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Thomas Balmès

The Best of Hot Docs
Director: Thomas Balmès

Having never left his Himalayan village, an eight-year-old monk eagerly awaits the imminent arrival of television and internet (and the window they offer to the wider world). This strikingly beautiful film allows us to witness huge change through this young monk’s eyes.

"Outstanding… Happiness is a film to cherish." POV Magazine

"This is nonfiction film making at its finest." The Matinee

Jeff Barnaby

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Jeff Barnaby

Dark, delirious and made under the sign of Scorsese, Rhymes for Young Ghouls is the angriest, punkiest, least "Canadian" Canadian movie you’ll see all year, and an electrifying feature debut from writer-director Jeff Barnaby. "Weed princess" Aila (the sensational Kawennahere Devery Jacobs) is used to looking out for herself on the Red Crow res, but when her old man gets out from prison things only get harder…

"It’s a tough, gritty piece of work, long on the violence but invested with the poetic sensibility you find in a Cormac McCarthy novel or Tom Waits song… [It] marks the arrival of a genuine cinematic intelligence, one sensitive to life’s more intimate, tender, even spiritual moments yet not averse to slamming the sledgehammer as circumstances require."—James Adams, Globe and Mail

’Exhibiting a vivid eye for potent imagery and a striking sense of the downtrodden vitriol [Rhymes For Young Ghouls] is a tremendously rousing film that announces the arrival of an exciting new voice in Canadian cinema." Scott A Gray, exclaim

"It has been years, probably since Xavier Dolan emerged with I Killed My Mother, since a Canadian director has debuted with a movie as impressive as Jeff Barnaby and Rhymes for Young Ghouls." Marina Antunes, Row Three

Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Lisa Barros D'Sa, Glenn Leyburn

Forget the Troubles and get your "Teenage Kicks" instead! Set in 70s Belfast, this is an appropriately unconventional biopic dedicated to the gregarious godfather of Northern Irish punk, record shop entrepreneur Tom Hooley - the man who launched The Undertones (then gave them away for an autograph).

"An impasssioned, funny and monumentally likeable myth-making comedy." Time Out

Noah Baumbach

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Noah Baumbach

Greta Gerwig is delightful - a kind of modern day Annie Hall - in this lovely, deft, funny/sad movie from Noah Baumbach. Frances Halladay is 27, living in New York, and not really pulling things together yet. She’s in the wrong job, and her most intimate friend is her flatmate, who’s moving out. Simultaneously optimistic and melancholy, romantic and unsentimental, it’s the finest comedy of the year.

"An irresistibly lovely, melancholic acknowledgment that love is impossible, and that the more candid a young woman is, the less eligible she becomes in the standard romantic sweepstakes… Frances Ha also marks the rare instance in which an actress has the perfect role at the perfect time. Ms. Gerwig’s work here is fragile, delicate, subject to bruising; something that could wither under too much attention. Perhaps Ms. Gerwig is the greatest actress alive. And maybe Frances Ha is just the ghost orchid of independent cinema." John Anderson, Wall Street Journal

"There’s an optimism and an empathy in “Frances Ha” that feels genuine and earned.The plot doesn’t build to a gigantic, sweeping climax, but the understated final moments made me happier than any other filmgoing experience I’ve had all year." Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Mario Bava

(La maschera del demonio)
Witches
Director: Mario Bava

Barbara Steele became an icon for horror fans with her double role in this Mario Bava’s unforgettable debut feature. She plays both the innocent Katia, and the witch-vampiress Asa Vajda, who returns to life in 1830, 200 years after she was tortured and executed.

Shot in black and white by the former cinematographer, this gothic classic has an extraordinary creepy atmosphere and shots that imprint themselves on the back of your skull, almost with the force of that mask of death which gave the film its original Italian title.

"One of the movies that remain with me probably stronger than anything is Black Sunday… there’s a lot of old films – [Bava’s] in particular – where the vibe and the feeling is what it’s about… [t]he feeling’s a mixture of eroticism, of sex, of horror and starkness of image, and to me that is more real than what most people would consider realism in films…" Tim Burton

Xavier Beauvois

(Des hommes et des dieux)
Mongrel Media 20th Anniversary
Director: Xavier Beauvois

Loosely based on a real incident involving a Cistercian order of monks kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria, Beauvois’s film is an austere but gripping meditation on faith and fraternity.

"Of Gods and Men, a transcendent drama of uplift and inspiration, reveals the cavernous divide between heaven and Earth." Peter Howell, Globe and Mail

"Beautiful, somber and rigorously intelligent." AO Scott, New York Times

Dana Ben-Ari

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Dana Ben-Ari

With unexpected humor, with an unflinching camera, with some guilt and some pain, this film takes the unusual risk of examining what breast milk truly means. We are often told that breast milk is better. Better for babies, better for mothers, better for nutrition, health, well-being, and society. Many accept this and yet there are still very few women who succeed in breastfeeding exclusively for the recommended six months and beyond. What would it take to change?

