Every year at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada’s best feature films, documentaries and shorts are presented in one of the world’s largest annual public exhibitions of new Canadian film. From an average of more than 600 submissions, our programmers select over 75 features and shorts. Vancouver moviegoers respond with tremendous enthusiasm, making this one of our best-attended series and a point of pride for VIFF.
This year, VIFF furthers its commitment to Canadian narrative filmmakers by introducing a cash award to celebrate their outstanding achievements.
Awards for Canadian filmmakers at VIFF 2014 will include:
$8,000 cash prize
Sponsored by THE DIRECTORS GUILD OF CANADA
$2,000 Cash Prize
A $10,000 development bursary
Sponsored by THE HAROLD GREENBERG FUND
(All films in the BC Spotlight are eligible for Best BC Film)
A $7,500 cash prize
Sponsored by UBCP / ACTRA and AFBS
+ $10,000 Ewquipment credit
Supplied by WILLIAM F. WHITE
(filmsmust be signatory to a UBCP/ACTRA agreement to be eligible).
All Canadian feature films are also eligible for the Most Popular Canadian Film Award, and the prestigious Rogers People’s Choice Award. Both awards are chosen by VIFF attendees through post-screening voting.
#MUSTSEEBC WINNER ANNOUNCED
You voted! The winner of the Audience Must See Award is JUST EAT IT: A FOOD WASTE STORY (dir Grant Baldwin). In addition to its regluar screenings at VIFF, JUST EAT IT will screen at the BC Spotlight Awards + Gala on October 4, 2014. Congratulations!
Films in this Series
Director Ricardo Troggi (1981) delights with this hilarious and sometimes caustic souvenir of his own life when he was 17 years old. Jean-Carl Boucher plays young Ricardo as a cockeyed Quixote, fearlessly tilting at the repressive tyranny of everyday adolescence. Inspired by a surreal vision, he’s on a quirky quest that involves raging hormones, family drama and petty crime.
An abstract exploration of ephemerality and recycling.
It turns out that there’s a distinct difference between growing up and growing old.
Academy Award-winning director John Zaritsky (Leave Them Laughing), a bit of an oddball himself, returns with an engaging, light-hearted look at eccentrics. From a desert hermit to Denman Street’s Duck Lady, we’re introduced to those who dare, or are driven, to be different. Eccentrics are healthier and happier, as we discover in this funny, touching and thought-provoking film.
Suzanne Crocker’s deeply personal documentary offers a poignant commentary on what today’s day-to-day digital existence has devolved into. A courageous family opts to simplify things considerably by moving to a wilderness cabin in the Yukon with no electricity, television, Internet or running water. There are no neighbours, either, which results in a very unique and touching celebration of Halloween.
The latest from Denys Arcand (The Decline of the American Empire, The Barbarian Invasions) is the story of Luke (Éric Bruneau), a brilliant young architect who’s beginning to earn acclaim while leading a peaceful, seemingly perfect life with his wife Stephanie (Mélanie Thierry) in Québec’s Charlevoix region. Invited to sit on a architecture jury in Toronto, he meets a mysterious woman who will change his life…
An ambitious drag racer’s dreams are undermined by the realities of his personal life.
We are thrilled to offer this coveted gala spot to the winner of the #mustseeBC competition, where audiences will have the power to tell us which film they want to see at this exciting event. Check out http://mustseebc.viff.org for details!
Tormented by bedbugs, an ostracized woman learns an unexpected lesson about acceptance.
With a foreign military force encroaching, an odd interrogation ensues.
At a Saskatchewan cattle ranch during branding season, a blue-collar kid is rattled by an unsettling discovery.
Jake Henson (Dakota Daulby) is a troubled teen haunted by the deaths of his parents—his father in a hunting accident and mother by suicide—who escapes an abusive uncle to reconnect with his older brother (Matthew MacCaull). In director Jason Bourque’s thriller, their reunion on an isolated island shows that blood may be thicker than water but it’s still blood. And it’s messy as hell.
While posted at a remote lighthouse, a disfigured sailor is besieged by a strange storm.
A paean to Vancouver’s disappearing movie palaces.
After a couple discovers a supernatural phenomenon in their backyard, their relationship takes an unexpected turn.
Anne Wheeler’s most decorated film is an upbeat musical melodrama based on her mother’s wartime memories. Daisy Cooper (Rebecca Jenkins) is a wife and mother who joins a dance band to provide for her family while her husband is at war. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Vic Sarin, it’s bittersweet and poignant, with fine performances by Jenkins and Robyn Stevan, both of whom won Genies for their work.
