Path Alias: 


Program Running Time 120 min.

Films in Program

Directed By: Karen Lam
(Canada, 2013, 120 mins)

VIWIFF: Last Woman Standing

(2013, 120 mins)
CAST Mary Spencer, Ariane Fortin


Last Woman Standing follows world champion boxers and former friends, Ariane Fortin and Mary Spencer, as they fight for an Olympic dream that can only belong to one.

In 2012, the Olympic Games included women’s boxing for the first time in history. But only three weight categories would be admitted – men have ten. To compete for their Olympic dream, Fortin and Spencer were forced to move into the same weight class to fight for a single spot to represent Canada, effectively ending their friendship and beginning a fierce rivalry.

Juliet Lammers’ and Lorraine Price’s debut feature documentary film keeps you on the edge of your seat, and that’s not just because of the boxing matches. The behind-the-scenes access by the filmmakers ­- who are themselves boxers - over the course of several years, is remarkable. The dramatic tension in this real-life boxing saga between a boxing warrior queen and the defiant underdog is explosive and contagious, even if you don’t care about sports. In short: this film will knock you out.

Preceded by: A Little Elbow Room (Maureen David, 13 min, Canada)

Step outside of the Vancity Theatre, turn left on Davie Street and you’ll see The Elbow Room Cafe, a small breakfast joint where the rule of the coffee pot is “get your ass up,” and every customer regardless of age or gender is called “girl.” Patrick Savoie and his partner Bryan Searle built this successful business on an unusual form of customer service: treating customers like crap. Part small business owner, part insult-comic, Savoie is known for slinging barbs as much as for slinging pancakes.

Mavreen David’s first documentary short is an intimate look at the history of this famously unique place, and the quirky man who has made it infamous. It’s not all caustic insults and rampant abuse - the diner has raised over $67,000 for AIDS charities. This isn’t just a story about the café, it’s a story about love, commitment, and the evolution of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2S community. This delightful short will tickle you, move you, enlighten you, and most certainly make you want to visit The Elbow Room for some eggs…with a side of snark.


(2013, 120 mins)


Country of origin: France, Turkey, Pakistan

Young, handsome Noor wants to be a man. He doesn’t belong to the Khusras, Pakistan’s eunuch and intersex community, anymore. After narrowly escaping a violent incident at the truck stop where he works, he heads off on a magical road trip across northern Pakistan hoping to find a woman who will accept him as he is.

Inspired by the lay actor’s true biography, the filmmakers embarked on a fascinating road movie through a Pakistan we don’t normally hear about—one with a stunning landscape, hopeful romantics, and entirely devoid of notions of terrorism and natural catastrophes. Most of the actors and extras play themselves, as the French-Turkish veteran documentary filmmakers take a vérité approach for their fictional debut.

Beautifully framed in a wide screen format, the film premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and has been collecting awards ever since. Eponymous lead actor Noor, who had never met western people before meeting the directors, is an astonishing talent who has captured the hearts of festivalgoers world wide.

Preceded by:

Pink or Blue (Barbara Bedont, 7 min, Canada)

In this observational documentary, four-year-old Zac gets his wish to pick out an outfit for a Halloween party in his class. He insists on a pink princess gown… “Pink or Blue?” challenges our society’s rigid gender roles. Based on the belief that children have the right to explore their own gender identity, “Pink or Blue?” gives Zac the last word (Barbara Bedont, director).

88 Miles to Moscow (Karen Glienke, 20 min, USA)

15-year-old Niki tells her overprotective mother (in an excellent performance by Priscilla Barnes) all about a trip she took with her ex-con dad, but somehow fails to mention a few details –like getting off the train for a smoke, winding up stranded in the middle of nowhere, and having to find her way back with the help of a young Russian garbage man. Like all journeys worth taking, Niki’s cannot be measured in miles alone. This lighthearted, well-crafted dramedy has been collecting awards all over North America.

VIWIFF: Awards Ceremony & Closing Night Party

(300 mins)


VIWIFF: Afterparty

(2012, 120 mins)
CAST Ali Liebert, Christina Sicoli, David Milchard, Emma Lahana, Erica Carroll, Graham Coffeng, Jodi Balfour, Nicholas Carella, Peter Benson


After a newlywed couple departs for their honeymoon, best man Charlie (Graham Coffeng) gathers his 30-something former high school friends for a late night party in their house, where he has been couch-surfing for weeks. While Charlie is dealing with his troubled marriage, his friends fight their own midlife demons: Tracy (Ali Liebert) tries to balance her life as a successful-but-lonely TV actress, and newly divorced loudmouth Bruce (Nicolas Carella) seeks to bed a 22-year old. Bitter words exchanged between former jock Dave (David Milchard) and outsider wife Karen (Jodi Balfour) suggest trouble in paradise. Cheeses roll, tears flow, and new alliances are forged in this tragic-comedic roller coaster emotions.

Afterparty is the first feature by Vancouver-based Sociable Films.

Produced under a UBCP Members Initiated Project (MIP) agreement, Afterparty is a rare cooperatively-produced film. Director Ouellet developed nine archetypal characters and 40 unscripted scenes with her actors, who improvised on set for six consecutive summer weekends in 2012.