"There are Portlandia-worthy moments amid the talk of breast pumps, latching and engorgement, and also surprising insights with implications beyond the nursery."Sheri Linden, LA Times

"Gently affecting and insightful."Variety

Malik Bendjelloul

Music Mondays
Director: Malik Bendjelloul

One of the most acclaimed - and revelatory - music documentaries in the last few years, this Academy Award-winning film investigates, the life, work and mysterious disappearance of the 70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez. Screening in tribute to director Malik Bendjelloul, who committed suicide earlier this year.

"A hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing." Manohla Dargis, New York Times

"All you really have to know about this surprising and emotive music doc is that you should see it." Trevor Johnston, Time Out

Neal Berkeley

DOCside
Director: Neal Berkeley

Beauty Is Embarrassing is a funny, irreverent, joyful and inspiring documentary featuring the life and current times of one of America’s most important artists, Wayne White. "One of the most pleasurable moviegoing experiences I’ve had this year." Leonard Maltin

"One of the most pleasurable moviegoing experiences I’ve had this year." Leonard Maltin

"White is such a hysterically funny, wacky and weird guy that the documentarian need only train his camera upon him in order to make it entertaining. It is a genuinely hilarious film, but it’s funny because of the pathos too, the sadness in White that makes him want to live everyday to its fullest, to make a silly puppet because it’s fun, and why not today?" Katie Walsh, The Playlist

"This movie ought to be required viewing, not just for Oscar voters but for every aspiring artist wondering how to build a life doing what they love. Beauty is Embarrassing isn’t simply a testament to the talents of Wayne White; it’s a snapshot of the ways in which creativity and the business of daily living can be inseparably fused." Elina Shatkin, LA Magazine

Joe Berlinger

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Joe Berlinger

When Jack Nicholson played a merciless Boston gangster in Scorsese’s The Departed, it was immediately recognised as a portrait of the notorious Whitey Bulger - at that time, still topping the FBI’s Most Wanted List (though that didn’t stop him attending the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver in 2011). When Whitey was eventually brought to trial, at last his victims had a chance to face this killer and extortionist face justice. But in a bizarrre twist, many found themselves siding with the case for the defence, as they attempted to prove that, contrary to Government claims, Bulger was not and never had been an FBI informant.

"Like five seasons of The Wire distilled into one epic episode."  Globe and Mail

"A chilling, immediate true-crime story."  NOW magazine

Clio Bernard

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Clio Bernard

Set on the outskirts of Bradford in Northern England, the second feature from Clio Barnard (The Arbor) follows two young lads, Arbor (Conner Chapman) and Swifty (Shaun Thomas), and their dealings with a local scrap dealer. Boldly cinematic and featuring astonishing performances from the two leads, The Selfish Giant cements Barnard’s reputation as a visionary filmmaker.

"Devastating in its simplicity and honesty, The Selfish Giant is a colossus of feeling." Inkoo Kang, Village Voice

"Boldly, broodingly cinematic… jaggedly moving." Guy Lodge, Variety

"A film of such power and beauty that there will be no escaping it." David Thomson, New Republic

Tom Berninger

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Tom Berninger

When Matt Berninger, the lead singer of The National, invited his under-achieving younger brother Tom along as a roadie on the band’s European tour, he thought he was doing him a favour. What he hadn’t banked on was Tom filming the whole thing - even as he screws up the most rudimentary tasks asked of him, like catching the tour bus, for example… A tour film like no other, this is oddly touching, very honest, and very funny.

"Poignant and hilarious." NME

"Brutal, hilarious, unexpectedly honest." The Hollywood Reporter

"The best documentary we have seen all year." The New York Observer

Bernardo Bertolucci

(Io e te)
Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci

Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor, Last Tango In Paris, The Conformist) returns to his native Italy for what may be his swansong, an intimate yet refreshingly innocent chamber piece about a teenage boy who ducks out of a school field trip and hides out in a disused basement. But his plans for a perfect getaway are thrown when his older half sister discovers his whereabouts…

"Bertolucci’s witty, potent little film showed Cannes that he is still a force to be reckoned with."Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"A masterclass in small-scale filmmaking."Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Luc Besson

SPARK FX
Director: Luc Besson

Paris, 1911: When a pterodactyl hatches in a museum and begins terrorising the town, clueless detective Caponi (Lellouche) seeks the connection between the prehistoric menace, a mad old professor (Nercessian) conducting resurrection experiments and intrepid reporter Adèle Blanc-Sec (Bourgoin), whose pursuit of ancient artefacts is a desperate personal mission…

A whimsical, madcap action adventure romp in the spirit of Indiana Jones from the director of The Fifth Element, Nikita and Leon: The Professional.

