Skip to main content
Swan Song film image

Swan Song

This event has passed

In a 50 year career as dancer and artistic director with the National Ballet of Canada, legendary dance icon Karen Kain tackle Swan Lake for her first directing role and farewell project. For Kain, the making of this ballet is a labor of love, as it launched her career to superstardom when she made her acclaimed debut in the feature role of Odette/Odile in 1971. Swan Song captures the creative process, the determination and vision in re-staging this classical ballet, which was complicated by a two year pandemic-related delay. Featuring ballet stars past, present and future, the documentary provides an intimate glimpse into the grueling physical and emotional sacrifice required to create this sumptuous, lush re-imagining. Directed by Chelsea McMullan (My Prairie Home, Crystal Pite: Angels’ Atlas, winner of VIFF’s 2022 Showcase Audience Award), Swan Song is an immersive, thrilling glimpse behind the curtain.


October 1: Q&A with director Chelsea McMullan


Media Partner

Community Partner


Karen Kain

Country of Origin





Special Presentations



Film Contact
Content Warning

Self Harm, Coarse Language

99 min
Art, Music & Photography Documentary Women Directors

Book Tickets

This event has passed.


Executive Producer

Sean O’Neill, Chelsea McMullan, Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier, Anna Godas, Oli Harbottle, Neve Campbell


Sean O’Neill


Chelsea McMullan & Sean O’Neill


Tess Girard, Shady Hanna


Brendan Mills

Original Music

Katie Stelmanis


Chelsea McMullan headshot

Photo by Luis Mora

Chelsea McMullan

Chelsea McMullan is a director, writer and producer. Their work in documentary, experimental narrative, and hybrid films has often centered on leading international artists in different practices. Ever Deadly (2022), directed in collaboration with the Inuk artist, writer and musician Tanya Tagaq screened at VIFF last year. Their previous features include My Prairie Home, a musical documentary about the transgender musician Rae Spoon and the feature documentary Crystal Pite: Angels’ Atlas about the world-renowned choreographer. Both screened at VIFF and many other festivals.

Filmography: My Prairie Home (2013); Crystal Pite: Angels’ Atlas (2022); Ever Deadly (2022)

Missing VIFF? Check out what's playing at the VIFF Centre

Cowboy Bebop + The Cowboy Bebop Bebop Band
Cowboy Bebop film image; anima man aims gun into camera

Cowboy Bebop + The Cowboy Bebop Bebop Band

Dir. Shinichirō Watanabe
120 min

Here's the double whammy of the season: The Cowboy Bebop Bebop Band (led by Steven Zhu) paired with a screening of the thrilling 2001 Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.

Image: Allan Parker

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

Pather Panchali

Dir. Satyajit Ray
125 min

Satyajit Ray's first film opened eyes in the West. It's a naturalistic portrait of the childhood of a Brahman child, Apu, growing up in a village far from twentieth century technology in West Bengal.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
John Coltrane's Blue World: The Mike Allen Trio + Le chat dans le sac
Le chat dans le sac film image; woman smoking a pipe

John Coltrane's Blue World: The Mike Allen Trio + Le chat dans le sac

Dir. Gilles Groulx
73 min

Join us as we celebrate the 98th birthday of John Coltrane and the 60th Anniversary of the French Canadian new wave classic which he scored. Coltrane's music for the film was only released two years ago, as the album Blue World.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

The Night of the Hunter

Dir. Charles Laughton
92 min

One of the strangest and most beguiling movies you'll ever see, from a poetic, nightmarish novel by Davis Grubb, a fable about two children fleeing from a psychotic evangelical preacher (Robert Mitchum). Charles Laughton's only film as director.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre

The Battle of Algiers

Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo
135 min

French Colonel Mathieu hunts for Algerian resistance leader Ali la Pointe in Pontecorvo's classic, which draws the battle lines between colonialists and Arab insurrectionists in a pulsating, "fly-on-the-wall" documentary style.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre


Dir. Jacques Tati
152 min

Jacques Tati was modernity's clown; technology his banana skin. Here his alter-ego Monsieur Hulot navigates a sterile Paris that seems designed to thwart his every wish.

VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre