Film Festival Series


Path Alias: 

Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet

(2014, 85 mins, DCP)
CAST Voices: Salma Hayek, Liam Neeson, Quvenzhane Wallis, John Krasinski, Alfred Molina, Frank Langella
Classification: G


Young urchin Almitra becomes fascinated with the political prisoner, a poet named Mustafa, who has been kept in house arrest for nearly a decade, and for whom her mother Kamila cleans and cooks. Mustafa spins wonderful stories which make his confinement seem like privilege, at least to the mute Almitra. But when freedom seems closest she gains knowledge of just how precious, and fragile, it really is…

A passion project from producer Salma Hayek (who is also one of the voice cast), this is surely one of the most ambitious and visually stunning animated features targeted at an all-ages family audience. Inspired by the words of Lebanese philospher/poet Khalil Gibran, whose The Prophet became a counter-culture favourite four decades after it was published, the film shuttles between Mustafa and Almitra and tales within tales, the latter directed by half a dozen of the best animators working in the field, including Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells; Song of the Sea), Bill Plympton (Cheatin’; Idiots and Angels), Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues) and Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi (sequence directors on Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame). The framing story is directed by Roger Allers of The Lion King.

With a musical score by Gabriel Yared (The English Patient, Cold Mountain) featuring cellist Yo Yo Ma, and Vancouver animation studio Bardel Entertainment tying all the stories together, this is a singularly rich cinematic experience very much worthy of Gibran’s lyrical poetry.

"Think of “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet” as a gift: a work of essential spiritual enlightenment, elegantly interpreted by nine of the world’s leading independent animators." Peter Debruge, Variety

"Unabashedly stunning… a beautiful film." Sarah Gopaul, Digital Journal

Cartel Land

(2015, 98 mins, DCP)
Classification: 19+


Sep 05 05:30 pm
Sep 06 05:30 pm

Please note: Sep 8 - Tues 6:30pm Screening is cancelled due to schedule conflict. 

In the Mexican state of Michoacán, Dr. Jose Mireles, a small-town physician known as "El Doctor," leads the Autodefensas, a citizen uprising against the violent Knights Templar drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Meanwhile, in Arizona’s Altar Valley - a narrow, 52-mile-long desert corridor known as Cocaine Alley - Tim "Nailer" Foley, an American veteran, heads a small paramilitary group called Arizona Border Recon, whose goal is to stop Mexico’s drug wars from seeping across our border.

Filmmaker Matthew Heineman embeds himself in the heart of darkness as Nailer, El Doctor, and the cartel each vie to bring their own brand of justice to a society where institutions have failed. Cartel Land is a chilling, visceral meditation on the breakdown of order and the blurry line between good and evil.

"Cartel Land feels like Breaking Bad in real life, with characters even more complicated and controversial than Walter White." Alexander Gorbachev, Newsweek

"Astonishing… here, even crime is beautiful." Amy Nicholson, LA Weekly

"The results are astounding. Cartel Land is staggering, stunning. The best documentary I’ve seen in a very long time." Michael Dunaway, Paste Magazine

David & Me

(2014, 79 mins, DCP)
FEATURING David McCallum
Classification: 14A


Sep 06 07:30 pm

A documentary about two unlikely friends - a convicted murderer and a young, Canadian filmmaker. David McCallum is 29 years into a life sentence. Despite a mountain of evidence that should exonerate David, or at least grant him a new trial, filmmaker Ray Klonsky and a pro-bono team, led by the late Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, are stymied by a justice system that is not designed to free the wrongly convicted. When news of a DNA match that fingers a new suspect surfaces, the team thinks justice will finally be served, but they learn that the fight is by no means over. 'David & Me' is a life-affirming film about endurance, courage and the potential for love and interconnectedness between human beings.

David McCallum will be our guest at this screening.

