ITALIAN FILM FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT GALA
The opening night gala for the inaugura Vancouverl Italian Film Festival includes an exhibition of drawings by Federico Fellini inspired by his love of food; live music by Roy & Rosemary; catered reception with Italian wine and food, and the Canadian premiere of the documentary short Federico of the Spirits, plus a special screening of one Fellini’s most beloved masterpieces, Amarcord, in 35mm.
Fellini exhibition: Live music (Roy & Rosemary). Wine, hors d’oeuvres
6.00, 6.30 FEDERICO OF THE SPIRITS (20 min)
7.00 Introductory remarks + film screening: AMARCORD
9.15 Catered reception. Live music.
Shortly after turning 50 and at the height of his career, Federico Fellini returned to the seaside town of Rimini, where he grew up, to make Amarcord (a neologism that suggests "mi ricordo" in the Emiliano-Romagnolo dialect: I remember).
Set in the 1930s, the film has the free-wheeling form that became one of Fellini’s hallmarks. It allows him to swing back and forth between ribald comedy, fantasy and melancholy.
"Amarcord is the least grandiose and most immediate of the maestro’s later films and deserves to be rated among the finest screen memoirs of the 20th century. It offers an extraordinarily lyrical and vivid succession of vignettes, inside the most subtly rigorous narrative structure of Fellini’s career. […] Although the figure of the boy Titta is obviously his alter ego, Fellini builds a generously fractured mosaic that belongs to no one central character or even the on-screen narrator… Like many autobiographical tales written or filmed, this one weaves the innocent, limited viewpoint of children into its wider social context, which here heralds the reign of fascism in Italy in the 30s. Poignant indeed is the gap, gradually revealed to the viewer, between the hints of violence and social exclusion to come (especially in relation to the Jewish population), and the life-affirming antics of youth. […] Fellini’s comedy, refreshingly, goes to the outer limits of vulgarity in a number of hilarious scenes. His style is streamlined here into a pure, exalted poetry of mist, flowing camera movements, pastel colours, and lightly artificial set design. A triumph of artistic form, its emotions are direct and affecting." Adrian Martin
Composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) contributes a lovely score to this visually dazzling Tang dynasty court intrigue starring Zhang Ziyi and Ge You (Farewell My Concubine). Mixing extraordinary pageantry with passionate, balletic martial arts sequences choreographed by the great Yuen Wo-ping, The Banquet is a sexed up Hamlet, a thrilling aesthetic experience in the tradition of Hero and House of the Flying Daggers.
"Highly entertaining costume melodrama on a magnificent canvas." Sean Axmaker, MSN
"Stunningly beautiful." Philip French, The Observer
"As eye-opening as it is thought-provoking… Brings new life to a classic… A true work of art." Bill Gibron, Pop Matters
Abel Ferrara’s (Bad Lieutenant, King Of New York) 1981 revenge thriller classic Ms. 45 follows a mute garment-district seamstress – played by the late model/actress/musician/screenwriter Zoë Tamerlis – who after falling victim to multiple unspeakable assaults, ignites her one-woman homicidal rampage against New York City’s entire male population. Now remastered in HD from the original negative materials.
["Ferrera] is clearly a talented fellow. One can only hope he finds something else to make movies about very soon." Janet Maslin, New York Times
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
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.
Ricky likes lines, shapes, designs. So much so that he can’t quite decipher the more practical banalities we need to grasp to navigate safely from A to B. Autistic and alone on the New York subway, the 13 year old is trapped in a spiral of urban alienation and solipsism while his desperate mother forlornly searches the streets of Queens ahd Hurrican Sandy approaches…
"Wonderfully witty and understated ... A small miracle of a film."—Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Fascinating and beautiful ... an impressionistic record of the subway experience circa exactly right now."—Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"An exceptional film ... richly textured and fully engaging."—Amy Taubin, Art Forum
José Henrique Fonseca
He was the soccer player Pele idolized in the 1940s, Brazil’s best striker, a dashing, cavalier talent with movie star looks and a burning desire to win. But Heleno was also an erratic talent, plagued with psychological problems, and despised by some of his teammates. His career was brilliant, but cut brutally short as he mental problems mounted.
"Fonseca’s handsome black-and-white, impressionistic bio-drama goes very Raging Bull-ish… (Santoro) is mighty matinee-idol charismatic himself in the title role, alternating between swaggering lady-killer and ravaged victim of self-destruction. B+" Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
"Powerfully acted and dazzlingly shot in heavenly black and white, Heleno is a feverish opera…. The road to ruin is blindingly beautiful." Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
Paulo Henrique Fontenelle
The "Brazilian Beatles", Os Mutantes combined rock, psychedelia and South American sounds to spearhead the Tropicalia movement. A singer-songwriter who also played bass and the keyboards, Arnaldo Baptista gave the band its pulse - guitarist Sergio Dias was his brother, and lead singer Rita Lee became his wife. In 1973, though, everything fell apart, marriage, band, and eventually Baptista’s health (copious binges on LSD did not help). Yet against the odds Baptista has been able to recover his creativity and his career. This intimate documentary has a powerful, sometimes painful story to tell. Baptista is joined by collaborators and admirers Gilberto Gil, Sean Lennon, Devendra Banhart and Roberto Menescal.
