Starts March 17
Image: Until Branches Bend, at VIFF Centre
What is this place we call home? Between now and National Canadian Film Day (April 19) we invite you to take a closer look at the evolving face of a country busily reimagining itself.
This series includes some of the most acclaimed new dramas to hit the festival circuit, as well as several revelatory local documentaries.
Anthony Shim’s semi-autobiographical Riceboy Sleeps (from March 24) charts the travails of a South Korean immigrant family in a Vancouver suburb in the ‘90s, was named Best Canadian Film at VIFF, and scored TIFF’s prestigious Platform Prize; Sophie Jarvis’s Okanagan-set Until Branches Bend (from March 24) melds social realism, an acute psychological study, and sinister, surreal undercurrents; and, from Nova Scotia, Ashley McKenzie’s marvelous, surprising Queens of the Qing Dynasty (from March 17) delicately sketches the friendship between a neuro-diverse teen and a queer Chinese volunteer caregiver. Finally, Tenzin (from March 18), the first feature made in collaboration with Ontario’s Tibetan community, is a Buddhist soul-searcher about a young man struggling to make sense of his brother’s suicide.
On the documentary front, Nisha Platzer’s locally made, deeply personal back home (from April 14) also unpicks the heart-rending aftermath of a sibling’s decision to end his life, sifting the loving remembrances of friends and family for solace and insight. Leslie D. Bland and Harold C. Joe’s A Cedar Is Life (from March 31) and Alexi Liotti’s Rematriation (April 22) are two more BC-produced documentaries, both focusing on the spiritual significance of our forests and the emerging coalition between the First Nations and environmentalists. Finally, on a lighter note, Brian D. Johnson’s The Colour of Ink (from April 7) looks at what goes into artisanal inks, which is to say, almost anything, from berries and grapes to industrial rust to mollusc milk, blood, sweat, and tears. If we only look for it, there is an entire spectrum right in our own backyard.
Look for further announcements of filmmaker Q&As and National Canadian Film Day programming soon.
A Cedar Is Life
The cedar tree has always been central to First Nations cultural practice on the northwest coast. It is, you could say, foundational flora. A Cedar Is Life is an illuminating, passionate film which speaks to a defining aspect of this part of the world.
Until Branches Bend
Discovering a potentially invasive insect inside a peach, fruit packer Robin immediately reports it. When management refuses to take action, she goes public with her concerns and precipitates a widescale shutdown in her Okanagan town.
Raising her son Dong-hyun (Dohyun Noel Hwang, then Ethan Hwang) in Vancouver’s suburbs, So-young (Choi Seung-yoon), a South Korean immigrant, desperately wants to instill a sense of pride in the boy. Meanwhile, he just wants to fit in.
The Colour of Ink
For Jason Logan, master inkmaker, pigmentation is a living element. Brian D. Johnston's radiant, artisanal doc is a real eye-opener.
In 1999, 11-year-old Nisha Platzer lost her brother, Josh, to suicide. Twenty years later, her search leads her to the door of Josh's chosen family. An eloquent collage that asserts that both grieving and healing are meant to be communal experiences.
From the front lines of the fight to preserve BC's old growth forests, Rematriation is both an urgent wake-up call and an inspiring tribute to the land defenders at Fairy Creek.
Made collaboratively with the Tibetan community in Parkdale, Ontario, Tenzin is a poignant character study with deft political and philosophical shadings, and a striking electronic/drone score by composer Colin Stetson (Hereditary; The Menu).
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Queens of the Qing Dynasty
Recovering from a suicide attempt, a neurodiverse Cape Breton teen is drawn into the orbit of a genderqueer hospital volunteer who hails from Shanghai. Despite their disparate backgrounds, the pair operate on identical idiosyncratic frequencies.
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