"There’s a quality to David & Me that feels like a modern version of a John Steinbeck novel, the idea of perseverance in the face of hopelessness, a world capable of breaking a person’s spirit in cruel and thoughtless ways. If there’s reason to be optimistic about human nature, it’s in the idea of an innocent wasting in jail who still has the humanity to reach out and help a kid he doesn’t know and offer his guidance. It’s a beautiful, life affirming work from beginning to end." Adam A Donaldson, We Got This Covered

"David & Me works on two levels: as a riveting true-crime investigation and a tender story of an unlikely friendship." Jordan Adler, Toronto Film Scene

Vancouver Latin American Film Festival & VIFF Vancity Theate present 2 films by Luis Bunuel & Alex Phillips: Ascent to Heaven + Robinson Crusoe

(1952/54, 180 mins)
In Spanish with English subtitles


Sep 07 06:30 pm


During the Golden Age of Mexican cinema (a period between 1936 -1959), Canadian-born cinematographer Alex Phillips (Ontario, 1900) and Spanish-born film director Luis Buñuel (Aragón, 1900), became symbols for Mexican cinema. Alex Phillips arrived in Mexico in 1931 and never left; he worked on more than 200 films, including Santa (Mexico’s first sound film, 1931). In 1973, Alex Phillips was awarded with the Golden Ariel (Mexico’s highest film recognition) for his body of work.

Luis Buñuel filmed 21 of his 32 films in Mexico including Los Olvidados (1950), a film recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s audiovisual heritage. In 1961, he directed Viridiana, the only film from Mexico ever to win the Palme d’Or for Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival.

Alex Phillips and Luis Buñuel worked together on two films: Ascent to Heaven (Subida al cielo) (1952) and Robinson Crusoe (1954). Ascent to Heaven premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and it received four nominations at the Mexican Academy Awards, including for Best Director. Robinson Crusoe was the first film Buñuel filmed in colour. Irish actor Dan O’Herlihy received an Oscar nomination for the role, and the film won the awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor at the Mexican Academy Awards, where Phillips also received a nomination for Best Cinematography.

The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival is thrilled to present in partnership with VIFF Vancity Theatre, these two films that brought together the genius of Alex Phillips and Luis Buñuel, who devoted their finest years to Mexico’s film industry.

(Subida al cielo)
Mexico, 1952
Spanish with English subtitles/ 85 min
Director: Luis Buñuel
Writers: Luis Buñuel, Juan de la Cabada
Cinematographer: Alex Phillips

Cast: Lilia Prado, Carmen González, Esteban Márquez

Newlywed Oliverio receives disturbing news that his mother is on her deathbed. He travels to a remote part of Mexico to fetch a lawyer who can sort out her will. Leaving his wife behind, he embarks on a bus ride that's interrupted by an increasingly absurd series of episodes, including an impromptu birthday celebration; a one-legged man writhing in the mud; come-ons from an insatiable small-town belle, Raquel; and Oliverio's frequent, Freudian nightmares.

Mexico, 1954
Spanish with English subtitles/ 90 min
Director: Luis Buñuel
Writers: Luis Buñuel and Hugo Buttler (based on the book by Daniel Defoe)
Cinematographer: Alex Phillips
Cast: Dan O’Herlihy, Jaime Fernández

Luis Buñuel made this adaptation of one of the world’s most famous shipwreck novels, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, during his Mexican period. Despite the fact that the film veers from Buñuel’s “usual” style, for most it is considered the best film version of Defoe’s book, since the director left his personal touch on the story, and when that director is Buñuel, there’s little room for mediocrity.

Tickets for this co-presentation are available exclusively through and on the door. Vancity Theatre memberships do apply.


(2014, 104 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
In Norwegian with English subtitles
CAST Dagny Backer Johnsen, Tor Halvor Halvorsen, Tomine Mikkeline Eide, Yngve Seterås
Classification: 14A


Winner of the awards for Best Canadian Film and Best BC film at VIFF 2014, and subsequently named the Best BC Film by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and at the LEO awards, Violent is the debut feature from Andrew Huculiak, drummer for the Vancouver-based band We Are the City and it was created to coincide with the release of the album of the same name. The story takes us to Bergen, Norway, and the protagonist is young Dagny (the incandescent Dagny Backer Johnsen), whose reminiscences of the five people who loved her most rise to the surface at the same time as she experiences a resonant epiphany.

