Image: Only the River Flows, VIFF 2023
An array of remarkable narrative films from every corner of the globe
A sprawling collection of films befitting its name, Panorama takes us for the seediest recesses of the dark web to a yurt district in Mongolia. Likewise, it sees some characters embracing traditions, while others seek out new ways of living, sometimes at the fringes of society (or even reality itself). A quarter of the selections hail from Asia, upholding VIFF’s commitment to showcasing the vibrant cinemas of that region. But there’s also the opportunity to experience work originating from Macedonia, Sudan, and Georgia and marvel at the breadth of international cinema.
Haunting, mysterious, and mournful, Chong Keat Aun’s powerful film explores the legacy of May 13, 1969, when mob violence in Kuala Lumpur led to many killings--mostly of Chinese Malaysians.
Following a construction worker and a Belgian-Chinese biologist writing a dissertation on moss, this is a sensuous wonder and a luminous exploration of the visible world. A film about two strangers united by their mutual delight in their surroundings.
In this evocative, enigmatic psychological thriller, an unhappy, lonely Parisian midwife tells a foolish lie and then has to live with the consequences...
In the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, a story unfolds of perseverance under a truly daunting predicament. A teen with a gift for physics enters a national competition, struggling to make ends meet while pushing to succeed against all odds.
Wei Shujun's unpredictable neo-noir pits a detective against a serial killer terrorizing a small hamlet. The cop is not only trying to outwit the murderer, but must also deal with uncooperative villagers, inept colleagues, and his own unraveling mind.
After the death of his mentor a professor of philosophy finds his professional standing is in jeopardy, and his own students are threatening to revolt. What use Rousseau, Hobbes et al when his life is spiraling out of control?
Kanae is reopening the bathhouse she shut down when her husband Satoru vanished without a trace. As someone shows up looking for work, an uneasy companionship forms, causing Kanae to handle two burdens, her lost husband and a secret she dare not reveal.
Ester, a young Sami woman, tries to conceal her ethnicity to avoid ostracism in 1970s Norway without betraying her family roots. Struggling to navigate her shifting cultural identity, she protests a local dam with Sami activists.
Set in a small village on the India/Bhutan border, this story depicts a group of women who live alongside and ultimately support each other. Wild Swans shares a glimpse into a culture and community that is rarely seen in cinema.
Estranged from her controlling parents, after coming out as a lesbian, Leonora learns of her mother's terminal cancer in an interview on live TV. When visiting her family in hospice, memory and reality begin to blur into a surreal nightmare.
She never wanted to be a mom, but fate presents Dita (Anamaria Marinca) with her girlfriend's two daughters to raise -- a recipe for chaos, laughter and heartache, all jumbled up together.
Laetitia Colombani's assured, involving adaptation of her own best-selling novel weaves together three stories of female perseverance across three continents, in India, Italy, and Canada. This is a strongly acted movie with a big emotional pay-off.
In German-occupied Poland, a young woman, Irene Gut Opdyke (Sophie Nélisse) risks her life by hiding 12 Jews in the cellar of a villa where she serves as housekeeper for a Werhmacht officer. But one day, he discovers the truth... Based on a true story.
Living a solitary existence in Manhattan, Dog is tired of being alone, and builds his own friend: Robot. Their friendship blooms while exploring 1980s New York. This enchanting 2D animation brims with love, loss, and friendship.
The tribulations of adapting to a new place are explored with freshness and sympathy in this film about a defector from North Korea struggling to make a better life for herself in Seoul. A gentle, low-key movie with a touching performance from Sul Lee.
In this unsettling and enthralling drama from the director of Nadia, Butterfly, Kelly-Anne (Juliette Gariépy) becomes obsessed with the trial of Ludwig Chevalier (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), a loner accused of the torture and murder of three teenage girls.
Set in San Antonio De Los Baños, a sleepy town in inland Cuba, and shot in langurous black and white tableaux, The Oceans Are the Real Continents traces the stories of three generations of townspeople. "An exquisite love poem to Cuba." The Film Verdict.
Inside an unfinished apartment tower in Tblisi, Georgia, a legendary drag queen and teenage drifter live in purgatorial languor. Are they still inhabiting this plane of existence? A poetic fable that conjures a legitimately dreamlike milieu.
In her 40s, Reyhan inexplicably loses her sense of smell. Impetuously, she decides to disappear from her old life and find a new one without obligations, possessions, or even aspirations. Is this... Freedom?
Lacquerwork kitchenware is the Aoki family's legacy. When Seishiro wants to hand it down to his son Yu, he is faced with conflict, as his daughter Miyako cares far more for the craft, pushing a collision of gender politics and traditional domestic roles.
Leading up to South Sudan’s secession, a retired singer is wracked with guilt from her connection to a murder. To make amends, she hires the new widow as her maid. This artfully composed drama weaves friendship, deceit, and awakening to inequities.
Suellen, an unhappy toll booth attendant, prays everyday at a cliff-side shrine for one thing: that her teenage son will be “cured” of homosexuality. In order to pay for conversion therapy, she helps her boyfriend steal wristwatches from wealthy motorists.
Lisa is lured to a rare gathering with her parents and two siblings at the family's forest home. The purpose is to decide which child may inherit the vast land and take over the family business. A sensitive and funny portrayal of a dysfunctional family.
In a powerful film based on actual events, a hard-bitten journalist investigates abuse in a Hong Kong care home. The film sidesteps no hard hitting questions, neglects cop-outs or easy answers, and offers a resounding moral challenge to us all.
In Cairo, a lonesome property guard tends to a run-down villa long-since vacated by its affluent owners. His peaceful little world is overturned when an ex-convict occupies the property, forcing the old man to confront his sorrows.
Etero, a 48-year-old woman living in a small village in Georgia, never wanted a husband. She cherishes her freedom as much as her cakes. But her choice to live alone is the cause of much gossip. Unexpectedly, she finds herself falling in love.
In this nihilistic Chilean south western, notorious cattle rancher Menéndez dispatches a trio of hired guns (a Brit, an American cowboy and a local mestizo) to scout and scourge Tierra del Fuego. A searing critique of white supremacist foundational myths.
How do you want to be remembered after death? All Ears tackles this heavy subject with a lightness of touch and sense of humor. A failed scriptwriter leverages his knowledge of storytelling into a job writing obituaries.
In this riveting revenge thriller, winner of the Grand Jury Award at SXSW, Joy, an undocumented Filipino woman becomes a housekeeper for a terminally ill British aristocrat in his secluded home. But all is not what it seems...
A mid-thirties Jewish woman with an interest in BDSM struggles to maintain casual relationships with various “masters.” Witty, wry, and sexually frank, this off-kilter comedy finds humour in the absurd ways that our bodies move through the world.
Emma, a gifted young orchestra conductor is at a crossroads. Audiences are enraptured by her work, however, her career is steered by her controlling father, who’s also her agent. She also has a secret relationship. Tensions build, swell, crescendo....
Germany's historical bigotry against Africans, and its servitude toward legitimizing mass slaughter is documented in this historical drama. Set in turn-of the century Berlin, demonstrating what has been called the 20th century's first genocide.