Three award-winning short films from Turkey: Silent (12 min) Dir Rezan Yesilbas; Country (22 min) Dir Onur Yağız; Uncle Seref and His Shadow (15 min) Dir Buğra Dedeoğlu
Two documentary short features. My Child (82 mins) is about very courageous and inspiring group of mothers and fathers in Turkey who are parents of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender individuals. They have not only gone through the difficult path of accepting their children for who they are but also have taken the next step to share their experiences with other LGBT families and the public. Taşkafa (66 min) is a feature documentary film about memory and the most necessary forms of belonging, both to a place and to history, through a search for the role played in the city by Istanbul’s street dogs and their relationship to its human populations
Ali Aydın’s elegantly composed cinematic fete deservedly won him the “Lion of the Future” award at the 69th Venice Film Festival. Basri spends his life in self-imposed isolation following the disappearance of his only son and the subsequent death of his wife, his hope has failed to dwindle. For almost two decades, he has penned and sent monthly petitions to local authorities, much to their annoyance, to uncover the truth about his child.
"Unpretentious and satisfyingly complete… [Aydin] couldn’t have found a better vessel than Kesal, known for his collaborations as both actor and co-scripter with Nuri Bilge Ceylan… Kesal’s Basri is the kind of nondescript man no one notices - whether glimpsed on the street or in a cafe, few would spend time wondering about his backstory. Making this poignant figure a source of sympathy and depth with a minimum of information is a significant achievement for both [actor] and director." Jay Weissberg, Hollywood Reporter
In Turkish auteur Reha Erdem’s genre-defying film Singing Women a group of distressed women struggle with their tribulations, united by extraordinary reserves of energy, courage, hope and faith. As the women transform their tragedy with songs of rebellion and life, they also infect the frustrated, never grown-up child Adem with the joys of being human. The film follows them throughout their inspiring, humanistic journeys into the different dimensions of existence.
Thou Gild’st the Even is a fantastically surreal fable depicting the existential ennui of the super power possessing residents of a rural Aegean town. The film centers on Cemal (Ali Atay), a chronically anxious young man who falls deeply in love with the beguiling Yasemin (Demet Evgar) after a failed suicide attempt. Laden with a heavy Shakespearean influence that imbues magical realism into the quotidian life and bearing intense outbursts of sporadic violence that may even put Tarantino to shame, this film is a true cinematic gift to the sincere cinephile.
"Thou Gilds’t the Even is a beautiful shimmery thing, shot in black and white of the lush variety. Infused throughout with wit, deadpan humor, and charming visual effects, the movie is quite unlike anything else you’ll see this year." Brandy Dean, Pretty Clever Films
"The real strength of Ünlü’s films lies in their ability to create a dramatic impact despite all their absurdity and the constant bombardment of over-the-top jokes. In Thou Gild’st the Even, Ünlü is at his best creating an utter sense of desolation even during the funniest moments, and interrupting the most dramatic scenes with unexpected jokes." Berke Göl, FIPRESCI
"Moving at a staccato rhythm, Unlu’s film benefits from a cast that intuitively seems to blend into their parts." Dan Fainaru, Screen
Turkey’s 2014 Oscar Submission for Best Foreign Language Film. centers on two friends, Muzaffer (Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ) and Rüştü (Mert Fırat), both young aspiring poets in 1940s Turkey. The arrival of Suzan (Belçim Bilgin), the beautiful and affluent new girl in town, prompts them to wage a bet. Each will pen a poem and submit it blindly for the girl to make her choice. As the friends both start falling for Suzan, they must also endure the problems of disease, poverty and compulsory work in the mines at the time of the Second World War. Based on a true story.
"A sumptuously mounted and well-acted period drama… The idea that love and poetry feed off of each other is illustrated beautifully." Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter
"With its lively pace… likable performers and lush picture-postcard look, The Butterfly’s Dream is to poetry what Titanic was to nautical disasters." Dennis Harvey, Variety
"Irresistibly lyrical." Indiewire
On a hot summer’s night in Istanbul; Ece (Nehir Erdoğan) pays a visit to Cenk (İlker Kaleli) and once buried feelings are suddenly reignited. Moments later they notice a thief, a young boy, who escapes into the darkness. The evening takes a turn for the worse following the sudden appearance of yet another thief…
A huge hit in Turkey this year, Coming Soon is a love letter to the golden days of Turkish Cinema and an homage to all those earning their livelihoods in the film industry. Ex-film extra Zafer (Cem Yılmaz) decides to alter his ways when his wife Arzu (Tülin Özen) suddenly walks out on their marriage. Promising to abandon his world of petty crime primarily revolving around DVD piracy, Zafer, with the help of some eccentric film industry pals, sets out to realize an age-old film project collecting dust since the 70s…
Set in a conservative 1970s Turkish town, Whisper If I Forget tells the captivating story of Hanife (Işıl Yücesoy), a young taciturn nurse with a penchant for poetry, and her unruly, polar opposite sister Hatice (Farah Zeynep Abdullah), an aspiring chanteuse. Their lives are changed forever with the arrival of Tarık (Mehmet Günsür), the easy-on-the-eyes son of the newly appointed district governor.
The documentary Turkish Passport tells the story of the diplomats posted to Turkish embassies and consulates in several European countries who saved numerous Jews during the Second World War.
