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VIFF 2014: Opening Night Gala, Film, and the Festival is Underway

Waiting for August, the Hot Doc award-winning film by Teodora Ana Mihai

The first couple of days of the wonderfully overcast, and cooly-inviting 33rd annual Vancouver International Film Festival brought everything and more that had been promised: great cinema of consequence offering cinephiles a window on the world, seamless entry into the cinemas, a couple of glitches here and there (the subtitles for the films screening at The Rio on Friday night were out of sync), the well-attended Opening Gala screening of Jean-Marc Vallée's Wild (rumour has it that Matt Damon was in the audience) going off without a hitch — screening at 3pm today for a final time at The Centre for the Performing Arts on Homer Street, plus there've been enthusiastic conversations galore while waiting in the lineups full of tales of shared memories and enthusiastic analyses of the films on offer.

Waiting for August (Grade: A+): My favourite film the first couple of days at VIFF was the very first film I saw at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning at The Cinematheque, Waiting for August — Teodora Ana Mihai's Karlovy Vary / Hot Doc's Fest best doc winner, the intimate, wondrous, fabulously humane slow-boil Romanian social non-fiction feature about a 15-year-old girl who cares for her six siblings while her mother earns a living abroad.

At its essence, Waiting for August is a film that examines the Christian doctrine of original sin, and the true nature of man. The film poses the question: will the seven young children left to fend for themselves and their own devices become feral, or will a finer sense of humanity and the collective interests of the family predominate? The defining characteristics of the nature of the siblings' relationship that emerges? Love, and honour.

Alone in the world except for one another, the three girls and four boys in the family arise each morning for breakfast, attend to their hygiene, dress well in togs sent to them from their mother living in Italy, and attend school (except the youngest) — where they do well, socialize and have friends — all set amidst the safe and caring community of Bacau, within one of the Romania's poorest provinces. Sleeping collectively on a large mattress placed on the floor, the bodies of the children tangled together possesses the innocence of puppies all snuggled together in blissful repose.

An incredibly lovely film full of hope and charity, there are two more screenings of Waiting for August: today at 4pm, and next Thursday, Oct. 2nd at 9:15pm, both times at Cineplex International Village, Cinema 8.

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VanRamblings is on record as liking this year's free, glossy film fest guide.

Despite VanRamblings' salutary appreciation of the guide: a smattering of folks (some getting on in years, which is a category — one supposes — into which we would seem to fit these days) much preferred last year's full catalogue "book", with its larger print, more expansive content, and fuller presentation of information on the 350+ films screening at VIFF.

Here's what Curtis Woloschuk, Editor and Publications Co-ordinator for this year's VIFF programme had to say on the matter, when we approached him on Thursday: last year's VIFF programme catalogue did not sell well enough to warrant this year's publication of another VIFF programming "book" — research indicated, as well, that most patrons depended on the free VIFF guide that was distributed three weeks prior to fest kick-off. Note should be made that the type font in this year's programming guide, Curtis told us, is a font-size larger than last year's free preview guide.

Still and all, Curtis took note of the concern, and committed to us that at fest's end, as senior festival staff are conducting their annual administrative review of the festival, the issue raised above will be given due consideration.

Some pics of VIFF's 2014 Opening Gala, + VIFF videos
viff-gala1.jpgFilmmakers Laurence Keane, Elvira Lount, and Sandy Wilson, with VIFF's Alan Franey

VIFF's Alan Franey and Jacqueline Dupuis, with VIFF co-founder, Leonard ScheinVIFF's Alan Franey and Jacqueline Dupuis, with VIFF co-founder, Leonard Schein

viff-gala3.jpgHey's it opening night at the 33rd annual glorious Vancouver International Film Festival

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Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 27, 2014 2:27 AM in VIFF 2014

   

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