Indie Spirits: Debut Docs with directors Elizabeth Lo and Lance Oppenheim

Recorded on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Presented by
Creative BC

Lance Oppenheim’s Some Kind of Heaven is a dizzying odyssey into the sprawling surreal wonderland that is The Villages, America’s largest retirement community. Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival, Heaven strikingly captures Central Florida’s ambiance and offers a nuanced look at the never-ending quest to find meaning and love in life’s final act.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Lo’s Stray offers an enlightening dogs’-eye view of Istanbul’s streets, allowing us to run with the canines who roam them. A critical observation of human nature through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs, the film is also a sensory voyage that invites us to embrace new ways of seeing things. Elizabeth’s feature debut won the Best International Documentary Award at Hot Docs 2020.

Both of these stunning debut features have earned accolades and acclaim, so we’re thrilled to chat with these indie documentarians about the unique approaches they used to bring these stories to life.

Special offer: Rent Stray or Some Kind of Heaven on VIFF Connect to get a free ticket to the Indie Spirits talk with Elizabeth Lo and Lance Oppenheim.

Session Participants

Lance Oppenheim’s first feature, Some Kind of Heaven, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was produced by Darren Aronofsky, The New York Times (the paper’s first feature film production), and the Los Angeles Media Fund. Some Kind of Heaven won Best Documentary Feature at the Philadelphia Film Festival and received multiple festival award nominations including a nomination for NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance 2020. Lance was a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow, named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent film 2019”, and is the youngest contributor to The New York Times Op-Docs. He was featured on Variety’s “Power of Young Hollywood” list in 2020. Lance’s short films have been screened at multiple festivals including Sundance, Rotterdam, Tribeca and True/False.

Elizabeth Lo is an award-winning director, producer, cinematographer and editor whose work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAMCinemafest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS’ POV. Her short films include Hotel 22, Bisonhead, Mother’s Day, The Disclosure President, Notes from Buena Vista, Treasure Island and Last Stop in Santa Rosa. Named one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion, she was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Stray, Elizabeth’s feature debut, won the Best International Documentary Award at Hot Docs 2020 and continues to garner critical acclaim.

Kevin is an award-winning filmmaker based in Vancouver. His credits as director include the CBC Television documentaries Humboldt: The New Season and After the Sirens (both nominated for Best Documentary Program at the Canadian Screen Awards), and the Knowledge Network doc series Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH. His credits as a producer include the documentaries Haida Modern, Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, Oil Sands Karaoke and Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson, the CBC Television series The Romeo Section, the CTV movie Elijah, and the feature films Preggoland, Fido and The Delicate Art of Parking.


This VIFF Talk is FREE for VIFF+ Connect Monthly, VIFF+ Silver and VIFF+ Gold Members to watch on VIFF Connect.

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