Image: Joint Security Area, VIFF 2023
A celebrated Canadian filmmaker curates a selection of international films that influenced their artistic journey
It’s such an exciting honor for me to introduce the new Leading Lights program at the 2023 Vancouver International Film Festival. I grew up in Vancouver and have been attending this festival since I was a teenager. I had the privilege of premiering my first film here in 2019 and then again with my last film, Riceboy Sleeps, just this past year. All of this to say that this festival has a special place in my heart and I’m so thrilled to take part in it again this year in the new role of guest curator.
I was invited to share four films that have had a profound impact and influence on my life and my artistic career. These four films were not difficult for me to select and if you’ve been around me at all it’s likely that you’ve heard me raving about them: Peppermint Candy by Lee Chang-dong; Dust in the Wind by Hou Hsiao-hsien; Joint Security Area by Park Chan-wook; and A Woman Under the Influence by John Cassavetes.
These films encompass everything I love about cinema: its ability to entertain, educate, inspire, evoke thought, spark conversations. Over the years, I have revisited them again and again, each time discovering new moments and gaining a greater appreciation for their masterful filmmaking. The protagonists in all of these films show sides of humanity that don’t simply boil down to right or wrong, or black and white, but exist somewhere in the gray area. They’re flawed human beings struggling to overcome challenges in extraordinary circumstances – is that not the basis of great cinema? I hope those of you who join us for these special screenings are moved and stirred in the way that I am when I view them. Please enjoy.
— Anthony Shim, Guest Programmer
Park Chan-wook's 2000 domestic box office hit investigates a deadly incident in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
Cassavetes' greatest success is built on a fearless, tour-de-force performance of Mabel Longhetti, a working class wife and mom who struggles to keep it all together. Her husband is also ashamed of her. Love, as the song goes, will tear you apart. This is grand opera in hard hats.
Backtracking from his suicide as a broken and depressed man, the film recounts the life of Yong-ho, from his tragic demise to his innocent youth, in reverse order.
At the end of the 1960s, high-school sweethearts Wan and Huen leave their little mining town in search of greater opportunities in Taipei, where the vicissitudes of life take their toll on the relationship.