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Japan

IBFF 2013 Vancouver (International Buddhist Film Festival)

Six year old Olo is sent away from Tibet to India by his mother so he can get an education. Now a student at the famed Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala (founded by Jetsun Pema, sister of the Dalai Lama), he has to make his way in a world quite different from his own. Director Hisaya Iwasa takes a creative and intimate approach to telling this true story.

Mongrel Media 20th Anniversary

Two couples are devastated to learn that their children were swapped at birth six years ago. Are blood ties thicker than the bond of child rearing? This masterly, very moving drama won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Audience Award at last year’s VIFF.

"Sublimely moving." Maggie Lee, Variety

’Powered by Kore-eda’s innate restraint and natural empathy, Like Father, Like Son takes these characters to places they never expected to be. It’s unnerving for them, of course, but watching so many hearts hanging in the balance is a rare privilege for us." Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"Kore-eda has crafted a piercing, tender poem about the bittersweet ebb and flow of paternal love, and his status as Ozu’s heir becomes ever more assured." Robbie Collin, The Telegraph

Set in Yokohama in 1963, the latest animated feature from Studio Ghibli is a poignant teen love story, graceful, understated but full of feeling. Written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro, the movie tells the story of a lonely high school girl who becomes involved in the fight to save a delipidated boys’ club house.

"With its beautiful visuals and songs, Poppy Hill finds a deserving place among its Studio Ghibli peers."

- Variety

"A beautifully artful, wistfully nostalgic coming of age romance!"

- Twitch

UK, Japan

IBFF 2013 Vancouver (International Buddhist Film Festival)

A mysterious and engaging journey through sound, song, story, ritual, performance, nature, tradition and Japanese Buddhism… A fearless merging of medieval and modern, beautifully filmed with a variety of cinematic techniques on location in Japan. “Kanzeon” is another way of saying Kannon (Chinese: Kuanyin), the embodiment of compassion, and can also be written in Japanese as “to see sounds.”

"Stunning to look at… mesmerising musical sequences”

Frances Morgan, Sight and Sound

"A stunning new British documentary.”

Jasper Sharp, Midnight Eye

Korea, Finland

DOCside

This portrait of deaf-blind Korean poet and essayist Young-chan is one of the most life-affirming films you will see - it’s a film about the communication of the senses, and the magical symbiosis of a loving marriage.

"Planet of Snail is simple, direct and magical. The warm, intimate story of a singular couple, it won the top prize at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, and it will win you over as well if you give it the chance." Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"A love story of uncommon loveliness and simplicity." Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

"A perfect date movie." Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Mexico

(Ay Jalisco, No Te Rajes!‘ ("Hey Jalisco, Don’t Back Down!"))
Vancity Theatre Screening

In rural Mexico, when a young boy’s parents are killed, he is raised by a farm worker and the town’s barman, who instills a desire of vengeance in him, and as an adult he romances a young woman who is going to marry a rich man to save her father from financial ruin. This 1941 Mexican film classic became an enormous hit and features Jorge Negrete as the first cinematic singing Mariachi. This performance made Negrete an international Latin film star and launched the appearance of singing mariachis in films.

(El lugar mas pequeño)
After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador

Joy and sorrow: These are the first words uttered in Huezo’s film, and the emotional key notes in one of the most moving documentaries of recent times. On the surface The Tiniest Place is the story of Cinquera, a village literally wiped off the official map during El Salvador’s 12-year civil war. But on a deeper level it is a story about the ability to rise, to rebuild and reinvent oneself after a tragedy.

"A profound expression of the twin powers of life and death…The subject of the Central American wars of recent decades has rarely received such a level of artistic treatment onscreen." Robert Koehler, Variety

"Unforgettable…One of the finest docs I’ve seen over the past year." Howard Feinstein, Filmmaker Magazine

"Superb. 10/10." —Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters

((Lecciones para una guerra))
After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador

Between 1982 and 1996, the Ixil and Quiché people took refuge in the mountains as a last resort to save themselves from the massacres carried out by the Guatemalan Army, which took the lives of more than 200,000 indigenous people. After those fourteen years, the communities ended up settling in the northeastern part of the range, an area currently under siege due to the wealth of natural resources to be found there. Lessons for a War is a celebration of the resistance of people preparing to defend themselves against another coming war. A chant of hope of a community that will not give up.

(Day of the Dead Festival)
Special Presentation

This special event features film, music, painting, prayer and hot chocolate, all in honour of Mexico’s traditional holiday, "Dia de los Muertos."