This inventive picture has a precise five-part structure and the vivid atmosphere (courtesy of cinematographer and editor Joseph Schweers) is complemented by authentic performances. Suspense is sustained in an abstract way: musical motifs from their songs, pinpoints of light, atmospheric electro-magnetics and a repeated, wave-like mantra. Each segment of the film is named for a person in Dagny’s life and each provides a different window into her character. It’s not a spoiler to say that Violent is actually a series of goodbyes as each segment ends with Dagny bidding another chapter of her life farewell as she pauses on her journey to adulthood.

"A small triumph of clear-eyed, full-hearted, poetic curiosity and perspective… When “Violent” hits its drummer’s-rhythm stride it becomes more than the sum of its parts, beautiful as they are: it becomes a sincere expression of a generous curiosity about some of life’s bigger questions, and an attempt to find, in the act of leave-taking, some wisdom and a kind of grace." Jessica Kiang, Indiewire

"Iyou’re a fan of We Are the City, Huculiak’s first-time feature feels like a testament to not only his strength as an up-and-coming musician, but a cinematic savant as well." Matthew Ritchie, exclaim!


(1996, 93 mins, Blu-ray Disc)
CAST Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlisle, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald, Peter Mullan
Classification: 19+


Sep 04 10:50 pm

Danny Boyle’s second film was a triumphant adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel about Edinburgh’s squalid heroin scene in the 1980s. Audaciously punching up the pitch-black comedy, juggling parallel character strands and juxtaposing image, music and voice-over with a virtuosity worthy of Scorsese on peak form, Trainspotting the movie captures precisely Welsh’s insolent, amoral intelligence. Amoral, but not unthinking, and certainly not unfeeling. Nihilism runs deep in this movie, emotion cannot be countenanced, only blocked off by another hit, another gag, but the anarchic, exhilarating rush of the highs can’t drown out the subsequent, devastating lows - these are two sides of the same desperation. Danny Boyle’s intuitive, vital, empathetic direction pushes so far, the movie flies on sheer momentum - that and bravura performances from Ewen Bremner’s gormless Spud, Robert Carlyle’s terrifying Begbie and, especially, Ewan McGregor’s Renton, who supplies a low-key, charismatic centre. This is a sensational movie, a palpable hit.

"It would be hard to imagine a movie about drugs, depravity, and all-around bad behavior more electrifying than Trainspotting." Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

TAIWANfest presents... Formosa Boulevard

(2015, 75 mins, DCP)
In English, Taiwanese, Mandarin with English subtitles
CAST Andy Gourley, Mark Nielsen, Michael Huang, Titan Huang
Classification: 19+


Sep 05 10:30 pm

The first feature from Scott Weatherall, a Canadian-born filmmaker who now lives and works in Taipei, Formosa Boulevard is a brash, snappy black comedy - The Hangover meets Snatch.

Otis (Andy Gourley) is an unapologetic, alcoholic, freeloading foreigner, who lives for himself and he does what he wants. Danny (Mark Nielsen) is his opposite: he has played by the rules and lived his life to please everyone else… But on the day of his wedding, something in him snaps and he runs. On this particular night, Otis’s past will catch up with him and Danny will get caught up in the crossfire.

Introduced by writer-director Scott Weatherall.

Mountain Men

(2014, 89 mins, DCP)
CAST Chace Crawford, Tyler Labine, Britt Irvin, Ben Cotton, Christine Willes
Classification: 14A


When Cooper, a big city lawyer, returns home to a small northern town for his mother’s wedding, he plans to be in and out without a scratch. But his deadbeat brother, Toph, has other ideas. He coerces Coop into driving to the remote alpine cabin where they spent their childhood summers to look for their father who has gone missing. Their sketchy plan goes from bad to worse, as bruised egos and buried resentments bubble to the surface. Cars explode, cabins burn, pot cookies are consumed, and when the smoke clears, the brothers find themselves stranded in the harsh Rocky Mountain winter, fighting for both their relationship and their lives.

Director’s Note

“It’s about changing definitions of manhood and manliness. It’s about manhood and what that means,” It’s about family – it’s about surviving family. It’s about finding your place in this landscape that we all live in – a majestic, beautiful landscape and what it all means to us.”

Cam Labine

“A movie that brilliantly mixes comedy and drama in unexpected ways… Hugely enjoyable” Marina Antunes, Quiet Earth