Film Festival Guest In Attendance
Providing a quality viewing environment that puts films first, The Vancouver International Film Festival is fortunate to host many filmmakers, distributors, international film critics and special guests from around the world. Many of our guests participate in dynamic Q & A sessions following screenings.
Keep your eye out for our "Guest In Attendance" logo on our print ads, web site and e-newsletters. Also, we'll post the list of visiting guests on this page (subject to change).
Graduate of the School of Art Media Communication from the University of the Arts (ISA) in Havana, Cuba. She works as Production Manager in short documentaries, Monday Club (2012) which participated in the Muestra Joven in Havana, and short films The Salvation (2013) and Alejandrito and the Boogieman (2014) which participated in the Warsaw International Film Festival and Flickers: Rhode Island International Film Festival and other international festivals. She was also Producer of the short film Red Moscow (2013).
Khadija Al Salami, Yemen’s first female filmmaker and producer, was born in Sana’a. Forced into child marriage at the age of 11, she rebelled against tribal and family values, daring to leave her husband and seek a divorce. With determination and courage, Khadija Al Salami gained her personal freedom and changed her fate. At the age of 16, she received a grant that allowed her to follow her dreams by studying in the US where she ultimately completed a master’s dregree in film production and directing.
She directed more than 25 documentaries, most of which deal with the roles of women and young girls in contemporary Yemen.
In 2009, Khadija Al Salami published the bestseller « Nojood » and made it into this stuning fiction film awarded as the Best Fiction Feature at the Dubai Film Festival 2014.
Rami Alayan is a screenwriter and designer. His work centers on designing visual, narrative and interactive experiences that captivate audiences. Alayan’s directorial debut was Private Sun, which was selected to over 70 festivals and won 9 awards including 5 for best short. He is the co-writer, producer and art director of the feature film, Love Theft and Other Entanglements, which world premiered at the Berlinale Panorama 2015.
Born in Medellin, Colombia, Pablo Alvarez-Mesa moved to Vancouver, BC in 2001 to pursue a BFA in Film Production at Simon Fraser University. His films have since played at international film festivals including Rotterdam, Sheffield, Hot Docs, AFI Silverdocs, and RIDM. His credits include Presidio Modelo (Best Experimental Student Film Award, 2009 Montreal Film Festival); Jelena’s Song (Prix Pierre et Yolande Perrault, Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois), which he created with the National Film Board of Canada; and the short documentaries Cuando Suena el Clarín (Hot Docs 2012) and Speaking into the Air (International Film Festival Rotterdam 2015). Most recently, Alvarez-Mesa completed his first feature-length documentary, Nuestro Monte Luna (Hot Docs 2015), which follows a group of Colombian at-risk teens who choose the controversial sport of bullfighting as a way to escape the violence that surrounds their society. Alvarez-Mesa holds an MFA in Film Production from Concordia University.
Lewis is a Vancouver-based filmmaker whose comedic documentaries have screened at film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and Slamdance. The Sandwich Nazi had its World Premiere at SXSW where it was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize.
Bi Gan, a Chinese director, was born in Kaili, Guizhou in 1989. Kaili Blues is his first feature film that will celebrate its world premiere at the 68th Festival Del Film Locarno, and won the Best New Director Award and Special Mention of the Best First Feature Award.
Lisa Birke is a Canadian artist who situates between the tradition of painting, digital video and performance art. She received an MFA with distinction from the University of Waterloo (2013), where she held the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Master’s
Scholarship and the University of Waterloo President’s Graduate Scholarship. She has had solo exhibitions and screenings across Canada and internationally. Her short films have been shown at ARTVIDEO LAB (France), Tracce Cinematografiche Film Fest (Italy), Arizona International Film Festival (USA), Athens International Film + Video Festival (USA), InShadow International Festival of Video, Performance and Technologies (Portugal), Cologne OFF X (USA, Israel), Cyprus International Performance Art Festival (Greece), Cold Cuts Video Festival (Canada), International Short Film Week Regensburg (Germany), Other Venice Film Festival (USA), Videoholica (Bulgaria) and others. Recently, she was a keynote artist at the Sounds Like Audio Art Festival in Saskatoon, she performed at CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, 2014) and her work will be presented at the National Art Centre’s “Ontario Scene Festival”, at SAW Video Media Art Centre in Ottawa (Canada) in the spring of 2015. red carpet was awarded the “Lakehead Juror’s Prize” and the “Audience Choice Award” at the Orillia Museum of Art & History in Orillia (Canada) in 2014.