Highlights:

From 6:15 p.m. Art exhibit and Altar with photos of deceased loved ones.

7:00 p.m. Film introduction and explanation of the day of the dead custom.

Followed by Film screening: Macario This 1960 classic of Mexican cinema is based on a novel by B. Traven (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), itself based on a folk tale. Ignacio Tarso plays a peasant who goes on hunger strike in the hope of a turkey dinner. He gets more than he bargained for when the Grim Reaper (Enrique Lucerio) strikes a deal with him.

8:40 p.m. Hot chocolate and prayer for the departed.

Followed by a short set of traditional songs performed by Mariachi Los Dorados.

The Beautiful Game

The Cuaron brothers’ follow up to international hit Y Tu Mama Tambien reunites stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna for a piquant pop satire on Mexico’s obsession with soccer and celebrity. Gael’ Garcia Bernal’s Tato – nicknamed Cursi (“Corny”) - is is a quickfire striker. Beto - known as Rudo ("Rough") - is a great keeper. But which of them will escape poverty to find fame and fortune?

"Mixes soap-opera sentimentality with playful, jumpy aggression and dresses a bittersweet, rags-to-riches fable in the bright clothes of pop satire." AO Scott, New York Times

"Rudo y Cursi is a grave and calculated affront to the men of Mexico, and that’s the source of its roistering charm." Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Nepal

IBFF 2013 Vancouver (International Buddhist Film Festival)

In a remote nunnery a revered abbess dies. Prayers and rituals must be performed but the nunnery has no money. A nun, Karma, must journey to find the man who may owe a debt. Filmed in the remote Himalayan region of Mustang, we follow Karma to Katmandu where she discovers that things are not what she thought.

Netherlands

Vancity Theatre Screening

A dark suburban fable exploring the nature of evil in unexpected places, Borgman follows an enigmatic vagrant who enters the lives of an upper-class family and quickly unravels their carefully curated lifestyle.

"Think Lynch meets Haneke in an absurdist flick that maintains its state of dread without fully tipping its hand. There’s humour, too, as twisted as a graveyard chuckle."Toronto Star

"Caustic, surreal, creepy, and blackly funny ..."Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

"In an era where there are very few truly surprising films, Borgman is one of the rare movies that manages to find something entirely new to say, with original, oddly drawn characters."The Wrap

Paraguay

(7 Cajas)
Vancity Theatre Screening

17-year-old Victor grubs out a living with his wheelbarrow, delivering produce at a city market in Paraguay’s capital, Asuncion. He can scarcely believe his eyes when he’s handed half a C-note to babysit 7 boxes for a few hours (he gets the other half when the job is done). Of course it doesn’t take long before he wonders what his cargo might be, especially when the cops pile in.

"7 Boxes is a rollicking good time at the movies that offers breathtaking action and suspense, humor and appealing characters all in one visually flashy package." Boyd van Hoelj, Indiewire

"Crackles with the desperate energy of forced innovation." Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

"7 Boxes has something for everybody." Chris Knight, National Post

Phillippines

Vancity Theatre Screening

In the northern Philippine province of Luzon, a law-school dropout commits a horrific double murder; a gentle family man takes the fall and receives a life sentence, leaving behind a wife and two kids. A careful rethinking of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment shot in blazing color, this tour de force offers a masterful recapitulation of Diaz’s longstanding obsessions: cultural memory, national guilt, and the origin of evil. "A masterpiece. An astonishing work of life, death and art." Wesley Morris

Its very existence is an exhilarating triumph over complacency… there is an almost inexhaustible humanism at the heart of this remarkable film." A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“The lights came up, I stood with tears in my eyes, and clapped as loudly as I ever have for any movie in my life.” Wesley Morris, Grantland

“A mesmerising experience that grows deeper and broader the longer it goes on” Kieran Corless, Sight and Sound

France, Poland, Denmark

Ida
Vancity Theatre Screening

Polish-born, UK-based filmmaker Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love) returns to his native land for this evocative, resonant art film about a novice nun discovering a family secret in the 1960s. Beautifully shot in black and white, this award-winning drama has been compared to the work of Francois Truffaut and Robert Bresson.

