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
Presented in association with Black History Month, Music for Mandela explores the role music played in the remarkable life of one of the world’s few genuinely heroic politicians. Musical performances include celebrated artist Vusi Mahlasela, Grammy award-winning group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and new music from the internationally acclaimed Soweto Gospel Choir. Interviews include the legendary BB King, Sean Paul, Estelle, Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins and Mandela’s grandson, hip hop artist Bambatha Mandela.
Live musical tribute performed post screening by Benin musician Yoro Noukoussi.
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.
Set in the heart of the Middle Eastern community in North Vancouver, Kayan is a multifaceted story of love, belonging and loyalty. Hanin, a strong-headed Lebanese women,tries her best to keep Kayan, her struggling restaurant, afloat. A subtle, authentic movie about an everyday twentyfirst century heroine trying to make ends meet in a place far from home, this offers a strikingly different perspective on our city.
Kayan offers a glancing impression of Middle Eastern diaspora life through a vivid rendering of a busy Lebanese restaurant in Vancouver. Iran-born helmer Maryam Najafi films an actual eatery, enlisting its staff and clientele to play themselves; their seamless perfs contribute to the pic’s docu-like veracity, led by thesp Oula Hamadeh’s magnetic presence in a complex leading role." Maggie Lee, Variety
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
Inspired by the collective experiences of Harriet Tubman and many Freedom Seekers who traveled to Canada through the Underground Railroad, Seth-Adrian Harris’s debut relates their journeys through Afro-modern dance, poetic realism, and the music of resilience and triumph performed by Canada’s national treasure, Jackie Richardson. Through a weaving of dream sequences, we are taken on a great voyage with a woman named Moses whose spiritual awakening becomes the beacon of Hope for all seekers on the quest for freedom.
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
From the early 1900s to the 1960s, the East Side neighbourhood of Strathcona was home to Vancouver’s first and only black community.The ten video stories of the BlackStrathcona media project celebrate some of the remarkable people and places that made the community vibrant and unique.
Presented by Creative Cultural Collaborations Society in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre
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
Part Hitchcockian mystery thriller, part quirky new-wave comedy, this free-wheeling Quebecois audience-pleaser riffs on our brave new digitally interconnected world with nimble wit and an underlying seriousness. A coat-check girl follows a misplaced key into a turpid conspiracy and finds romance - and political engagmnent - en route.
"A genre mashup that keeps audiences amused from beginning to end." Boyd van Hoeij, Variety
The intense, remarkable life of the Chilean singer-songwriter Violeta Parra is explored with sensitivity and exquisite lightness of touch in Andrés Wood’s [drama]. Featuring a searching central performance from Francisca Gavilán, this beautifully lensed portrait moves elegantly back and forth in time to limn the life of a woman who perpetually struggled to find her place.—Variety. Winner, World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic, Sundance 2012.
Oscar Godoy’s debut feature Ulysses is a classic migrant’s tale; Julio (Jorge Roman) may be a Peruvian man looking for a new life in Santiago de Chile, but Godoy is taking on a universal narrative here. With its alienating city scapes and anonymous shopping malls, Santiago could be any city in the world, likewise Ulysses is mining a cinematic seam which is intriguing, but also very familiar.
Master director Jia Zhangke’s most popular film yet, this Cannes prize-winning drama shows China’s gangsters, massage parlours, vicious bosses and desperate workers drawn into a whirlwind of violence, passion and vengeance. This brilliantly achieved film is a vital state-of-China bulletin, torn straight from today’s bloody headlines.
"A blistering fictionalized tale straight out of China, "A Touch of Sin" is at once monumental and human scale." Manohla Dargis, New York Times
"A bold, invigorating statement from a director who keeps reinventing himself." Scott Tobias, The Dissolve
"Intensely, consistently gripping." AA Dowd, AV Club
VANCOUVER PREMIERE - An intimate look at students and masters living in scattered retreats dotting China’s Zhongnan Mountain range today. These peaks have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor. Filmed on location in China with humor and compassion, presenting the hardships and joy of their everyday lives among the clouds.