A stubborn teenager with hypersensitive hearing tries to prove herself during an internship at an acoustics lab.
In the crackpot mosaic that is Montréal in 1966, Jean Corbo, an idealistic 16-year-old, befriends two far-left political activists and joins the FLQ (Liberation Front of Québec), an underground movement determined to spark a socialist revolution and Québec’s separation from Canada. Director Mathieu Denis brings the true and tragic story of a decisive moment in Canadian history into sharp focus.
An intimate portrait of uncertainty and loss told through close details of hands and objects.
On Noah’s Ark, the animals discover the darker side of their natures and things get unholy very fast.
A gothic bedtime story filled with love, loss, taxidermy, Kung fu and biker werewolves.
Jack (Paul Campbell) and Meagan (Alex Paxton-Beesley) have got it all. They’ve just bought a house, they’re thinking about a family and they have a close-knit circle of zany friends that love them. A few hookups, breakups and breakdowns later, the circle unravels and then regroups in this sharp-edged and libidinous comedy from writer-director Alex Pugsley.
A little girl believes that a homeless man is the reincarnation of her recently flushed goldfish.
While waiting for a bus, a man spies an odd piece of technology and investigates.
An eminent psychiatrist disappears from his office. The last person to have seen him is Michael, a handsome and seemingly innocuous patient, played here by Xavier Dolan in a tour-de-force performance. The director of the hospital, Dr. Green (Bruce Greenwood), investigates the disappearance but instead uncovers Michael’s dark secrets. Charles Binamé directs this taut psychological drama with a sure and subtle hand.
The inciting incidents in this riveting collection of inventive short films aren’t for the faint of heart or closed of mind. Industrial accidents, infestations and impending invasions set into motion reincarnation, revolution and musical numbers. Featured films: Bedbugs: A Musical Love Story, Bengal Light, Cutaway, The Hearing, Just Living, Kreb, Pour Retourner, Third Page from the Sun and What Doesn’t Kill You
Director Julia Kwan documents the pivotal changes affecting the culture and economy of Vancouver’s Chinatown, one of the oldest in North America. With humour and sympathy, Kwan introduces us to residents who see their way of living eroding and to others who welcome the transition, including real estate consultant Bob Rennie.
Terrance Odette’s (Heater, Saint Monica, Sleeping Dogs) drama centres on a Catholic priest (Michael Murphy) in a Niagara Falls parish whose world is turned upside down after he receives a letter alleging sexual transgression. Our sympathies are put to the test as he comes to terms with his memories and deals with the fallout.
An eloquent animated study of a sleepy prairie community.
A broken family learns to cope when their autistic son shows them everything they need—without saying a word.
In need of cash for a lifesaving operation, a senior schemes to rig a bingo game.
The past is open to re-interpretation in this irreverent selection of short films. Be it personal histories or matters of historical record, deeply entrenched attitudes or well known passages of scripture, nothing is particularly sacred here. Featured films: Day 40, Jutra, Luk’Luk’i: Mother, Mynarski Death Plummet, Not Indian Enough, Righteous, Tigerbomb! and The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer
An isolated and disabled man yearns to experience intimacy in a world that would rather ignore him.
As a woman and her dog go about their day, our understanding of their relationship shifts dramatically.
We devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. We love food and yet—thanks to our expensive obsession with expiration dates and perfect produce—we throw nearly half of it in the trash. Attempting to live waste-free, filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer subsist on discarded food for six months. Their documentary charts their experiment’s shocking revelations. Winner, Emerging Artist Award, Hot Docs 2014.
A first aid attendant is called into action in an Okanagan mill town.
An animated ode to filmmaker Claude Jutra and an account of his views on art and cinema.
Learning the dark truth about his workplace, a factory worker revolts.
A young military couple struggles to keep their marriage together through the last days of the husband’s tour.
Love. Grief. Shock. Denial. Sleeplessness. Bubble bath. Masturbation. Pop Tart. Bootie. Rejection. Weeping. Awkward. Life’s a bitch.
A young dishwasher contemplates the nightmarish prospect of making a life as a kitchen worker.
After a tragic death, a Lebanese immigrant struggles to arrange Islamic pre-burial rituals in his adopted home.