"A magnificent documentary." Claudio Carvalho
Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard
With the permission of screenwriter, star and singer Nick Cave, we’re thrilled to offer this special advance screening of his latest work, a not entirely plausible record of a day in the life of the man himself.
“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
Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Conceived as a guided meditation on the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, Samsara is audiovisual poetry. Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and brilliantly shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. From the filmmakers of Baraka.
40 years ago, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist redefined screen terror with its slow but atmospheric build up mounting to a sustained crescendo of graphic, visceral horror. Audiences had never seen special effects like these before, and reacted with panic and revulsion - as if Satan himself was at loose in this film.
"A credible portrait of the modern, urban world ripped apart by an obscene, ancient evil… the graphic desecration of everything considered wholesome and good about the fading American Dream - the home, the family, the church, and, most shockingly, the child." Mark Kermode
Named by Quentin Tarantino as one of the 12 best films ever made, this legendary box office disaster was one of the movies that put an end to the era of directorial power in Hollywood (certainly for Exorcist and French Connection filmmaker William Friedkin). A remake of French classic The Wages of Fear, about the transportation of cans of nitroglycerin by truck across a nameless Latin American country, this is nailbiting adventure cinema at its best.
"An audacious masterpiece! Friedkin’s reinterpretation of Clouzot’s 1953 masterpiece is among his most daring works. Three sequences alone— a chaotic car crash in Boston, the unloading of charred bodies in a Central American village, and the explosives-laden trucks crossing a rickety storm-blown bridge — render Sorcerer a classic and retain their power to make audiences gasp. Released the same year as Star Wars, [it] represents the braver road abandoned by the studio system.”—Haden Guest
Dylan Fries, Michael Sanders
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.
When superstar Canadian director Robert Lepage is invited to stage Wagner’s the Ring Cycle at New York’s Metropolitan Opera it was never going to be a routine production. Susan Froemke follows the backstage progress of a controversial but visually astounding show that tested everyone involved to their limits.
"Simply the best documentary about the Met ever made." Film Journal
"Destined to be one of the classic documentaries about opera." Philadelphia Inquirer
"A rousing portrait of creative renewal and, specifically, the way in which – by attempting something daring and new in the face of an opera culture deeply invested in tradition – Lepage proves that classic art can survive and flourish in a marriage with modern technology and imagination." – The Village Voice
Lisa Fruchtman, Rob Fruchtman
Ice cream, music and collective action all play a part in this alternately joyous and sobering documentary about the challenges in opening the first ever ice cream parlor in Kigali, Rwanda.
Post screening entertainment will be a drumming performance by women drummers led by Jacky Essombe.
"It’s utterly rousing watching the women master their instruments and then push past the birth pains of their new business enterprise, and it’s completely wrenching as their individual backstories unfold. The vibrantly filmed Dreams (the Rwandan landscape is breathtaking) is a powerful entry in the list of documentaries charting the country’s rebirth, illustrating the unexpected ways the human spirit reinvents itself after enduring the unthinkable." Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly
"Wonderful… Moving… Engrossing. An affecting celebration of the human spirit. Contagious joy abounds." Anita Katz, San Francisco Examiner
"A movie that will bring you to tears." Deena Shanker, Village Voice
Curated by photographer Greg Girard, who will introduce the films: House of Bamboo & Long Arm of the Law The Walled City of Kowloon was an amazing and forbidding part of Hong Kong, and who better to introduce these films in which it features so centrally than photographer Greg Girard, whose book City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City is itself now legendary.
HOUSE OF BAMBOO The first Hollywood movie to be shot in Japan after WWII, and also the first film to be shot in CinemaScope in that country, House of Bamboo is vividly alert to places and spaces. One of the iconic film noir hard men, Robert Ryan is an ex GI operating an American crime gang on strict military lines. Robert Stack infiltrates the group, but getting in is easier than getting out in one piece.
"A masterpiece that pinpoints the sublime in Fuller’s sensationalism and earns every inch of its widescreen real estate! Turning the on-location Tokyo streets into the perfect backdrop for a cartoonishly colorful version of hardboiled drama—call it Pulp Art— House of Bamboo keeps its story line about an undercover Army cop (Stack) battling a gangster (Ryan) on the lean and mean side. But the impeccable compositions Fuller uses to detail the lyrical and the lurid give even the most lowbrow elements a high-art feel; it’s like a bridge from the gutter to the museum." - David Fear, Time Out New York
"Some of the most stunning examples of widescreen photography in the history of cinema. Travelling to Japan on 20th Century Fox’s dime, Fuller captured a country divided, trapped between past traditions and progressive attitudes while lingering in the devastating aftereffects of an all-too-recent World War. His visual schema represents the societal fractures through a series of deep-focus, Noh-theatrical tableaus, a succession of silhouettes, screens, and stylized color photography that melds the heady insanity of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with the philosophical inquiry of the best noirs." Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
Equal parts drama, comedy and thriller, The Landlords is a riveting film from actor-turneddirector, Edoardo Gabbriellini with a sensational cast including legendary real-life singer Gianni Morandi making a return to the big screen after 40 years. Cosimo (Valerio Mastandrea) and Elia (Elio Germano) are two young brothers dreaming of success in the construction business. They travel from Rome to a remote Apennines mountain village where they have been contracted to rebuild a villa for the retired singer Fausto Mieli, a divisive local figure who is planning a comeback concert.