The program title reads both ways, and some of these diverse and powerful little dramas embody both qualities as they apply to their characters struggling to cope with another day—or night.
Generally considered the most important living Russian artists, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov cooperated fully on this documentary by Amei Wallach (Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress and the Tangerine). More than 20 years after fleeing Russia, the Kabakovs return to install six walk-through installations in venues throughout Moscow. "Dynamically shot… conveying the emotional urgency of the Kabakovs’ work."—The New York Times
Having just won “Citizen of the Year” in his sleepy Norwegian community, an unassuming snowplough operator (Stellan Skarsgård) now wants his pound of flesh from the vegan gangster who murdered his son. Hans Petter Moland’s bloody, farcical crime thriller is "a rip-roaring revenge tale… Moland’s tongue is planted firmly in his cheek… but there’s a transfixing solemnity underlying the black comedy."—Hollywood Reporter
It’s always a pleasure to present VIFF favourite Phil Grabsky’s (In Search of Mozart, In Search of Beethoven) latest beautifully made, exquisite-sounding inquiry into the life and music of one of classical music’s great composers. Now it is the Polish maestro’s turn… "Grabsky has astutely woven together an indelible portrait, offering us a rich and personal insight into Chopin the man and his music."—Urban Cinefile
Catherine Deneuve owns the screen in her seventh collaboration with André Téchiné (Scene of the Crime, Thieves). She plays real-life casino owner Renée Le Roux, who went up against the mob in 1970s Nice and whose daughter Agnès (rising star Adèle Haenel, also in Love at First Fight) subsequently disappeared. Guillaume Canet (Tell No One) is the shady lawyer—Agnès’ lover—who may (or may not) be involved in the disappearance.
"I grew up believing I was a boy. Maybe I was. Maybe I am." An exploration of just how fluid and subjective gender identity can be.
When reality is knocked for a loop, desperate characters are stranded in infinitely repeating realms. As limbo distorts their psyches, Isaac Ezban delivers mind-bending sci-fi that recalls Philip K. Dick while revealing a brilliant new voice in genre cinema. "One of the most intriguing Mexican films of the year… bright and concise, perfectly expressing its director’s (very human) concerns while also offering an exciting alternate world."—Twitch
After botching a romantic weekend, a luckless inventor travels back in time to try again. Instead, he initiates an inescapable circuit of events and spawns a legion of romantic rivals: other misguided versions of himself. Hugh Sullivan’s absurd, antic debut is "an exemplary time travel comedy… [It] uses the constant pileup of future and past events to enhance its humor and intelligence at once."—Indiewire
Intimate yet expansive, clear-eyed yet deeply personal, [this] marks an irresistible feature debut for writer-director Maya Forbes. Drawing on a tough but rewarding chapter of her own childhood, during which she and her sister were raised by their bipolar father while their mother went to grad school, Forbes brings a marvelous warmth and specificity to this story of a mixed-race family struggling to survive, aided considerably by one of Mark Ruffalo’s richest, most appealing performances.—Variety
For two teen girls, a clandestine night sharing secrets is transformed when there’s a power failure.
A surreal (and occasionally highly entertaining) summit unfolds when Iranian expat Mehran Tamadon convenes four Islamic religious leaders to discuss creating a more open society in his homeland. The sense of melancholic mischief here recalls Panafi’s This Is Not a Film but the concerns expressed and consequences incurred are unique to Tamadon. “An amusing game to watch…”—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Grand Prix, Cinéma du Réel 2014.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker J.P. Sniadecki travelled throughout China by train for three years, capturing—with dazzling range and astonishing intimacy—the public and private spaces, faces and thoughts of Chinese people on the move. The film’s visceral forward-charging play of light and sound is pure cinema; what its Chinese passengers have to say to us is nothing short of revelatory. Shelly Kraicer
In David Robert Mitchell’s devilishly conceived horror flick, a malevolent spirit ruthlessly stalks one victim after another. Once this spirit has you in its sights, the only permanent escape is through sexual congress—at which point your partner inherits this supernatural creeper as if it were a particularly virulent form of STD. "Tender, remarkably ingenious and scalp-pricklingly scary.”—Daily Telegraph
The director of Western Movie and Two Boys and a Sheep returns with a sardonic tale of "funeral training" and a girl whose favourite colour is blue. Tony Rayns