The International Rights of Children Society presents a gripping film told from the perspective of parents whose partners have abducted their children to Japan. The left behind parents’ struggles to make contact and maintain relationships with their children are portrayed with moving honesty and dramatic tension. The filmmakers will host a discussion following the screening. The film is rated G. Tickets $10.
Set in Yokohama in 1963, the latest animated feature from Studio Ghibli is a poignant teen love story, graceful, understated but full of feeling. Written by Hayao Miyazaki and directed by his son Goro, the movie tells the story of a lonely high school girl who becomes involved in the fight to save a delipidated boys’ club house.
"With its beautiful visuals and songs, Poppy Hill finds a deserving place among its Studio Ghibli peers."
"A beautifully artful, wistfully nostalgic coming of age romance!"
Make a Valentine’s Day date with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire in one of the most delightful Hollywood musicals of the Golden Age. A romantic comedy with songs by George and Ira Gershwin, Funny Face is a delectable satire on the then-nascent fashion industry, with a remarkable comic turn from Kay Thompson as a Diana Vreeland-type editor for Quality magazine.
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
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.
Imagine gold "as far as the eye can see". All you have to do is rip it out of the ground. But one man’s nirvana is another’s hell. Gold Fever witnesses the arrival of Goldcorp Inc to a remote Guatemalan village. 500 years after the conquistadors, and still reeling from decades of US-backed repression, Diodora, Crisanta and Gregoria are caught in the cross-hairs of another global frenzy for gold. Together with their community, they resist the threat to their ancestral lands in the face of grave consequences.
“Beautifully-made. Sobering and tragic, but ultimately empowering.”
The Yes Men
“Tests Guatemalan society’s willingness to confront what might be today’s biggest challenge: overcoming the social unrest caused by the massive extraction of natural resources.”
Uli Stelzner, Muestra de Cine Internacional Memoria Verdad Justicia
Xenia Onatopp and Colonel Ourumov hijack a special helicopter that is immune to electromagnetic pulse. The pair then go to a Soviet bunker that is the control base for the Goldeneye satellite weapons - but a new Bond - Pierce Brosnan - is on the case.
The Bank of England has detected an unauthorized leakage of gold from the country, and Bond (Connery) is sent to investigate. The suspect is one Auric Goldfinger, the richest man in the country - who is hatching a scheme to irradiate Fort Knox. Bond must foil his plots, while avoiding the deadly bowler-hatted Korean, Oddjob.
"A dazzling object lesson in the principle that nothing succeeds like excess." Penelope Gilliatt
Freda Kelly was just a shy Liverpudlian teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her. A unique perspective on the greatest band in the history of pop.
"A satisfying and moving experience." Ernest Hardy, Village Voice
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
Classified for youth: PG (please note this film has somber and sometimes harrowing content.)
Set in Japan during WWII, the film focuses on Seita and his little sister Setsuko. After their mother is killed in an air raid, and with their father serving in the navy, they are forced to fight for survival in the devastated Japanese countryside. Probably the least seen Studio Ghibli masterpiece (at least in North America), this is also one of the most affecting animated films ever made. Roger Ebert described it "as an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation," adding: "It belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made."
“Grave of the Fireflies” is an emotional experience so powerful that it forces a rethinking of animation… It belongs on any list of the greatest war films ever made." Roger Ebert
Featuring poignant interviews with a who’s who of 60s folk luminaries, and searing footage of Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell, among many others, Laura Archibald’s doc illuminates one of those rare creative nexus points that defined an era. Between 1961 and 1973, musicians from all over North America (and further afield) converged on Greenwich Village to sing about the radical social upheaval of the time. As these new singer-songwriters emerged, the Village blossomed as a place that promoted a better future and challenged the status quo.
"Evokes the flavor of the era just before the music business exploded into a mass-market juggernaut. The film’s pleasures are the same ones offered by a sprawling, lavishly illustrated magazine spread." Stephen Holden, New York Times
"Makes you wish you’d been there too, hearing it all for the first time." Jay Stone, Canada.com
"Irresistible…I t’s always irritating to hear New Yorkers refer to themselves as the centre of the universe. Except in this case they might be right." Susan Cole, Now magazine
Gregory Crewdson has created some of the most gorgeously haunting pictures in the history of photography, evoking Hitchcock, Lynch, Edward Hopper and Diane Arbus. Shot over a decade, this mesmerizing film lays bare his art.
"A must-see for art lovers." Variety
"As an artistic peripeteia, Brief Encounters is great entertainment." Ela Bittencourt, Slant
"A beautiful and contemplative look at Crewdson’s process." The Paris Review
Senegalese kora and western trumpet make fabulous music together! Volker Goetze’s enthralling documentary melds dazzling visuals and haunting songs to serve up a feast for the senses. Griot introduces us to Goetze’s own soulful trumpet stylings and the extraordinary voice and calabash harp artistry of Ablaye Cissoko.
"Stunning… beautiful." Globe & Mail
"One of the tasks of a lifetime is to become familiar with the great works of Shakespeare," wrote Roger Ebert, in his 4-star review for Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed, full-length film of the Bard’s most enduring tragedy. He continued: "Branagh’s version moved me, entertained me and made me feel for the first time at home in that doomed royal court…. His ’’Hamlet’’ is long but not slow, deep but not difficult, and it vibrates with the relief of actors who have great things to say, and the right ways to say them."
"Not only the best filmed adaptation of Hamlet I have ever seen, but the best cinematic expression that I have come across of any of Shakespeare’s plays." James Berardinelli, Reelviews
"As star and ringmaster, Branagh gets to the heart of Hamlet and goes to admirable lengths to take his audience there, too." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"100% Shakespeare and 100% cinema." Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
Three sisters: Woody Allen explores the bonds and infidelities running through a middle class New York family in this, one of his most expansive and warmest films, a tender comedy that garnered Academy Awards for Michael Caine, Dianne Wiest and for Allen’s screenplay.
"An articulate, literate film, full of humanity and perception." Time Out
"One of Woody’s best ever." David Parkinson, Empire
Heavyweight German filmmaker von Trotta turns her attention to one of the pre-eminent thinkers of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt, and in particular to the crucial time in 1961 when she reported on the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker. It was Eichmann’s pathetic disavowals of the Final Solution policy he helped frame that inspired Arendt to coin her famous phrase, "the banality of evil."
"Trotta has made an extremely vivid cinematic essay, thrilling in its every minute, deeply moving in its seriousness and suitably unsettling." Elke Schmitter, Der Spiegel
"A thrilling lesson in courage." Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
"The best movie this critic has ever seen about the life and times of a writer." Brandon Harris, Filmmaker
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
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
The writer of VIFF-favourite The Hunt fashions a lean, taut, morally ambiguous Scandinavian thriller out of the facts of the hijacking of a Danish-owned cargo boat by Somali pirates (the very incident captured in the documentary Stolen Seas).
96% Fresh Rotten Tomatoes
"No mainstream American thriller could ever be made about this subject that resisted simple-minded narrative clichés the way "A Hijacking" does, or that refused to depict its characters as either heroes or villains." Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
"A nail-biter of a thriller." Geoff Pevere, Globe & Mail