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Film Still from The Great Green Wall

Ignite: High School Program


Image: The Great Green Wall, VIFF 2019

The Power of Cinema

We believe in the importance of young people experiencing exceptional Canadian, Indigenous, and international cinema.

Films have the power to challenge our perspectives, confront our preconceptions, promote inquiry, develop critical thinking skills, and ignite imaginations. During the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival, we welcomed 3,000 students from across the province to take part in online screenings, in-person screenings and exclusive Q&As.

Year after year we’ve seen new films that allow young people to see the world in new ways. We’ve also seen the power that stories on screen have in shaping our understanding of ourselves and others, and witnessed the profound impact that film has on secondary students when they either see their own realities reflected on the screen or gain a completely different perspective through a character’s unique journey.

Film Still of Portraits From A Fire

Looking Ahead

With the 2021 festival now behind us, we are planning more education opportunities through our year-round programming at the VIFF Centre and for the next VIFF, September 29 – October 9, 2022.

Want to join us for future education programs?


Questions? Contact us at [email protected]


Image: Portraits From A Fire, VIFF 2021

Look Back At VIFF 2021 High School Program

Online and In-Person

In answer to ongoing challenges with COVID-19, we offered our festival high school programming to British Columbia classes both in-cinema at our VIFF Centre and online via our VIFF Connect streaming platform.


Exclusive Dialogue with Filmmakers and Subject Experts

After each screening, students had the opportunity to be part of a live Q&A session with directors, producers, or subject experts connected to the film.

Educational Resources & Curriculum Ties

We selected these films for their bold approach to pressing social and environmental concerns, and for their thought-provoking connections to multiple subjects across the BC curriculum. Click on each film to view the guides. Written with the curriculum in mind, these resources were built to facilitate engaged discussion and open up in-depth exploration that connects the cinema and the classroom.

The 2021 High School Films

The Six

The Six

The Titanic sank in 1912, leaving only 705 survivors. Among them were six Chinese men whose stories were previously lost to history after they were denied entry to America due to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Masterfully intertwining the history of American immigration policy at the time of the Titanic to contemporary views on race and citizenship, The Six uncovers the sacrifices and discrimination these men suffered, finally granting them their rightful place in history.

View Educational Resource

Film still of Coexctinction


Captivating images of the Salish Sea tell a tale of epochal survival for its apex species: the southern resident killer whale. From the northern edges of Vancouver Island to Oregon’s Lower Snake Rivers, two passionate filmmakers connect with activists, Indigenous leaders, and renowned scientists to understand the fate of the orcas and find solutions to our most pressing environmental threats. A vital, eye-opening analysis of interdependence, humbly offering the next generation a conscious path forward.

View Educational Resource

Film still of White Cube

White Cube

In his project The Repatriation of the White Cube, Dutch ironist Renzo Martens seeks out Congolese workers at two Unilever palm oil plantations and suggests a profit-share model where the workers will get paid for their art, which will be shown in galleries in the West. Martens casts himself as salesman, but also knowingly steps aside for a moving portrait of sculptor Matthieu Kasiama.

View Educational Resource

Film Still of Portraits From A Fire

Portraits From A Fire

Undaunted by the paltry audiences that turn up to watch his DIY films on the Tl’etinqox Reserve, teenage Tyler (William Magnus Lulua) remains convinced that he’s bound for bigger things. But when a DV tape resurfaces that casts new light on his family’s history, Tyler must abandon escapism in favour of unearthing difficult truths. Mingling authenticity and invention, this accomplished open-hearted first feature by Trevor Mack asserts that where there is trauma, there is also the opportunity for healing.

View Educational Resource

Film still of Returning Home

Returning Home

Intertwining narratives concerning residential school survivors, including Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Jack-Webstad, and Indigenous peoples’ relationship with imperiled wild Pacific salmon, Sean Stiller’s documentary is a revelatory testament to resilience. Through stunning cinematography and clear-eyed testimonies, it lays bare the ravages of colonialism, illustrates what it means to be in good relationship with the land, and shares how healing people and healing the natural world are synonymous.

View Educational Resource