Based on the life of French musician Raymond Borremans, who moved to West Africa in the 20s and tried to compile an encyclopedia of The Ivory Coast (he got to "N" before dying in 1988), this poetic semi-documentary is beautiful and revelatory. Nigerian novelist/poet Ben Okri co-wrote the script, director Peter Krüger authored the striking visual style and the great Michael Lonsdale embodies Borremans’ spirit.
Twenty years ago, Nas released Illmatic and redefined the sound of hip-hop with the album’s intricate jazz-infused rhythms and blunt-force rhymes. In his directorial debut, graffiti artist One9 looks back at the seminal record’s creation, as well as the environment and experiences that contributed to it. “It’s impossible not to get swept up in the energy of the era.”—Indiewire
Master documentarian Frederick Wiseman continues his supremely intelligent examinations of institutions with this probing, beautifully made look at one of the west’s great bastions of culture—Britain’s National Gallery. Key staff and ongoing problems and controversies are all quietly examined, and the result is "a truly inspiring piece of filmmaking [that is] universally recognisable as a great, great film."—Telegraph
Ricardo Silva’s controversial, disturbing and unclassifiable film features interviews (and, be warned, much more) with various marginal characters existing on the fringes of Tijuana, Mexico. "[An] utterly transfixing fiction-documentary hybrid… The total lack of delineation between staging and real life [adds] an additional layer of fascination… Mesmerizing…"—Slant. Winner, Cineasti del presente Award, Locarno 2014.
Completed just prior to Mandela’s passing, Khalo Matabane’s deeply personal documentary finds the celebrated filmmaker wrestling with his conflicted feelings concerning the icon’s life and legacy. Posing provocative questions to world leaders, South Africans and himself, he foregoes nostalgia and assembles “a wonderful exploration of a complicated man and even more complicated issues that feels like vital viewing.”—POV Magazine. Winner, Special Jury Prize, IDFA 2013.
The frankness of the title reflects Sacha Polak’s uncommon candour in this reflective, unsentimental and incredibly personal documentary. Having inherited a rare cancer gene, is a preventative mastectomy the answer for Polak? What if it’s all for naught and cancer never appears? Does such surgery diminish or alter one’s femininity? Nearing the age at which cancer tragically claimed her mother, the filmmaker urgently searches for answers.
If newspapers are dying, this could be their last gasp. Starring The Japan Times, USA Today and the late, lamented International Herald Tribune, amongst others. Tony Rayns
Trained in photography in New York, Hayakawa put her filmmaking career on hiatus ten years ago. This excellent "comeback" film centres on the moment that a young woman (who has grown up thinking she’s an orphan) learns for the first time to see… and to start living. Tony Rayns
Arif’s ex-girlfriend won’t return his calls or texts but he has a plan to try and win her over.
Dubliner Christina Noble (Deirdre O’Kane) travels to Ho Chi Minh City to better the lot of street children and war orphans. Is the fighting spirit coursing through her Irish veins a match for widespread corruption and indifference? Stephen Bradley offers "a joyful and rousing affirmation of the human spirit that will resound widely."—Hollywood Reporter. Winner, Audience Award: Best World Narrative Feature, Nashville 2014.
VIFF has screened many of Jung Yoonsuk’s short films, so the global success of his feature-length essay is no surprise to us. He starts from some notorious, nihilistic murders in the early 1990s, then opens out to examine the spaces between the death penalty and murder, between negligence and culpability, between dictatorship and freedom. A dynamic blow to Korea’s body politic! Tony Rayns
A woman confronts her cousin, who’s been telling people that she isn’t actually First Nations.
We’re in 2030, when rising sea levels have flooded much of the Mekong delta. A husband and wife live in a hut on stilts above their former land, subsisting on fish and seafood. Nearby, a slightly sinister corporation experiments with salt-water hydroponics. The husband dies mysteriously… Vietnam’s first sci-fi eco-thriller is a real eye-opener. Tony Rayns