Mongrel Media 20th Anniversary
Since 1994, when Hussain Amarshi founded the company, Mongrel Media has carved out an ever more important niche as a distributor of speciality, art-house and independent film. Mixing business acumen with great taste and conviction, Mongrel has grown to become a vital and vigorous player in a challenging period for the distribution sector. Like VIFF, Mongrel has looked harder and further than most in the film industry, to find the kind of cinematic gems that could otherwise get passed over in the mainstream. As VIFF director of programming Alan Franey notes, “What strikes me as I survey Mongrel's extraordinary catalogue is how much we have come to rely on them for supplying to Canada many of the world's best films every year.”
In this ten-film tribute we’re celebrating the diversity and quality of Mongrel’s collection over four consecutive Sundays running up to the festival (with a couple of musical treats screening in our parallel Music Mondays sidebar). These movies run the gamut from Canadian documentary (the Vancouver-made The Corporation) to Pedro Almodovar’s Academy Award-winning (and very strange) romance Talk to Her, thrillers like A Prophet and The Lives of Others (both screening on 35mm incidentally), and films from Asia, South America, and the Middle East. Not surprisingly they include many audience prize-winners from festivals past, including both the first title in the series, A Separation (Aug 31), and the last, Like Father, Like Son (Sept 21). Congratulations on your 20th Anniversary, Mongrel Media, and many happy returns!
Films in this Series
More than one critic compared Jacques Audiard’s forceful, rich prison drama to The Godfather. Audiard uses the prison as a microcosm in this allegory for how to get ahead in the twenty-first century.
"If Malik doesn’t remind you of Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone on his journey from innocence to corruption in The Godfather saga, well ... he should. A Prophet is similarly, startlingly momentous."—Steven Rea, Philadeliphia Inquirer
"It’s a highly original film made in a familiar context, and an exciting moviegoing experience you shouldn’t miss."—Andrew O’Hehir, Salon
"A Prophet is the kind of film that makes you remember why going to the movies can be a thrilling experience."—Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
Even art-house aficionados were unprepared for the dramatic sophistication and depth on display in this blistering domestic drama from Iran’s Asghar Farhadi (About Elly; The Past). It was as if Ingmar Bergman had been reborn in Tehran, to dissect the dissolution of a middle class marriage. Dense, riveting and complex, this is masterly filmmaking that repays repeat viewing.
"A Separation serves as a quiet reminder of how good it’s possible for movies to be."—Dana Stevens, Slate
"A Separation is totally foreign and achingly familiar. It’s a thrilling domestic drama that offers acute insights into human motivations and behavior as well as a compelling look at what goes on behind a particular curtain that almost never gets raised."—Kenneth Turan, LA Times
Two couples are devastated to learn that their children were swapped at birth six years ago. Are blood ties thicker than the bond of child rearing? This masterly, very moving drama won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and the Audience Award at last year’s VIFF.
"Sublimely moving."—Maggie Lee, Variety
’Powered by Kore-eda’s innate restraint and natural empathy, Like Father, Like Son takes these characters to places they never expected to be. It’s unnerving for them, of course, but watching so many hearts hanging in the balance is a rare privilege for us."—Kenneth Turan, LA Times
"Kore-eda has crafted a piercing, tender poem about the bittersweet ebb and flow of paternal love, and his status as Ozu’s heir becomes ever more assured."—Robbie Collin, The Telegraph
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
One of Almodovar’s very best, this strange and lustrous love story involves two men and two comatose women (one of them a bullfighter). It sounds weird because it is weird - yet by the end it also feels very true, very natural, and totally heartfelt.
"Talk to Her is totally in love with passion, and with love."—The New York Times
"Talk to Her is very much a subversive film, one that takes its time creeping in under your skin. But once there, it’s determined to stay awhile, to entice the mind into playing seditious games."—Kenneth Turan, LA Times
"Pure cinematic intoxication, a wildly inventive mixture of comedy and melodrama, tastelessness and swooning elegance."—Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
Why does the law bestow on private corporations the rights of individuals citizen, but few of the responsibilities? Since its supremely successful release in 2002 this homegrown documentary has only (and sadly) grown more timely. Screening here in a newly revised 2 hour cut specifically aimed at educational distribution networks.
"A cogent, compelling, powerful argument, and a terrific movie."—Glenn Kenny, Premiere
In 1984 East Berlin, an agent of the secret police, conducting surveillance on a writer and his lover, finds himself becoming increasingly absorbed by their lives.
"A thoroughly compelling political thriller, at once intellectually challenging and profoundly emotional."—Claudia Puig, USA Today
"The Lives of Others is a supremely intelligent, unfailingly honest look at a shadowy period in recent German history."—AO Scott, New York Times
A multi-layered and poignant thriller interweaving the personal lives of a state prosecution investigator (Ricardo Darin) and a judge, with a manhunt spanning twenty-five years.
Winner: Academy Award, Best Foreign Language Film
"The wonder is that the film balances its many genres, from the thorns of murder to the bloom of romance to the thickets of politics, with such easy grace. 4/4"—Rick Groen, Globe and Mail
"This beautiful film, directed with subtlety and grace by Juan José Campanella, really is about moving from fear to love."—Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"Secret is bound to linger in the memory for years."—Betsy Sharkey, LA Times