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VIFF 2017: Entering the Final Week of Our Film Festival

2017 Vancouver International Film Festival, viff, final week, films to see

Only seven days to go, including today, before the glorious 36th annual Vancouver International Film Festival fades into warm memory.

There are a great many VIFF films that will make their début this coming week, as well as VIFF films that will screen for a final time — films all that are deserving of your time, attention, dollars and the inevitable 'you've got to arrive an hour early' interminable (yet, friendly, warm and welcoming) ticketholder and passholder line-ups outside the various VIFF venues.

For instance ...

Loveless, (Grade: A+): The new masterwork from Russian director Andrei Zvyagintsev (Leviathan) was both the critical favourite at Cannes this year (there was a broad critical consensus that Loveless would win the Palme d'Or, which it didn't do — instead, the execrable The Square garnered that undeserved honour), and the winner of Cannes' Grand Prix award.

A withering, pitiless and devastating indictment of contemporary Russia (who knows why Russia has chosen Loveless as their Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee), as potent a cinematic exploration of anomie as you're ever likely to witness on screen, Zvyagintsev's Loveless emerges as nothing short of a masterpiece, not simply an apocalyptic study of a failed marriage and a failed system of justice involving the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy — about which not one character on screen cares a wit — set in the midst of a loveless modern Russia where residents exist at the mercy of implacable forces, Loveless' pristine, punishing and purgatorial narrative offers with crystalline perfection viscerally intelligent and merciless filmmaking, every shot chosen with care, the bitter stillness of the near black-and-white cinematography capturing lives in disintegration, as harrowing a film as will be released in 2017. All of which makes Loveless a VIFF 2017 must-see. There's one final VIFF screening of Loveless: Monday, Oct. 9th, 9:15pm, Vancouver Playhouse.

3-year-old Paula Robles and 6-year-old Laia Artiga, the stars of Carla Simón's Summer 19933-year-old Paula Robles & 6-year-old Laia Artiga, star in Carla Simón's Summer 1993

Summer 1993, (Grade: A): Although it has completed its run at VIFF 2017, VanRamblings wishes to have recorded for posterity that Spain's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entry, Summer 1993, has emerged as our favourite film at VIFF this year. A polar opposite to the pitiless Loveless, Carla Simón's tender autobiographical directorial début is the single most humane childhood drama to grace the screen in years, the performance of 3-year-old Paula Robles the film's beating heart, who throughout embodies a sense of dread for what might, and does occur — which is to say that Anna is twice placed in harm's way, her life force in jeopardy — perhaps at the hand of 6-year-old Frida, as Frida attempts to recover from the devastating loss of her parents, the answer to all questions coming in the film's devastating final scene, which transforms Frida from a hard-to-read, enigmatic figure into a profoundly sympathetic figure, the film's final scene providing context for all that has occurred before, with an overwhelming sense of melancholy, yet transformative and even hopeful, every person in the audience with whom VanRamblings took in the screening of the delicate Summer 1993 on the floor, inconsolable, unable to catch their breath.

The two most moving and humane migrant dramas screening at VIFF ...

Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's Immensely Moving A Season in France

A Season in France, (Grade: A). Set to screen one more time, this upcoming Tuesday, October 10th, 1:30pm at Cineplex International Village's Cinema 9, Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's deeply felt, dark yet profoundly compassionate tale of illegal immigrants struggling in the lower depths of Paris relates the heartbreaking story of two brothers who attempt to make a new life in a cold, grey, uninviting and unwelcoming France, their futures at the mercy of bureaucrats, their anguish portrayed with the sombre eloquence of humanity, the story centering around schoolteacher Abbas (Eriq Ebouaney) who arrived from his war-torn city of Bangui (in the Central African Republic) a year previous and who now works a menial job selling vegetables while his two young children (an exquisitely sympathetic Aalayna Lys, and Ibrahim Burama Darboe) always on the move while hoping to stay enrolled in school. The film's last, stark images are sure to prick the conscience of anyone who takes in a screening of this immensely touching, punch-in-the-gut proletarian tragedy.

Aki Kaurismäki's droll, deadpan migrant drama The Other Side of Hope

The Other Side of Hope, (Grade: A). Set to screen two more times: this upcoming Monday, October 9th, 6:30pm at The Centre, and on VIFF's last day, Friday, October 13th, 6:30pm at SFU Goldcorp, master Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki's droll, deadpan migrant drama marks a nostalgic and ever-so-cheeky return to form, in a film that combines poignancy, breezy laughter and expansive humanism in relating the story of Khaled (Sherwan Haji), an illegal migrant who has escaped the rubble of Aleppo for Helsinki. A gruff, moral, complex, at times hilarious, engaging and near visionary fairy tale, The Other Side of Hope is well worth a VIFF screening.

Full VanRamblings coverage of VIFF 2017 is available by clicking here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at October 7, 2017 4:01 PM in VIFF 2017


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