A full-time mother/part-time sex-worker goes missing on the Downtown Eastside during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Giuseppe Marinoni has been making some of the most desirable bicycle frames in Canada for decades. A former competitive cyclist, he decides, at age 75, to attempt a world record for distance cycled in an hour for his age group. His perfectionism, combined with a curmudgeonly nature, leaves him impatient with director Tony Girardin, adding a lot of humour to this inspiring film.
A boy follows his girlfriend to Hope, an ironically named town where his dreams die a slow death. However, his settled lifestyle is disrupted by a trip back to the city for a medical appointment, where he and a friend become stranded for 24 hours. René Brar tells the story of two troubled kids who never really grew up while examining the complex nature of relationships.
Daniel Grou (aka PODZ) directs this riveting ensemble film about interlocking lives. We have Xavier Dolan playing against type as a buttoned-down Jehovah’s Witness; Julien Poulin and Louise Turcot as casino employees with secrets; Robin Aubert as a high-powered man with gambling issues; Anne Dorval as his perpetually plastered wife and Gabriel Sabourin as a tortured drug mule. Wow.
The prolific Xavier Dolan reveals a newfound maturity with this bittersweet account of Diane (Anne Dorval, channelling Gena Rowlands) and her delinquent son (Antoine-Olivier Pilon, magnetic). Having abandoned the matricidal posturing of I Killed My Mother, Dolan sides with Diane on this occasion, crafting "a funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work…"—Variety. Winner, Prix du Jury (ex aequo), Cannes 2014.
Sturla Gunnarsson’s latest is a personal reflection on chaos, creation and faith in a land of believers. He explores the incomparably vast seasonal weather system that permeates and unifies the immense and varied cultures of India. As the huge system gradually engulfs every region of the country, we meet a remarkable array of individuals whose lives are fundamentally affected by the phenomenon.
A fantastical, phantasmagoric retelling of the final moments of Winnipeg’s WWII legend Andrew Mynarski.
In order to maintain his routine, a creature must do something extraordinary.
A woman confronts her cousin, who’s been telling people that she isn’t actually First Nations.
Ruba Nadda (Cairo Time) delivers layers of fear and distress with this taut psychological thriller. Helen (Patricia Clarkson) is a doctor mourning the recent death of her husband (Callum Keith Rennie) when Will (Scott Speedman) arrives at her cabin, badly injured by a gunshot. Clarkson’s performance is nuanced and compelling and you won’t soon forget Tim Roth as the relentless villain.
A kid and his Big Brother mess around in the streets of a metropolis.
A chef who’s honed his talents in prison finds the outside world to be an unforgiving place.
Ruth (Sonja Bennett, who also penned the screenplay) fakes being pregnant to fit in with her child-rearing friends. This uproarious comedy from Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) will have you cringing in between fits of uncontrollable laughter as Ruth’s web of lies becomes increasingly tangled. The road to acceptance has never been so baby-bumpy; you’ll be laughing until you birth. Sorry, burst.
Believing that he’s been racially profiled, a young black man blows off steam. Then, things get personal.
Finishing his late grandfather’s final model ship, a young boy drifts between surreal dreams and waking life.
Ana Valine’s darkly comic drama centres on mother/daughter con artists who just can’t catch a break. Seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Sammie (Paloma Kwiatkowski)—who lives with her pill-popping, alcoholic mom Marlene (Suzanne Clément)—this bittersweet journey leads us through dysfunction, love and addiction, before culminating with an unusual deliverance for this compelling pair. Winner, Best Director, Leo Awards 2014.
Out of his depth in a fight for a girl’s affections, Adam issues a challenge to his rival.
Carol (Arabella Bushnell) has a unique way of dealing with her frustrations with family, friends and co-workers: writing brutally honest songs (that frequently feature threats of violence) and leaving them on their voicemail. Carol’s creative catharsis has some immediate and unexpected consequences in this hilarious, offbeat comedy from writer-director Kris Elgstrand.
A meek nine-year-old roams a post-industrial landscape in search of a feral cat.
A variety of formative experiences are conveyed in this wildly diverse collection of short films that employ absurdist humour, affecting drama, cosmic flourishes and haunting surrealism to share with us the moments that will forever change these stories’ young protagonists. Featured films: 40 Candles, The Cut, Dorsal, Godhead, Petit Frère, Ship and Stray
An acting guru leads two hapless performers through a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.
An African village is the stage for a story of oppression and hope.
Born with albinism, Adam is ostracized in his Tanzanian village and violently assaulted by witch doctors who believe that his limbs possess mystic properties. A Canadian born with the same condition hears of Adam’s plight and takes action. “Harrowing and poignant… Vic Sarin’s [documentary], with its searing images, is both ode to human resilience and ingenuity, and indictment of human cruelty and stupidity.”—Globe and Mail
A lone school teacher fights off an entire motorcycle gang while chaperoning a middle-school dance.