"This is utterly delightful from start to finish, thanks to a witty script, gorgeous production design, enjoyably pacey direction and a wonderful performance from Louise Bourgoin. Highly recommended and one of the best films of the year. Don’t leave before the end credits." Matthew Turner, This Is London

Eve Best

Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen
Director: Eve Best

From its mesmerising first moments to the last fulfilment of the witches’ prophecy, Shakespeare’s gripping account of the profoundest engagement with the forces of evil enthrals the imagination.

"A cracking, at times terrifying, production."Daily Telegraph

Angad Singh Bhalla

DOCside
Director: Angad Singh Bhalla

Herman Wallace has spent 40 years imprisoned in solitary confinement in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell for a crime many believe he never committed. The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in Herman’s House, a feature documentary from first-time director Angad Singh Bhalla, that follows the unlikely friendship between Jackie Sumell a New York artist, and Herman Wallace, one of America’s most famous inmates, as they collaborate on an acclaimed art project.

"Conceptually inventive, poetic and original, Herman’s House achieves a great feat in constructing a compelling narrative about a man we never meet and goals that aren’t quite reached… In the end, none can contain this unique and moving story, and we are left with our own imaginations, completely activated by this magnificent film." Ezra Winton, Art Threat

"As powerful as it is heartrending." Serena Whitney, Exclaim

Eric Black

(Herz des Himmels, Herz der Erde)
After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador
Director: Eric Black

The location of the world’s largest—possibly toxic—gold-mine pit, Guatemala is also the homeland of the Maya and their decidedly holistic cosmology. Frauke Sandig and Eric Black’s kaleidoscopically beautiful documentary follows the daily and ceremonial lives of six articulate young Maya as they struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of C21 capitalism.

"Of course one cannot simply reverse European history and the creation of the “Self”, which is also tied to liberation from the forces of nature. But one can empathize with a philosophy that does not separate the individual from nature. This different relationship to nature is better described with pictures than with words. Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth does exactly this, with clouds that glow from within, rivers with power one can sense, or mountains, which exude an inner peace. The camerawork creates settings that inspire fascination in a hitherto unknown world."

Peter Gutting, kino-zeit

"It is an exquisitely, achingly beautiful film – wonderfully conceived and sensitively filmed. I particularly appreciated the references to ancestral dreams and memories, sequences that ring truer than any film I’ve ever seen on Maya spirituality… The sequences on the war were particularly poignant. One of the communities I lived in for 6 months was completely wiped out—I still don’t know if anyone survived. It is my sincerest hope that some lived to tell their stories like the wonderful people in this film. What strikes me is the resilience of the Maya in the face of powerful and concerted efforts to destroy or alter it. I was profoundly affected by this film and will carry many of its images with me to the end of my days."

Allen J. Christenson, Author of Popul Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya

Doug Block

The Best of Hot Docs
Director: Doug Block

Over the past two decades, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Doug Block has supported his career with a side business of videotaping weddings. Long curious about how their marriages have turned out, he tracks down and interviews some of the more memorable of his 112 wedding couples - with funny, insightful and deeply moving results.

"Quirky, entertaining, and heartwarming." Toronto Film Scene

"Simple in execution, but unmistakably rich in dialogue of the complexities of married life, Doug Block has lensed a wonderfully playful, startlingly tragic film that will surely move anyone who’s ever been in love and question anyone considering marriage themselves." Jordan M Smith, Ion cinema

"Block finds the extraordinary in the patient observation of everyday life." Michel Gondry

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Doug Block

Over the past two decades, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Doug Block has supported his career with a side business of videotaping weddings. Long curious about how their marriages have turned out, he tracks down and interviews some of the more memorable of his 112 wedding couples - with funny, insightful and moving results.

"Quirky, entertaining, and heartwarming." Toronto Film Scene

"Simple in execution, but unmistakably rich in dialogue of the complexities of married life, Doug Block has lensed a wonderfully playful, startlingly tragic film that will surely move anyone who’s ever been in love and question anyone considering marriage themselves." Jordan M Smith, Ion cinema

"Block finds the extraordinary in the patient observation of everyday life." Michel Gondry

Doug Blush

Vancity Theatre Screening
Director: Doug Blush

Special Panel Discussion will follow the screening with Director Doug Blush (via skype) and in person, Heather Stewart, MDABC Speakers Bureau and Chris Gorman, President of the BC Psychiatric Association Executive and host of radio show about mental health called Beautiful Minds

Eschewing medical explanations and expert opinions, “Of Two Minds” examines the experience of bipolar disorder through firsthand testimony from three people coping with it in varying ways. Following these individuals over a three-year period, helmers Doug Blush and Lisa Klein create three intertwined narratives with additional interwoven strands, tracing fascinating processes of adaptation.

"Intelligent, compassionate." Variety

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