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
Director Gracia Querejeta drew from experiences with her own son to create this honest and touching film which sensitively illustrates the difficulties of being both a child and an adult. "Immensely entertaining… reminiscent of Pedro Almodovar… blends the evident unresolved family feuds with a whodunit plot…Profound and engaging." Indiewire
Nominated for 7 Goya Awards, including Best Film, Actor, Director, Supporting Actress, Newcomer
"Immensely entertaining, the film is reminiscent of master Pedro Almodvar’s work with a less stylized but equally successful analysis of the Spanish society. There is a witty and acidic comedic tone in the dialogue and intelligently developed characters throughout… This intimate piece blends the evident unresolved family feuds with a whodunit plot…Profound and engaging 15 Years +1 Day is a story about the children’s realization that parents are imperfect creatures, and that whatever they can teach or pass on is a diluted version of their fears and fascinations rather than fixed instructions for life." Carlos Aguilar, Indiewire
A youthful companion piece to Fernando Trueba’s The Artist and the Model, made by his son Jonas (and dedicated to Fernando), this is another ravishing black and white reflection on the nexus of art and life - albeit a movie about movie making, not painting. "An engaging, free-rolling and faux-shambolic 16mm homage to lives lived for film far beyond the outer reaches of the film industry." Hollywood Reporter
"An engaging, free-rolling and faux-shambolic 16mm homage to lives lived for film far beyond the outer reaches of the film industry." Hollywood Reporter
By turns moving and funny, Ignacio Ferreras’ animated tale of two elderly men who become friends at a care facility for the aged is based on Paco Roca’s multiple award-winning graphic novel of the same name. Combining an honestly come by poignancy with bursts of caustic humour, this is an extraordinarily involving work for adults that earns it laughs even as it generates a profound sympathy for the unforgettable Emilio and Miguel.
"It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking. It’s brilliant."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"One of the most accomplished Spanish films, from any genre, of recent years." Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
"Wrinkles, an exceptional comic book, an outstanding film"
Gregorio Belinchón, El Pais
Summer of 1943. In an occupied France, not far away from the Spanish border, a famous old sculptor who is tired of life and wars finds the desire to work on his last masterpiece when a beautiful young Spanish girl comes knocking after escaping a refugee camp in the South of France.
Gala screening Feb 21 includes a performance by Flamenco Rosario, a glass of wine and free admission to 9.30 show Serrat y Sabina: Two for the Road. Tickets $20 (members)
"A highly seductive piece… an exquisitely crafted reflection on the “big three” - life, death and art." Finn Halligan, Screen International
"Lovely and poignant [with] rich characters and complex themes… Daniel Vilar’s evocative black-and-white photography adds grace and authenticity to this unhurried, highly memorable tale." Gary Goldstein, LA Times
"Magesterial… An impeccably played gem whose ideas are as potent as its imagery." David Parkinson, Empire
Vancouver’s Funerary Call performs a new, specially commissioned live score for this mind-blowing 1922 cult classic. Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns and a satanic Sabbath are just a few of the ingredients that make up Benjamin Christensen’s witches’ brew of superstition, sorcery, surrealism and enlightenment.
"A unique film for its boldness in dealing with its taboo subject, for its amazing visual inventiveness, and also for its complex structure." Fernando Martin Pena, Defining Moments in Movies
"A truly unique work that still holds the power to unnerve even in today’s jaded era." Jyotsna Kapur, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
"An amazing experience. The film is overflowing with dark fairytale imagery, incredible makeup effects (especially Christensen himself in the role of a leering Lucifer) and shocking portrayals of torture that still make viewers cringe over 90 years later." Gregory Burkart, Fearnet.com
Thai-English director Tom Waller takes on one of the popular Father Ananda mystery novels. Former cop Ananda is now a senior monk and is asked by the abbot to solve a murder inside his monastery because the police don’t want to get involved. Not everything in the monastery is what it should be…
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
In 2008, 18 climbers from a party of 24 reached the summit of the world’s second highest mountain, the treacherous K2. 48 hours later, 11 were dead, or had simply vanished. What happened? Nick Ryan weaves together found footage, eerie reenactments and interviews with survivors to try and solve this tragic mystery.
"Riveting. Gripping. Thrilling." Indiewire
"A gripping cliffhanger. A heart-throbbing experience." Hollywood Reporter
In 1961, three young, visionary architects were commissioned by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara to create Cuba’s National Art Schools on the grounds of a former golf course in Havana, Cuba. Construction of their radical designs began immediately and the school’s first classes soon followed. Dancers, musicians and artists from all over the country reveled in the beauty of the schools, but as the dream of the Revolution quickly became a reality, construction was abruptly halted and the architects and their designs were deemed irrelevant in the prevailing political climate. Forty years later the schools are in use, but remain unfinished and decaying. Castro has invited the exiled architects back to finish their unrealized dream.
"A fascinating tale of visionary aesthetics and…. sublime structures." Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal
During the Great Depression, a New Jersey housewife returns again to again to watch RKO’s latest madcap Manhattan romance. So great is her devotion to the movie that one of the characters, Tom Baxter, can’t refrain from commenting on it - stepping down from the screen and into real life. Complications ensue.
Released just a few months after Octopussy, this Thunderball remake was produced by a rival team who managed to entice Sean Connery back into his most famous role (hence the ironic title). Notable for superior super villains Max von Sydow, Klaus Maria Brandauer and Barbara Carrera.
"The classiest of all the Bonds." Jay Scott, Globe & Mail
In this rarely screened masterpiece from cult director Jim Jarmusch, Johnny Depp plays a 19th century greenhorn - an accountant named William Blake - who heads west to the town of Machine. His prospects take a dark turn when a love triangle ends in double murder and Blake finds himself a wanted man, on the run, until a mysterious stranger by the name of Nobody (Gary Farmer) takes him under his wing. His journey takes him from civilization as he knows it to a nebulous realm of Native American spirit, and reality seems to slip away.
"Jarmusch’s most stunning achievement." Slant
"With the passing of time, this movie will settle in and find a place as a cinema classic." Jeffery M Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
When 14-year-old Laura Dekker announced her intention to become the youngest woman ever to sail around the world single-handedly there was an uproar. The child welfare authorities in her native Holland even applied to block her trip on legal grounds. But their case was rejected, and Laura set off soon afterwards on her beloved boat Guppy, with no safety boat or backup, but a video camera to record her odyssey. This film is the result of that impulse - a first-person mariner’s eye-view of a vast blue world
Allen waxes notalgic in this, one of his most autobiographical films, an affectionate tribute to the radio stars of the 1940s, and to the working class listeners - like Woody’s own family - who marveled at their exploits, both real and imaginary.
"Radio Days is so ambitious and so audacious that it almost defies description." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times