VIWIFF: How a People Live

(120 mins)


The Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations invited award-winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson and producers Catrina Longmuir and Sharon Bliss to trace the history of their nations’ forced relocation from traditional territories on the coast of British Columbia in 1964. Candid and moving interviews, striking archival films and photos dating back over 100 years, as well as a visit to their stunning ‘Homelands’ bring to life the story of a people known for their theatrical dances, their strong connection to the land, and the strength that has enabled them to overcome incredible hardships.

Following the rise of the Idle No More movement, this masterfully lensed and edited documentary emphasizes the importance of remembrance and reconciliation when meditating on Canadian history at large.

“In the film How a People Live we depict the land, we talk about what happened over a period of 150 years, and we demonstrate a strength of will and soul that is moving us toward a healthy and vibrant society once again.” (Colleen Hemphill, Chief Treaty Negotiator Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw Nations)

Preceded by: Michelle Thrush (Shannon Kaplun, Canada, 20 min)

Adam Beach narrates the story of Michelle Thrush, a Gemini Award-winning Canadian actor who has starred alongside Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, and many others in numerous feature films. She is one of the stars of APTN’s Blackstone and CBC’s Arctic Air series, and is known for her role in Jim Jarmush’s Dead Man. A Cree from Calgary, Thrush has suffered poverty, was surrounded by addiction, and fought through stereotypes to become a strong, talented, and award-winning role model.

Followed by: Panel discussion

VIWIFF: Finsterworld

(120 mins)
CAST Corinna Harfouch, Ronald Ronald Zehrfeld, Sandra Hüller, Carla Juri, Michael Maertens, Johannes Krisch


Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humour? This black comedy (“finster” means “dark” in German, and the title is a wordplay on the director’s last name), which Finsterwalder wrote with her husband, Swiss novelist Christian Kracht, is a daring, charmingly absurd reflection of the broken German soul 70 years after World War II.

While a group of independent high school students has a gruesome experience at a former concentration camp, “Furries”- people dressed up in costumes portraying anthropomorphic characters - gather together looking for acceptance. A well-to-do couple clinging to their youthful ideals speeds toward Paris in a rented, “no Nazi-autos, please” car, and an esthetician who despises German folk songs develops a peculiar taste for his elderly female clients.

These tales of loss of national identity, and the search for love in this ensemble piece are elegantly filmed, and often surprisingly morbid – watch out for the optical illusion of a rotating Cadillac sign turning into a swastika – no SFX required.

Preceded by: The Meeting (Karen Lam, 16 min, Canada)

In a weekly support group, four serial killers confess their darkest sins, hoping to cure themselves of their homicidal tendencies. But all hell breaks loose when a blonde, female newcomer decides to join….

Vancouver’s queen of horror, Karen Lam, keeps on gathering awards all over the world with this well executed, sophisticated and funny gem that turns your expectations of serial killers upside down.

VIWIFF: The Return (El Regresso)

(2013, 180 mins)


The Return (90 min) is a narrative fiction that explores the tragic and true events of April 16, 2004 in the Wuayuu community of Bahía Portete, at the Colombian Guajira, a territory split between Colombia and Venezuela.

The cast consists of mainly non-actors from the area’s indigenous peoples whose moving performances are captured by Venezuelan debut filmmaker Patricia Ortega.

The story is told from the perspective of Shuliwala (Daniela González), a 10-year-old girl who is forced to flee her home for an unknown city. The film is a bold contribution to the fight against racism while portraying little-known images of the Wayuu indigenous community.

By focusing on a specific ethnic group, Ortega proposes a universal approach that vindicates the struggle for the rights of indigenous people.

Awarded Best Feature Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Actress (Daniela González) at Festival entre Largos y Cortos de Oriente “ELCO 2013” in Venezuela.

The film was considered "one of the jewels of the IX edition of the Venezuelan Film Festival in Mérida.” - Correia, Alexis. El Nacional.

Preceded by two short films from Venezuela:

Extranos (7 min)

Des(Pecho)Trucción (11 mins)

Followed by a panel discussion


(2013, 120 mins)
CAST Babz Chula


Anyone who knew Babz Chula—a talented, larger-than-life performer from Canada’s West Coast—could tell you that her life force, or chi, was incredibly strong. When Chula reconnected with director Anne Wheeler in 2009, they discovered a mutual interest: India.

Wheeler accompanies her friend Chula to Kerala, India, where she is to undergo treatment by a renowned Ayurvedic healer in an effort to manage her 6-year battle with cancer.

Showing the excruciating treatments in true vérité style, Wheeler and Chula are hopeful that the bare-bones clinic will deliver and indeed, the treatment seems to provide temporary improvement, before taking a turn for the worse. Amazingly, the irrepressible Chula invites Wheeler and her camera to continue bearing witness to her journey into the unknown.

Wheeler’s up close and personal narration, as well as Chula’s darkly humorous, blatantly honest video diary offer a highly meritorious film beyond Chula’s reputation. Expect to be entertained, astonished and moved.

VIWIFF: Date Night (short films)

(120 mins)


Two Penny Road (7 min, Canada); Mimi and Me (15 min, Canada); Saba (15 min, Iran); I Saw You (9 min, Canada); Pretty Shy City (11 min, Canada); Am I Not Your Girl (8 min, Germany); Zu Dir? 29 min, Germany)

see for individual film descriptions