many instances to remain inside the Empire Granville 7 for one screening after another for some of the most challenging cinematic fare to come to our shores this year. We all, each and every one of us, love our Festival.

The 'problem' with the early morning passholder ticket line up (which we mentioned yesterday) was resolved on Tuesday, the line moving more quickly than many of us could recall had ever been the case. Thank god for small favours, and for the opportunity to get out of the rain, was the grateful morning chant among the hardy 300 in Tuesday's ticket line-up.

According to our friend John Skibinski, the digital cinema projection problems in the Empire Granville 7's Theatre 7 were not resolved, or at least weren't resolved for the 1 p.m. screening of Almayer's Folly; patrons had to put up with a muddy DVD 'print' instead. More work for VIFF tech.

Final note: Due to popular demand, VIFF has added a 10:30 a.m. screening of Bullhead, tomorrow (Thursday), October 6th at the Granville 7.

Tuesday we took a bit of break from reclaiming our humanity, the theme of VanRamblings' 2011 film festival, and caught only an evening screening at the Vogue Theatre. We've caught other films in previous days, though, that we haven't recorded reviews of on our site, so that's what we'll publish below today: three capsule film reviews, two of which (docs) are splendid.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:23 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 4, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 5: A Revelatory Day at The Vancouver Film Festival


By far, VanRamblings' four favourite films so far are Pure, The Sandman, Corpo Celeste and Michael. Utterly original directorial visions, with revelatory performances, fully realized creations, disturbing, humane, so challenging they leave you unsettled, rattled to your core, these four films are in a category by themselves, each of the films tour-de-force cinema.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:31 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 3, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day 4: And The Rains Fell From The Heavens

While waiting on Howe Street for the bus to take us home after another 5 film day
at the Vancouver Film Festival, we were treated to an impromptu Robson Square concert

Since the outset of the Festival, the rains have fallen from the skies only once, and then only briefly. Sunday didn't bring a deluge, but rather a constant smattering of cooling autumn rain, dampening the sidewalks and those of us standing in line, but hardly dampening the spirits of the thousands of Festival-goers who are attending VIFF30 each and every day.

Day Four of VanRamblings' Festival was yet another day of spectacular filmgoing, where we were turned on our head over and over again.

Bullhead was a revelation, Headshot was a tour-de-force, Restoration was moving and one of our Vancouver Film Festival favourites so far, Innocence was twisty and turning while emerging with a sense of justice, and Granito: How to Nail a Dictator may be one of the most heartrending documentaries we've ever screened (the interview with the daughter of a one of los desaparecidos, now a lawyer, is the single most powerful scene we've ever encountered in a non-fiction film). All and all, a great day at our Film Fest.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:23 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 2, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day Three: A Quietening, Warming Day at the Festival

Granville Street at night, 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival

Truth to tell, VanRamblings finds ourselves a bit tuckered, what with the five movie a day regimen, so we took it a little easier on ourselves on Saturday, arising a bit later than we usually do, enjoying a good breakfast at home, and thereafter meeting with the inimitable Showbiz Shayne in the languorous ticket line-up outside VIFF's 'home', the Empire Granville 7.

On the schedule, and screened, here are today's capsule film reviews:

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:31 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

October 1, 2011

VIFF 2011, Day Two: 30th Annual VIFF Off To A 'Disturbing' Start


From here on in, VanRamblings and Showbiz Shayne will schedule more tried-and-true Festival fare, and although we'll continue to screen the 'darker' films on offer at VIFF30, to some greater degree we'll turn our attention to more of VIFF's insightful 'cinema of the world' family dramas, or the many warm and irresistibly humane black comedies, the challenging noir thrillers, or the sumptuous South American 'travelogue' films.

Two days into VIFF30, where 'deeply disturbing' has turned into an early 'theme' of the 30th VIFF for Mr. Know It All and Showbiz Shayne, we are ready for a break from violence, anomie and the psychologically wounding, physically devastating film fare that has defined our Festival thus far.

Still, it hasn't all been devastating, deeply disturbing pitch black dark fare:

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 7:37 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

September 30, 2011

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."

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:42 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

September 29, 2011

VIFF 2011: The New York Film Festival Brought To Vancouver

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL, with 17 of 22 NYFF films playing in Vancouver at VIFF

Wish you could hop on a plane to Gotham City so you could catch the heavily juried and prestigious 49th annual New York Film Festival?

Have we got a treat for you. You can have your own NYFF here in town!

Yes, this year, of the 22 films playing this early autumn at the New York Film Festival (which, by the way, kicks off tomorrow), an unprecedented 17 of those films will screen at the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival! Wondering why we didn't include the award-winning films below in our postings the past couple of days, well here's your answer: we held off til today to bring you this surprise, a listing of NYFFestival films at VIFF30.

Without further ado, then, here's what's playing at VIFF and the NYFF.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 8:01 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

September 28, 2011

VIFF 2011: Award-Winning & Festival Buzz Films, Part Two


We're only hours away from the kick-off to the 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival, 16 days of cinematic glory on our west coast shores, a time when we might immerse ourselves in the best of film from across the globe. With so much to see, how to make sense of the tsunami of cinema that will wash over us between now and Friday October 14th?

Yesterday, we provided some insight into 16 of the films that will screen at VIFF30, the work of talented filmmakers that have garnered accolades and awards on some far distant shore, as well as those buzz films that taken the critics by storm. Today we present 16 more films for your cinematic edification, replete with linked reviews and insight. So, here we go ...

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 9:49 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

September 27, 2011

VIFF 2011: The Award-Winning & Buzz Films at This Year's Festival


With 275 feature films and more than 100 'shorts' from 75 countries across the globe from which to choose, how does the avid VIFF festival attendee know which films to choose for an optimal Festival-going experience?

Of course, each individual festival-goer attending this year's 30th annual Vancouver International Film Festival establish criteria for determining their personal Festival programme, be it Asian film, U.S. independents, European cinema, films from the Middle East, films with a focus on musical artists, or hard-hitting documentaries. Quite simply, there's a panoply of films from which to choose. How do you programme your own Festival attendance?

To provide assistance in the 'chore of choosing' VanRamblings will provide links, and external reviews, to the 35 or so buzz films arriving at VIFF30, from the award-winning films to the films which have enraptured the critics at other Festivals. Here we go with Part One. Hang on to your hats!

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 10:24 AM | Permalink | VIFF 2011

September 26, 2011

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.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at 3:18 PM | Permalink | VIFF 2011


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