Skip to main content
Purple Rain film image

Purple Rain

Black History Month: Icons

Book Now Book Now

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate Prince Nelson Rogers. Purple Rain is everything you could want from a rock film, and more – it’s sexy, sassy, slick and it captures the young Prince in the raw. Admittedly in terms of story there’s not a lot of sophistication here; it’s almost on a par with one of those films Elvis cranked out by the bucket load. But director Albert Magnoli had the good fortune to capture a electrifying talent at the very moment he is becoming a star (this is the smash hit movie that propelled Prince to the top of the charts).

Prince is “The Kid”, ruffle-shirted lead singer of bar band The Revolution, a know it all and a sexist pig on top, bearing the scars of an abusive home environment. (Worth noting, this was not a reflection of Prince’s own middle class upbringing, even if the movie does give us a vivid impression of the Minneapolis music scene.) Enter Apollonia, an aspiring musician herself, and also potential competition, and also very hot. She thinks he’s hot too, which is just as well, because that makes two of them. He’s also contending with rival Morris Day’s band, The Time, who have it going on and who know how to be professional. The Kid hasn’t got it all down yet. But on stage, The Revolution is coming and, baby, he’s a star..

Purple Rain is not a living room kind of movie. It demands to be experienced in all its awesomely ridiculous glory on the biggest screen, with the biggest speakers and the biggest crowd.

Odie Henderson,

A hyperbolic rock fever dream… this is the rare pop movie that works the way a great rock & roll song does: It tells a simple, almost elemental tale and uses the music to set it aflame.

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

A time capsule of style and attitude. It does what musicals are supposed to do: It rides the underlying currents of its moment and renders them glorious.

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle


Albert Magnoli


Prince, Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day

Country of Origin






111 min

Book Tickets

Tuesday February 14

6:20 pm
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
Book Now



Robert Cavallo, Steven Fargnoli, Joseph Ruffalo


Albert Magnoli, William Blinn


Donald E. Thorin


Albert Magnoli, Ken Robinson

Original Music

Prince and The Revolution, Michel Colombier

Production Design

Ward Preston

Art Director

Maria Caso

Catch More Black History Month Programming

Also in Icons

In the Heat of the Night

Sidney Poitier in an indelible role a Philadelphia police detective Virgil Tibbs, pulled in as a murder suspect when changing trains in Mississippi. He allies with bigoted local sheriff (Rod Steiger) to solve the case.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings

This boisterous comedy about a breakaway barnstorming Black baseball team in the 1930s should be better known. It's an entertaining gloss on one enterprising ball player's resourceful response to segregated leagues, with Star Wars' Billy Dee Williams.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
Under the Cherry Moon (35mm)
Under the Cherry Moon film image

Under the Cherry Moon (35mm)

Prince is Christopher Tracy, a gigolo on the French Riviera, determined to seduce $50 million heiress Kristin Scott Thomas (!). The pop star's directorial debut is a quirky, fun throwback to old school Hollywood glamour, with knobs on.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre


Viola Davis is immense in Steve McQueen's gripping crime story. When her husband dies in a shootout with Chicago PD, Veronica inherits his $2 million debt to a local mobster, and a notebook with plans to rip-off the vault of a local politico.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Black Panther

The most important movie Marvel has made to date, this Black blockbuster is a triumph for Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman. After the death of his father, T'Challa returns to the African nation of Wakanda to take his place as king.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre


Dear Jackie (Free Screening)

Henri Pardo's film is a cinematic letter to Jackie Robinson, the first African American player in Major League Baseball and a civil rights activist who broke the colour barrier when he joined the minor-league Montreal Royals in 1946. For a short time, the impossible seemed possible in a segregated North America.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
James Baldwin Abroad: Istanbul - Paris - London
James Baldwin Abroad film image

James Baldwin Abroad: Istanbul - Paris - London

These three short docs, from 1968 - 1973, offer sharp, piercing glimpses of Baldwin in private and public, sometimes in repose and relaxed but more often holding forth, embroiled in the thorny discourse of racial politics, identity and self expression.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

"This Time It's Personal" Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 1)

Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops and her partner James Hatch were courageous independent filmmakers who chronicled the ups and downs of their personal lives and family histories, and found in them the temperature of their times.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

"This Time It's Personal" Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 2)

The second programme in our short selection of independent films by Camille Bishops and James Hatch includes what is probably their masterpiece, Finding Christa, a deeply personal film about Camille's relationship with the daughter she gave up for adoption as a child.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Our Dance of Revolution

Award-winning documentary on the history of Black queer activism in Toronto, on communities that have faced every adversity from invisibility to police brutality.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

New Releases


Brown's moving film zeroes in on the descendants of the 110 slaves brought in on the last known slave ship to transport kidnapped Africans to America as human cargo, an illegal shipment undertaken as a bet by a local landowner, Timothy Meaher.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Saint Omer

Alice Diop’s superb film, based on a notorious case of infanticide from a few years ago, subtly, almost surreptitiously evokes complex ideas and emotions around motherhood, gender, and marginalized communities.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Chien Blanc

Living in LA in 1968, French novelist Romain Gary adopts a stray Alsation, but to his horror discovers it has been trained to attack Blacks. His wife, the actress Jean Seberg argues it must be put down, but Gary insists it can be retrained...

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre