As promised, I have added another ten selections to PART ONE of my VIFF Selections blog post from last week. These are once again presented in no particular order, but this time I am bringing attention to selections that struck my curiosity and stood out for me when leafing through this year's guide. I know some of these will likely appear in later iterations on a screen near you, but several of them will be the kind of one-shot viewing experience that makes VIFF such a special festival. Happy viewing!
NO MEN BEYOND THIS POINT directed by Mark Sawers (CANADA)
What happens in a world where men are no longer needed? That is the premise of this Canadian mockumentary (one of my favourite genres) that follows the youngest man still alive in a sea of women reproducing asexually. The film is set in West Vancouver, so how could you not be curious about how this will all look on the screen?
EXPERIMENTER directed by Michael Almereyda (USA)
As a Gen-Xer, I adore Winona Ryder (Reality Bites was one of my favourite films as an angst ridden undergrad), and I am curious how she is cast in this film set during the infamous “social-obedience experiments” at Yale during the 1960s. This is more of a mainstream commercial film pick for VIFF, but the subject matter is both intriguing and timely.
LOVE AMONG THE RUINS directed by Massimo Ali Mohammad (USA/ITALY)
When The Artist came to VIFF a few years ago and then shocked many by winning best film at the Academy Award the following year, I felt vindicated for advocating the significance and relevance of the silent cinema—movies after all are first and foremost a visually driven medium. This film also promises to be a tribute to silent movie making through the creation of a combination mockumentary and mock silent movie that tells the story of the film’s discovery.
PARADISE directed by Sina Ataeian Dena (IRAN/GERMANY)
Films from Iran are always a favourite at VIFF, and this year proves no exception with this selection shot clandestinely in Tehran. Following a mostly female cast through what is described as current-day existence in Iran, the movie promises to “reveal the role of women in contemporary Iranian society.”
SOUND + IMAGE SHORTS directed by various (CANADA)
This anthology of nine films showcases Canadian filmmaking talent at its most immediate and focused through the use of the short film format. Some of the most memorable films I have seen at VIFF over the years have been those under 10 minutes. Remember always, it is about quality not quantity in filmmaking as many other media forms.
PORT OF CALL directed by Philip Yung (HONG KONG)
The “Dragons and Tigers” section at VIFF showcasing films from East Asia grows exponentially every year, and I always eager to discover something new that I know I will not likely see again. This year, I was struck by the synopsis of a Hong Kong film that delves into the world of modern policing in Chinese society. With all of the social upheaval in Hong Kong in the last year, I am curious to see how this film tackles the subject.
A FLICKERING TRUTH directed by Pietra Brettkelly (AFGHANISTAN/NEW ZEALAND)
Some years ago, film director Pietra Brettkelly blew the lid off of the contemporary art world with a documentary examining and exposing the world of high stakes art making and selling at the Venice Biennale (if you haven’t seen The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins about Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft—most recently, art director to Kanye West—make sure to check it out). In this new documentary, Brettkelly travels to Afghanistan where she follows a group of Afghan cinephiles trying to preserve and protect their culture’s films from destruction by the Taliban regime.
HOCKNEY directed by Randall Wright (UK/USA)
Although I am not a huge fan of artist psychobiography or this artist in particular, the film Hockney came recommended from a trusted colleague and promises not to be just a celebratory portrayal, but instead a documentary that delves more critically into the life and context of famed British artist David Hockney. We shall see….
DEATHGASM directed by Jason Lei Howden (NEW ZEALAND)
Many of my students accuse me of not having an open enough mind when it comes to the horror and gore-porn genres, so this selection is dedicated to them! The name of the film is intriguing enough to check out, and I will make sure to go see this movie on an empty stomach.
ORIGINAL COPY directed by Florian Heinzen-Ziob (GERMANY)
Following the lives of Bollywood film poster designers and painters, this film caught my eye right away for both the art form of the public movie poster (which as the film synopsis notes is today in the final stages of dying out) and the cultural context of the Indian film industry, within which this story plays out.