VIFF 2022 Opening Film
In these troubled and lopsided times, we need our storytellers to help us understand our inheritance, be it pain or privilege, and to lay the intellectual and emotional groundwork not only for reconciliation, but for reparation and restoration. Vancouver-born Dene/Métis writer-director Marie Clements (whose previous films The Road Forward and Red Snow have been part of VIFF’s year-round and festival programming) squares up to the challenge with this bold, necessarily harrowing tale of oppression and resilience which spans the greater part of the 20th century.
Aline Spears (played at different ages by Grace Dove, Summer Testawich, and Carla Rae) is a happy, gifted child, until she and her siblings are removed to a residential school. The scars of that experience will run deep through the remainder of their days, though it will not be the only time that official government policy will act as an instrument of abuse and trauma. Despite this, Aline enlists in WWII, where, ironically, her fluency in Cree becomes a national asset. The reward for her service is yet more anguish and struggle.
This is a tough film, but it has epic ambition, deep-rooted conviction, anger, and urgency. Clements is not afraid to make provocative and important connections, and she marshals an outstanding cast of Indigenous actors with care and compassion.
This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.
Support is available 24 hours a day for anyone affected by their experience at residential schools and for those who may be triggered by content dealing with residential schools, child abuse, emotional trauma, and racism. The national Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available at 1-866-925-4419.
Note: The Opening Gala screening will take place Thursday, September 29, 6 pm at the Centre for Performing Arts.
Q&A Sept 29 & Oct 4
Grace Dove, Phillip Forest Lewitski, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Michelle Thrush, Gail Maurice, Carla Rae
In English, Cree, ʔayʔajuθəm, and Italian with English subtitles
Residential Schools, Sexual Violence, Child Abuse, Racial Discrimination, Coarse Language
Open to youth!
Tuesday October 04
More Films in this Series
One Fine Morning
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Bones of Crows
Vancouver-born Dene/Métis writer-director Marie Clements lays out a hard history of Indigenous resilience in this urgent, harrowing epic, spanning most of the 20th century; the story of a Cree woman from childhood, through residential school, WWII, and beyond.
The Grizzlie Truth
Kathleen S. Jayme (Finding Big Country) is out to solve a true sports crime: who robbed us of the Vancouver Grizzlies? Jayme revisits the short history of those bad luck bears, connecting the dots and reconnecting with the Grizzlies heroes and villains.
Sarah Polley's adaptation of Miriam Toews' novel is the most compelling movie to come out the #MeToo movement to date, with stellar performances from Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, and Frances McDormand as Mennonite women confronting a terrible truth.
Marie Kreutzer’s biopic takes us to the late 19th century, when Empress Elisabeth of Austria has been politically sidelined. Imagining her as a proto-feminist rebel, Kreutzer is not afraid to depart from the historical record to do so.
Decision to Leave
Virtuoso Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden; Oldboy) picked up the Best Director Prize at Cannes for this teasing, tantalizing genre piece, a neo-noir mystery about a homicide detective who falls in love with the widow of an apparent suicide.
Stars at Noon
In Claire Denis's Cannes Jury prize winner, a US journalist is marooned in Managua, stripped of her passport and forced to trade sex for protection. An English businessman seems a good prospect, but gradually she sees he's in more trouble than she is.
Veteran director Jerzy Skolimowski returns in triumphant form with this tale of animal life. Sometimes harsh, sometimes sweet, always beautiful, EO tells the story of a donkey and its journey through a world dominated by humans.
Shoplifters director Kore-eda fashions a sprawling, compassionate crime story set in South Korea about a half-baked baby adoption scam led by Song Kang-ho (Parasite; The Host). Winner of Best Actor at Cannes Film Festival.
Triangle of Sadness
A luxury cruise for the super rich goes very, very wrong in this Cannes-winning social satire from the director of The Square. Uproariously funny at times and deeply cynical, this is a must-see.
Marie Clements, Sam Grana, Aaron Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Noah Segal
Marie Clements, Trish Dolman, Christine Haebler
Jesse Zubot, Wayne Lavallee
A writer, director, and producer whose career has spanned film, TV, radio, and live performance, Marie Clements is a Dene/Métis filmmaker and the founder of Marie Clements Media, a production company specializing in the creation and production of media works that ignite an Indigenous and intercultural reality. Her dramatic feature debut Red Snow (2019) received numerous awards including Most Popular Canadian Feature at VIFF and Best Director at the American Indian Film Festival. Clements’ 2017 documentary The Road Forward opened the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, received multiple awards, and has screened at more than 300 venues in North America.
Filmography: The Road Forward (2017); Red Snow (2019)