"In a very short time, Pawlikowski’s film tells us a powerful, poignant story with fine, intelligent performances." Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"This story of faith and despair is gracefully told, its simple, uncluttered spaces and luminous black-and-white photography harking back to Robert Bresson."JR Jones, Chicago Reader

"It’s absolutely stunning, one of the year’s best films, and a fulfillment of the promise that the director has shown for so long." Oli Lyttleton, Indiewire

Romania

(Dupa dealuri)
Vancity Theatre Screening

The latest from 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days director Mungiu is a slow burning but utterly transfixing exorcism drama based on a news story from 2005. A novice nun in an Orthodox monastery in Romania, Voichita welcomes an old friend from their days in the orphanage - but she is taken aback when Alina tries to persuade to come away to Germany. Meanwhile the monastery’s stern priest becomes convinced Alina is a temptress possessed by the Devil.

"A quintessentially praiseworthy festival film: weighty in intent, unfamiliar enough in setting, rigorously masterful in execution… But what is remarkable about Beyond the Hills and the unexpected interrogations it awakens is the lingering sense of doubt it leaves you with. Not merely as to the virtues of organized religion—that would be too simple—but just as much the facile condemnation of it… It is a work that forces you into the not entirely pleasant yet oddly rewarding territory of moral uncertainty."—Joumane Chahine, Film Comment

"If you long for the bleak intelligence of an Ingmar Bergman film, where humankind is deeply flawed and God is indifferently silent and the landscape is cloaked in perpetual winter, then Beyond the Hills promises to be your cup of despair." 3 stars Rick Groen, Globe & Mail

"Riveting to watch and fascinating to think about afterwards." Philip French, The Observer

GB, Somalia

Vancity Theatre Screening

November 7, 2008, the Danish (Bahamas-registered) cargo vessel CEC Future was boarded by Somali pirates. For 70 days the international crew was held captive at gunpoint while the pirates and the Danish owners negotiated.

This evening Vancity Theatre presents two films inspired by this story, one a documentary (Stolen Seas), the other a dramatic feature (A Hijacking) written and directed by Tobias Lindholm, whose last film was The Hunt.

Assembled from three years’ worth of visits to the dangerous "hot zone" off the coast of Somalia, Payne’s riveting film gives us both the wider context that explains the piracy from all sides, and takes right inside the actual hijacking, incorporating footage shot by the Somalis during the incident.

"Riveting…a dense, sometimes dangerous 90-minute immersion in a world where lawlessness applies to all sides." Peter Debruge, Variety

"A documentary of such ambitious scope you might need a remote control and a notebook to keep up with it." Omer M Mozaffar, Chicago Sun-Times

South Africa

Music Mondays

One of the most acclaimed - and revelatory - music documentaries in the last few years, this Academy Award-winning film investigates, the life, work and mysterious disappearance of the 70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Screening in tribute to director Malik Bendjelloul, who committed suicide earlier this year.

"A hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing." Manohla Dargis, New York Times

"All you really have to know about this surprising and emotive music doc is that you should see it." Trevor Johnston, Time Out

USA, France, South Korea

In a future where a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life on the planet, a class system evolves aboard the Snowpiercer, a bullet train that travels around the globe via a perpetual-motion engine. From acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho (The Host; Mother; Memories of Murder) comes the coolest action pic of the summer, a class allegory delivered with slambang violence, visual panache, and delirious conviction - and starring Captain America himself!

"Politically provocative and visually spectacular Snowpiercer — the best action film of 2014, and probably the best film, period." — Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

"Watching it, I was reminded of the first time I experienced The Matrix or District 9Snowpiercer sucks you into its strange, brave new world so completely, it leaves you with the all too rare sensation that you’ve just witnessed something you’ve never seen before ... and need to see again and again. A" — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

"Gets at a kind of daring, giddy excitement that plays like something our movies have lost." — Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

South Korea

Vancity Theatre Screening

The Golden Lion winner at last year’s Venice Film Festival, this is a controversial and intense drama about a tough, brutal loan shark redeemed by the unqualified love of a woman claiming to be his long-lost mother. Violent and provocative, Pieta is nothing if not extreme, a movie reveling in almost absurdist dichotomies of good and evil. But if you can stomach the challenging first hour, the pay off tells us something unexpectedly poetic and moving about the relative value of money and compassion in today’s capitalist society.

"A master provocateur playing out his own neuroses and obsessions on the big screen…Like Lars Von Trier, his films don’t always work. But when they do … well, when they do Kim is capable of creating work that disturbs and troubles and finds beauty in unexpected places. This is one of those films." Todd Brown, Twitch

"The worst major festival winner since the Palme d’Or for Amour." Christoph Huber, Cinema Scope

"Pieta," a curiously engaging and wickedly twisted tale of crime and punishment on multiple levels, displays its theatrical minimalism like a dour badge of honor. " Eric Kohn, Indiewire

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