The Apuan Alps in northern Tuscany serve as the stunning backdrop to Simone Rapisarda Casanova’s deeply felt film about a shepherd, his vanishing way of life and the echoes of history… "Remarkable for its vibrancy and generosity… Under the rustic relics of the past and the calamities of the present, Rapisarda Casanova uncovers a few traces of the infinite…"—Cinema Scope. Winner, Best Emerging Director, Locarno 2014.
A father and daughter bond as she cuts his hair. But then the phone rings…
There’s one thing a deaf teenager would like to hear more than anything else…
In his latest incendiary investigative documentary, Harold Crooks (Surviving Progress) examines the sordid history of offshore tax havens and the dire contemporary ramifications of such corporate malfeasance. It seems that it’s big business’ world and we’re just picking up the tab. But how long can the middle class and poor bear the tax burden? This is shocking look at an unsustainable system poised to implode.
Wild fish populations in BC have been declining since the late 70s, at about roughly the same time the open-net fish-farm industry began to grow fish in marine waters. Focusing on the research of biologist Alexandra Morton, filmmaker Scott Renyard links the crash of many fish species on Canada’s West coast to diseases spread from fish farms in this persuasive and urgent call to action.
This multi-narrative drama chronicles life in a small town in the Alberta badlands over the course of one year. As we’re introduced to a pregnant teenager, a hard-drinking musician, a reclusive taxidermist and an ambitious RCMP officer, the intertwining stories in director Kyle Thomas’ ambitious, eloquently executed film render a rich portrait; four circles of Drumheller, if you will.
Two brothers share the scars of an untold history that has driven them to existential extremes.
Maybe location isn’t quite everything in these short films but it’s certainly integral. A haunted lighthouse, eerie acoustics lab and sleepy prairie community are but some of the atmospheric environments that these compelling stories immerse us in. Featured films: Bison, Broken Face, Chamber Drama, Eclissi, Fallow, Lifers, Light and Sleeping Giant
A young boy falls in love in Victoria’s Chinatown and sparks a symphony in dynamite.
Writer-director Soran Mardookhi brings us the moving story of Sherzad (Kamal Yamolky) and his estranged young daughter, Jina. A former electrical engineer in Iraqi Kurdistan, he’s now trying to make a new life for himself in his adopted home of Canada. Jina (Camillia Mahal) numbs her harrowing childhood memories with drugs. But even among other misfits, she has a hard time fitting
Maureen Bradley’s debut feature is a bittersweet romantic comedy with a transgender hero in an unimaginable predicament. Oddball couple Miriam and Adam have an ill-advised and pivotal one night stand that sees them both wind up pregnant. Engagingly shot by Amy Belling, the film features standout performances from Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Naomi Snieckus (Mr. D) and Gabrielle Rose.
Best known as the drummer for Vancouver-based We Are the City, Andrew Huculiak makes his directorial debut with this beautiful, atmospheric film shot in Norway and inspired by the band’s latest album. It stars newcomer Dagny Backer Johnsen as a young woman who, after enduring a catastrophic event, loses herself in memories of the people who loved her most.
Companionship can be a funny thing… Or a tragic thing… Or an unsettling thing… These short films tell the stories of characters who are tormented by affairs of the heart, hopelessly entangled with one another or left yearning for such complications (be they romantic or otherwise). Featured films: The Acting Teacher, Burnt Grass, Dead Hearts, Hard Card, Hole, Howard & Jean, Life’s a Bitch and Withering Heights
Yan, Simon, Roxanne, Maxime and his sister Lily are in their early 20s and absolutely anything seems possible. They’ve been friends forever and the future is bright. Then, on a lovely summer’s day, Yan dies in a car crash… Director Julie Hivon follows their desperate attempts to make some kind of sense of life without Yan.
Three bullied teenagers discover an unexpected solution to their problems.
A failing marriage leaves a woman sleepless and shrinking from sight.
Nicole (Julianne Côté ) has some growing up to do in this sweetly absurd, wryly comic third feature from Stéphane Lafleur (Continental, a Film Without Guns). Vibrantly shot in textured black-and-white 35mm, the appealing dramedy displays a disciplined visual sense, a good ear for dialogue and characters that become more endearing as the episodic action progresses. "Unconventional and slyly entertaining…"—Screen