Lisa Birke examines notions of ‘self’ through the lens of gender, bringing the cultural tropes of woman into focus and into question. Filmed unaccompanied in the Canadian landscape, absurd yet insightful performative acts become entangled in nuanced and complex narratives in single and multi-channel video works that make reference to art history, mythology and popular culture. Revealing what lies beneath the surface of femininity, her work toys with a conclusion that is problematic, comi-tragic, and most essentially, human.
Originally Kanesatake Mohawk, Sonia Bonspille Boileau is an award winning director and screenwriter who graduated from Mel Hoppenheim film school at Concordia University. Over the last few years, Sonia has developed and produced television projects in English and French from children’s programming to social issue documentaries. Her directing and screenwriting work has aired on several Canadian and international television broadcasters, and her projects have caught the attention of major film festivals around the world. Sonia won the PRIX DE LA DIVERSITÉ at the 2011 Gala des Prix Gémeaux for her documentary Last call indien. In 2014, Sonia was given the green light from Téléfilm Canada for production of her first dramatic feature.
Company: Opus 59 Films Inc.
John Bolton is an award-winning filmmaker based in Vancouver, BC. His company, Opus 59 Films, has produced performing arts pieces, literary adaptations, sports films and the occasional disaster movie. John is currently producing, writing and directing several projects, including the musical docudrama Aim for the Roses about Canadian musician Mark Haney and Canadian daredevil Ken Carter. Projects in development include E Day is Coming, a seismic comedy about earthquake preparedness and real estate anxiety in Vancouver, and Snowman, a hallucinatory black comedy/psychological horror film based on the play by Greg MacArthur.
Liz is a film & video artist from Vancouver, BC. Her short films have played at festivals internationally and her experimental work has screened in various galleries. In 2015, she was invited to participate in the Berlinale Talents program at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Company: Hungry Bear
Liz is an actress, writer and producer from Dallas, Texas, and TREADING WATER marks her first time to direct. She has made six feature films with her husband through their production company, Hungry Bear, including the successful ADVENTURES OF BAILEY series of films. Their most recent family feature, SUMMER’S SHADOW, starring Belle Shouse (Secrets & Lies) and Todd Terry (American Crime), premiered at the 2014 Sidewalk Film Festival and was released domestically in June, as well as internationally. A graduate of Texas Christian University, she is driven by the creative and collaborative aspects of bringing a story to life and is constantly educating herself on both the business and artistic side of filmmaking - from learning how to edit to working in distribution. She served for three years as Vice President of International Sales for Engine 15 Media Group in Los Angeles, where she attended numerous international film markets. She stepped down to focus exclusively on production. In addition to her own films, she also works as a producer on fellow filmmakers’ projects.
Alexander Carson is a Canadian filmmaker and media artist. His work is characterized by its combination of experimental structures and traditional narrative modes of address. With a portfolio spanning nearly a decade, his films have screened widely at major festivals across Canada, the United States, and Europe. Preceding O, Brazen Age—Carson’s feature-length debut—his short format work has garnered considerable critical attention, both nationally and abroad. He received the Award for Achievement in Direction from the Air Canada En Route Film Festival for his 2011 film “We Refuse To Be Cold”. In 2013, his film Numbers & Friends premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival before going on to win the prestigious Golden Gate Award for New Visions at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2014. Driven by lyrical storytelling and poetic imagery, Carson’s work has been produced with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the National Film
Board of Canada, the Toronto Arts Council, and Telefilm Canada. Carson holds a BFA & MA from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema at Concordia University in Montreal, where he met fellow filmmakers Kyle Thomas and Nicholas Martin. In 2005, they founded the North Country Cinema media arts collective, a director-driven organization based in Calgary, Alberta. The filmmakers collaborated to build a large body of short-format work leading up to a recent transition to feature filmmaking:
Carson produced Kyle Thomas’ debut feature, The Valley Below in 2014; a critical success, the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and garnered two Canadian Screen Awards in 2015. Carson edits all his own films, including O, Brazen Age, believing that montage is at the heart of creating meaning in cinema.Carson occasionally performs in his own films, and he recently played a leading role (Mr. Oddi) in the theatrical production of Sheila Heti’s All Our Happy Days Are Stupid, directed by Jordan Tannahill. The show first opened at Videofag in Toronto’s Kensington Market in 2013, before a sold-out run at both the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto, and New York’s historic off-Broadway mainstay, The Kitchen, in early 2015. Carson splits his time between Toronto and Western Quebec.