If you think Amour was too sentimental, then this extraordinary documentary from Brian Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (Frances) is just what you crave: the filmmakers spent years visiting a nursing home, charting the progress of senility, dementia, and of course death among the residents. All this narrated with bleak, wrily philosophical humor by one of their number. The film is not journalistic, but poetic, a "dirge", in the words of the filmmakers - and one you will not forget in a hurry.
"The Patron Saints was the single best film I saw during the festival run of Putty Hill." - Matt Porterfield
"Mainly, this observational realism serves the filmmakers exceedingly well, creating a humane, almost elegiac atmosphere, with occasional flashes of black humour, all of it heightened by a soundtrack of choral music that culminates in Arvo Part’s ethereal version of My Heart’s in the Highlands." Kate Taylor, Globe & Mail
"Bleak, moving, expressionistic." NOW magazine
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
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
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.
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.
Hot from its Canadian premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, we’re proud to present you with the ultimate guide to yuletide novelty records. Through rollicking live performances, intimate interviews and a kaleidoscope of touching and kooky archive, the film journeys deep into the Christmas cosmos, uncovering the remarkable stories behind twelve of the weirdest, wildest, most poignant Christmas songs you’ve never heard.
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
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.
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.
Presenting the true "behind the scenes" story of the rescue mission mythologized in last year’s Oscar-winner Argo - this time with due recognition of the pivotal role played by Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor.
"An intelligent, complex and tension-filled story that breathes life into historical events that are fast fading from our collective memory.
In doing so, the co-directors give Taylor (the diplomat) and many others their due and give Canadians at large a reason to feel rightly proud." Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star
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.
Last September Neil Young spoke for many when he likened Fort McMurray to Hiroshima, "a wasteland". Local inhabitants were outraged, and at least one radio station banned Young from its playlist. Vancouver filmmaker Charles Wilkinson (Peace Out) treads a middle-ground with Oil Sands Karaoke, a portrait of the tar sands capital which includes both sobering vistas of massive environmental upheaval and an affectionate, non-judgmental look at the folks who live and work there, mostly when they’re letting their hair down at Bailey’s karaoke bar.
"Surprisingly sensitive… poignant, and beautifully shot." Marsha Lederman, Globe & Mail
Introduced by UBC Film professor Ernest Mathijs, author of the first book length study of the movie, a rare chance to see arguably the best Canadian horror movie of the new millennium in 35mm. Emily Perkins and Katherine Isabelle star.
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
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.