The latest in our irregular series of archival shows throws a well-earned spotlight on the late Phil Keatley, whose long career at the CBC ranged from the 1950s to the 70s. Keatley is probably best known for his work as a producer on The Beachcombers, but here we look back further, to three black and white dramas he produced in BC between 1958 and 1967.
Two women from opposite sides of Hitler’s Third Reich meet in Toronto, years after the Second World War–Mania, orphaned by the regime, and Johanna, possibly the Nazi guard who protected her. Weaving together their stories, this powerful documentary intimately explores their war experiences and witnesses their reunion more than half a century later.
A rebellious teenager (Tatiana Maslany, Grown Up Movie Star) forced to repeat her last year of high school is caught between adolescence and adulthood — and between two very different male admirers — in this charming and vibrant debut feature from writer-director Kate Melville.
“One of the smartest movies on youth I have seen since “Freaks & Geeks.” Jason Whyte, efilmcritic
“Smartly written and directed by Kate Melville, Picture Day is a well-executed coming-of-age drama that distinguishes itself with its strong sense of its characters and their emotional universe.” Adam Cook, Filmmaker Magazine
“Engaging, funny and evokes all the beautiful awkwardness and confidence of being a teenager … Kate Melville has tapped into something very funny, real, and uniquely female … Tatiana Maslany absolutely steals the film as Claire … One of the best teen films this country’s ever produced.” Katarina Gligorijevic, Toronto Film Scene
Summer war games between the neighbourhood kids turn deadly serious when jealousy and betrayal enter the mix, in this alternately hilarious and horrifying black comedy that mixes equal parts Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl.
"Sharp, funny and edge-of-your-seat chilling, this darkly provocative actioner, starring a startlingly stellar all-kid ensemble cast, turns a neighbourhood woods game of Capture the Flag into a high-stakes round of no-holds-barred jungle warfare – with the rules about to be broken. The fantasy-tinged film nails the ferocious intensity of children’s games (the imaginary world feels real in the moment) while it plays with cinema conventions (coming-of-age stories, war tales, etc). An after-school special you won’t want to miss." 4 stars Globe & Mail
"I Declare War is everthing The Hunger Games attempts to be, but better - it says more with less, goes farther while staying smaller, and finds reality in a more fantastical scenario… A Lord Of The Flies for a new generation, I Declare War deserves to be seen by adults and needs to be seen by kids. We don’t often get action films of any kind that have this much to say, much less films that are this delicately balanced between mainstream appeal and realistic intensity. Smart, touching, and exciting, I Declare War is sure to be one of your favorites of this year or next." Renn Brown, CHUD
Established in 2004, the Student Film Showcase showcases the finest in student films from universities and colleges from across Canada. With the participation of the Film School Consortium this TIFF event presents a range of student films in diverse forms - including animation, documentary, fiction and experimental work - that represent the burgeoning talent of our nation’s next generation of filmmakers.
Genius: The Kevin Aussant Story
Kevin — and his mother — always believed he’d become the greatest screenwriter of all time. Gifted and confident, but discouraged by his father, Kevin finally moves to the big city to pursue his dream in this quirky comedy about the unshakable power of creativity.
Placement of the Grain
Sculpted monochromatic figures mutate into eerie renderings that are simultaneously transfixing and disturbing; if the Quay Brothers and David Cronenberg had an animated cinematic lovechild, it might look like Placement of the Grain.
On a small farm, two young brothers spend their day picking produce, tormenting chickens, throwing eggs at trains, and hunting each other with foam-dart guns. Daily life in the countryside is given a sensitive, subtle and patient treatment by director Dylan Stirewalt.
It’s a beautiful day in the mountains as a young boy, Snorkly, joins a day-camp race and lies to get onto the team of his choice, The Fanny Pack. Team Work is an absurd, hilarious film — a cross between Robot Chicken and South Park, with a touch more heart.
The Toronto blackout of 2003 is the focus of this animated documentary, which stitches personal anecdotes together with handcrafted illustrations to recall a moment when the vibrant Big Smoke was transformed into a magical, mysterious place.
Lou pumps gas at the local truck ’n’ go, but dreams of one day escaping with her BFF Chantal to "blow up" in the big city. Funny and brutally honest, Firecrackers paints a picture of small-town life filled with truck-stop diners, deadbeat adults, and the teenagers who hope to escape from both.
Sun of a Beach
Shunned for shining a little too brightly, the poor sun feels alone in its search to connect and be wanted. Good intentions fire up the screen in this fun and cheerful animated vignette. SPF 30 recommended.
Walter Woodman, Patrick Cederberg
In a story that plays out entirely on a teenager’s computer screen, Noah follows its eponymous protagonist as his relationship takes a rapid turn for the worse in this fascinating study of behaviour (and romance) in the digital age.
Eui Yong Zong
A sensitive documentary on the preservation of memories, Elizabeth follows Donald as he prepares to put to rest his companion of 18 years. This film is a raw, touching, and at times surprising portrait of grief and the difficulty of imagining life without a loyal partner.
Repurposing an old home movie clip of a family posing on a boat near port, Byron Chan loops the footage and reconfigures history in this captivating formal study of analogue archival material reshaped in the modern age.
Eileen H. Peng
A Brothers Grimm-inspired fairy tale given a striking animation treatment, Godfather Death tells the story of a young doctor whose godfather was — fittingly — Death. Empowered by his godfather’s gift of a potion that cures all disease, the doctor soon learns that the balance of life cannot be cheated.
Toronto artisan Ross Stuart has been hand-crafting banjos and ukuleles for years, but has found it hard to turn his work into a sole source of income. Rosbilt is as much a polished portrait of an honest, outspoken and hard-working man as it is an examination of artistic output as livelihood.
Basilisk, a greedy land-based creature with eyes only for a pot of gold, is on the run trying to track down his prize. A colourful, vivid animation reminiscent of the great Hayao Miyazaki, Basilisk and its animator Mami Thompson are names to watch out for
Opening Night supported by First Weekend Club. Come early to enjoy a reception, Siobhan Devine's Vancouver-made short film OMG (starring Gabrille Rose and Matreya Fedor, and a post screening Q&A with director Sean Garrity.
At 41, Nicole is at a point in her life when she is asking is this all there is - or whether she still has more to offer? One day she gets a letter from an anonymous observer who seems to know her daily habits intimately. More than that - he seems to intuit a potential Nicole herself has buried deep inside. He has a plan for her, if she is interested… And so begins a dance that is by turns adventurous, romantic, erotic, reckless and potentially disastrous.
“The plot will creep under your skin and raise your pulse.”
Chris Knight, The National Post
"Tightly crafted… very gripping with a fabulous performance by Michelle Giroux." Brian D Johnson, City TV
“Garrity fashions something tense, steely, and affecting out of a premise that might’ve yielded an erotic fantasy if the events here weren’t so rooted.” Jason Anderson, The Grid
From the World Cup to the remote Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, three students are on a quest. The catch is…the teacher. Soccer-obsessed, charismatic filmmaker, and citizen of the world, Khyentse Norbu may be one of the most eminent Tibetan Buddhist teachers, but it’s a job description he slyly seems to reject at every turn.
"Provocative and surprisingly fast-moving." Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight
Are animals sentient beings, or are they property? Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur has made it her life’s work to challenge the widespread willful ignorance that allows animal abuse to carry on unchecked. For more than a decade she has documented animals held in captivity to supply our food, clothing, scientific research, or simply our entertainment. Her photos are sometimes heartbreaking, but also often unexpectedly beautiful, always soulful, and inspiring. The same could be said of Liz Marshall’s film, which gives a sense of the horrors humans inflict on animals, but also the immense spiritual bond which many of us naturally feel for other living beings.
"A superb example of committed fimmaking." 4 stars. Susan Cole, Now magazine
A Canadian-made “porno chic” movie? It never happened! So historians say. But tonight’s screening proves otherwise as the never-released and unknown sexually-explicit [or: ‘X-rated’] horror-spoof Sexcula—-made entirely in British Columbia back in ’73—-screens in a World-Premiere of its original, unplayed 16mm answer-print. Produced with the help of Canadian film tax credits (that’s right—-taxpayers backed a porn movie—only in Canada!), Sexcula is one of the oddest entries in the colourful catalog of “Canuxploitation.”. Special guests to be announced.
There are men, and then there are men with beards. how your true face to the world. It’s not as easy as it looks! In fact for many men growing a beard is a challenge and even a rite of passage, a time when they reclaim their masculinity despite suspicion and derision from colleagues, bosses, friends and loved ones. If the results can be hairy - especially when confronted with a bowl of soup - they can also prove revelatory, opening up new channels of self expression and even sensuality.
A homegrown Sugarman, little-known Canadian actor Rob Stewart had no idea that a dumb, short-lived cop show he made 20 years ago was a cultural phenomenon in Serbia. Throughout the war years, Tropical Heat was far and away the most popular series on Serbian TV screens, and Stewart’s character Nick Slaughter became an icon for dissidents protesting the Milosevic regime. Venturing to Eastern Europe for the first time, Stewart discovers the extent of a fame he never knew he had.
"A winner!" National Post
"Heart and heft." Globe & Mail
"A real find… truly bizarre." The Star
With commentary provided by historian Michael Kluckner, this screening includes home movies, City-commissioned films, television shows produced by local stations and the community, and local advertisements from as far back as the 1940s. Those movies originally produced without sound will be accompanied live by pianist Wayne Stewart.
A People Uncounted tells the story of the Roma, commonly referred to as Gypsies-a people who have been both romanticized and vilified in popular culture. The Roma have endured centuries of intolerance and persecution in Europe, most notably the Holocaust genocide where an estimated 500,000 were murdered. A People Uncounted documents their culturally rich yet often difficult lives, and demonstrates how their present state has been deeply shaped by the tragedies of the past.
“Profoundly moving…a powerful documentary on the plight of the Roma people through history…an expansive essay on prejudice and the resilience of the human spirit. 4 stars” Montreal Gazette
"The eye witness accounts in this film cry out to be heard." Chris Knight, National Post
Why is the history of American humour so inextricably tied to Jewish identity? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.
A meditative, free-associative but entirely engrossing contemplation of the nature of time by the innovative non-fiction filmmaker Peter Mettler. Detroit, Big Island, India and CERN are just some of his philosophical pit-stops. Go with the (lava) floe.
"Recalling the work of Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and the late Chris Marker… The End of Time becomes immersive and hypnotic… a ravishingly beautiful experience." Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter.
"Peter Mettler’s poetic lens has inquired into everything from personal fulfillment (Gambling, Gods and LSD) to the Northern Lights (Picture of Light). Now he’s after his most elusive prey yet: the very human concept of time… [The End of Time] is of a piece with Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, a film that similarly finds miraculous unity in seemingly random things." Peter Howell, Toronto Star.
This wildly funny and original Vancouver satire focusses on a corrupt local politician with a strange neural complaint: he believes he’s the subject of a reality TV show (even though no one else can see the cameraman who dogs his every move).
“"Movies about movies" are tricky ground, but there are very few missteps here. The humor is pitch black, and had me laughing constantly.” —Zack Mosely, Quiet Earth
When livestock begin dying and people become mysteriously ill after gas leaks in Peace River Country in northwestern BC, a series of bombs are set off on the pipelines in reaction. "Trouble in the Peace" follows Karl Mattson, an enigmatic and reclusive cowboy, as he struggles to make sense of what’s happening to his town and the people in it. Feeling scared and alone, he embarks on a unique course of action in an attempt to save his family and unite the community.
Olympia Dukakis gives an brilliant, barnstorming performance as a foul-mouthed lesbian, Stella, who isn’t about to let her lover of 31 years, Dot (Brenda Fricker), be carted off to an old folks’ home without a fight. Her plan? A daring rescue, followed by flight to Canada and marriage - an elopement. Ryan Doucette is the hitchhiker who helps them sneak over the border - the Brad Pitt to their septuagenarian Thelma and Louise.
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
In 1968, homosexuality was illegal in NYC. Gay bars were dark, dirty, dangerous and mostly controlled by the syndicate. But then along came Steve Ostrow, opera singer and entrepreneur, with a grand vision. From the minute Ostrow opened the elegant Continental Bath and Health Club in the legendary Ansonia Hotel, it was a beacon for the hip, the beautiful and the infamous. With a cabaret stage featuring red hot performers like Bette Midler and Labelle, straight high society, celebs and hunky men in towels jammed into the same room, bringing gays into the open and ultimately playing a critical role in overturning anti-gay laws.
"Documentary gold. 4 stars." Glenn Sumi, Now magazine
"Intimate and fascinating… a slice of social and pop history that demands to be consumed." David Voigt, Examiner
"It’s a great story made even greater by Malcolm Ingram’s first-rate feature." Greg Klymkiw.
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