11-year-old Aslan finds a wounded fighting dog left to die in a ditch. He adopts the dog - Sivas - and they become friends. Meanwhile, Osman, Aslan’s rival-in-love and son of the village head, clinches the role of Prince in the school play. As Osman gets closer to Ayşe, the “princess” of the village, Aslan tries to impress her with his newfound friend. And Sivas, having found a new lease on life, wins one fight after another, strengthening Aslan’s hand.
"[A] tough, imposing debut feature… distinguished by its muscular technical brio and rich, integral sense of place." Guy Lodge, Variety
"The best thing about Sivas is the sense of the uncomfortable age at which Aslan finds himself, no longer a true kid but not yet a full-fledged teenager either… And as Aslan, the nonprofessional Izci, often very intense, is a true find…" Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter
Legendary Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and political dissident Fela Kuti is brought to life in Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s (Taxi to the Dark Side) stirring evocation of the man and his music. Kuti’s raw charisma, many wives, mesmerizing musical performances and political aspirations and persecution have been covered before, but Gibney’s decision to fold in behind-the-scenes documentation of the 2009 Broadway musical Fela! makes this kaleidoscopic film as protean and rousing as Kuti himself was.
"There’s nothing like seeing Fela himself - blowing his sax, expressing his unbridled sexuality and living a life like no other." New York Daily News
If this isn’t quite all you wanted to know about Nick Cave but were afraid to ask, at least it’s all the great Australian singer-songwriter, novelist, screenwriter, actor is ready to share - which is more than enough to be getting on with. It’s part personal inventory, part artistic manifesto, part fantasy, part rock show, and pure Nick Cave.
“Probably best music doc I’ve ever seen… so much more than music. Beautifully made” Wendy Mitchell, Screen International
“Incredible. Puts most music films to shame. So inventive and inspiring.” Dave Calhoun, Time Out
“Probably best music doc I’ve ever seen… so much more than music. Beautifully made” Wendy Mitchell, Screen International
"Revelatory, and wonderful." Stephanie Zacherek, Village Voice
Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. You know you need to see this genuine Christmas classic as it was intended to be seen, on the big screen. Jimmy Stewart’s finest hour.
Just in time for Christmas … the noirest of the noir and the last extravaganza that Orson Welles directed for a Hollywood studio, Touch of Evil is considered to be one his greatest movies achievements. There is a lot of plot, but it’s more of a character story about the grunting, wheezing detective Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles), a man who is truly in hell. The concept of borders and "crossing the line" is essential to Touch of Evil as many taboo topics are addressed in this baroque nightmare of a south-of-the-border mystery.
How does a 16-year-old evolve into a bank robber?
"Vital, thoughtful, and deeply personal, first-timer Darius Clark Monroe’s autobiographical doc stands as a testament to the power of movies to stir empathy. At age 16, honor-student Monroe had dabbled in employee-theft at the Venture store where he worked after school. Next, restless and foolhardy, he set his criminal sights higher, corralling a couple of friends and busting into a Stafford, Texas, Bank of America. Monroe wore a skeleton mask, one accomplice wielded a sawed-off shotgun, and a couple hours later Monroe’s mother found a shoebox on her bed filled with thirty grand. Monroe’s film is an inquiry into who he was becoming — and who he became during a five-year prison sentence." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
Yogananda was the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. This unconventional documentary has won critical plaudits everywhere it has screened.
"Fittingly enlightening, Awake: The Life of Yogananda is a vivid, elegantly assembled portrait of the savvy guru with the cherubic face and penetrating gaze who brought meditation to the West." Michael Rechtschaffen, LA Times
"Gentle sitar music, languorous camerawork and soothing narration… This could be a good movie to do yoga by." The New York Times
Tacoma garage rock band Girl Trouble has always traveled on their own unique and idiosyncratic musical path. For over 30 years, they have been standard- bearers for the collaborative spirit and do-it-yourself aesthetic that the Northwest’s indie rock scene was founded on. Director Isaac Olsen weaves together the band’s treasure trove of treasured memorabilia with present-day interviews with the band’s numerous collaborators, including Neko Case, Calvin Johnson, and Art Chantry. But ultimately, Olsen wisely lets the band members tell the story of their journey from self-proclaimed “weirdos” to Tacoma’s local champions and defenders of rock and roll.
Chosen by VIFF Vancity Theatre members, this year’s free New Year’s Eve event movie is Edgar Wright’s anti-blockbuster, a hipster’s comic book adaptation chock full of great gags and inventive fun. When under-employed underground hero Scott Pilgrim (the cutely anxious Michael Cera) takes up with a cool American girl, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he must fight it out with her seven exes in videogame-style battles.
It’s the perfect appetizer for a memorable New Year’s Eve. Pre-order your free tickets at viff.org Doors at 5.45, Film at 7.00
"Full of fresh, sharp touches and nonchalantly brash performances, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World consistently hits the sweet spot." Tom Charity, CNN.com
"Its speedy, funny, happy-sad spirit is so infectious that the movie makes you feel at home in its world." AO Scott, New York Times
"Like an animatronic kitten that won’t leave you alone, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World wins its audience over on adorable persistence." Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
VIFF Vancity Theatre and the Cinematheque join together this weekend to celebrate the centenary of a cinema landmark. In the Land of the Head Hunters was the first feature film made in B.C. and is the oldest extant feature made in Canada. It’s also the first feature made with an entirely indigenous North American cast and arguably the first ever documentary feature. A portrait of the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) people of northern Vancouver Island and the central coast, it was directed by Edward S. Curtis, the renowned American photographer of First Nations life.