A sparklingly original comedy that casts Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren in three different stories set throughout Italy. In Naples, they are poor but resourceful, selling black market cigarettes on the streets. In Milan, Loren is costumed in Christian Dior and debates her preference for a Rolls Royce or her husband. And in Rome, Mastroianni is an industry scion who helps Loren’s prostitute set a wavering priest back onto the spiritual plane. Witty and unforgettable, this gem from master filmmaker Vittorio de Sica (Two Women, Marriage Italian Style) is picture-postcard beautiful and effortlessly hilarious.
When an elderly Sicilian fisherman rescues a boatload of African immigrants, he must decide whether to do what the law demands or what he knows to be right. A political powder keg sparks intense drama in Emanuele Crialese’s compelling and relevant piece of humanist filmmaking.
"Crialese is a sentimentalist at heart, but a fine one, and his compassion for the wretched of the earth is thrillingly amped by the movie’s ecstatic imagery. Like his neo-realist forebears before him, the director turns everyday activities and furtive acts — tending to a rotting boat, beating desperate refugees away from a tiny vessel, the tender ablutions of those same refugees on the shore — into a theater of danger, cruelty and sensual delight." Ella Taylor, NPR
"A stirring commentary on our better angels." Gary Goldstein, LA Times
Japan, France, Iran
The latest from master director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy; Close Up; A Taste of Cherry) is a strange, seductive and beguiling love story set in modern Tokyo. Akiko is a beautiful student who moonlights as a prostitute, unbeknownst to her boyfriend. A liaison with an elderly academic brings all manner of complication to all their lives…
"Every shot — everything you see, and everything you don’t — imparts a disturbing and thrilling sense of discovery." AO Scott, New York Times
"A sly, teasing riff on the heart’s irrational stirrings… You emerge elated and slightly dazed…. But the movie’s sense of immutable desire resonates well after the lights have come up." Scott Foundas, Village Voice
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."
"A beautifully artful, wistfully nostalgic coming of age romance!"
Classified for youth: PG (please note this film has somber and sometimes harrowing content.)
Set in Japan during WWII, the film focuses on Seita and his little sister Setsuko. After their mother is killed in an air raid, and with their father serving in the navy, they are forced to fight for survival in the devastated Japanese countryside. Probably the least seen Studio Ghibli masterpiece (at least in North America), this is also one of the most affecting animated films ever made. Roger Ebert described it "as an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation," adding: "It belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made."
“Grave of the Fireflies” is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation… It belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made." Roger Ebert
Fans of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it’s time to expand your horizons! This beautiful, sweet modern day fairy tale is the latest animated feature from Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars). Wolf Children is exquisite, a fantasy about a single mom, Hana, and her two kids, who are half human, half wolf. When they get excited, they spout bushy tails and long ears. Hana retreats to a remote farm to keep them safe from prying eyes until they are old enough to decide their own path.
"Mamoru Hosoda’s deeply moving and astoundingly contemplative work touches on the fleeting nature of life. Though devastating and gut-wrenching, the process of love, family and eventual moving on is considered a thing of beauty and something to be appreciated during the brief moments for which it lasts. 9/10" Robert Bell, Exclaim!
"An enchanting film, perfect for family viewing." Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film
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.
VANCOUVER PREMIERE - The school of Japanese asceticism called Shugendo is a blend of Shinto, Daoism and Buddhism. Followers practice arduous rituals in wildernesses and are deeply committed to protecting the natural environment. The film is a poetic and intimate journey into a rarely seen world between the developed and the wild, between the present and the infinite.
“Beautifully filmed, aesthetically pleasing, and religiously challenging." Paul Swanson
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
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
This special event features film, music, painting, prayer and hot chocolate, all in honour of Mexico’s traditional holiday, "Dia de los Muertos."
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
A film about the thin space between life and death, this is the story of Neil Platt, whose perfectly ordinary, very happy existence was turned upside down when he developed ALS. Within one year Neil became paralysed from the neck down. As his body failed, he tried to make sense of his life and communicate in a letter meant for his one-year-old son.
"Among the year’s most moving films." Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter
"Alternately heartbreaking and disarmingly sardonic." Basil Tsiokos, Indiewire
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
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
Argentina, Spain, Brazil
The 12-year-old son of political dissidents fighting the brutal military junta in 1970s Argentina, Juan goes to school under an assumed name and gets his first crush on a girl. But when his parents suddenly need to pack up and run his life is changed forever.
"Most coming-of-age movies don’t open with the prepubescent protagonist’s mom and dad getting into a cartoon gunfight in the street—then again, there are lots of unusual touches in Argentine filmmaker Benjamin Ávila’s feature. Blessed with old-school pedigree (producer Luis Puenzo made the Oscar-winner The Official Story) This ’70s-set story of a boy (Teo Gutiérrez Romero) and his exiled revolutionary parents returning home on the sly follows a well-trod path of viewing history through a child’s eyes. But the way the director throws in offbeat elements—animation, a Moonrise Kingdom–ish interlude in the woods, surreal dream sequences—without diluting the Dirty War drama is impressive." David Fear, Time Out New York
"A charming, involving first feature, Clandestine Childhood muscles its familiar coming-of-age material into something more vibrant and urgent than the usual. Through sharp editing and director Benjamín Ávila’s moment-making brio, this ’70s period piece charts a young boy’s attempts to carve out something like a childhood despite being the son of wanted revolutionaries in the Argentina of General Jorge Rafael Videla, whose brutal government "disappeared" millions just like them." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice