Bring on Vancouver's summer film festivals

From outdoor screenings of Hollywood movies to extensive line-ups of foreign films, here’s what to watch this summer

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      You say the weather’s fine and you want to head outdoors? Or transport yourself to exotic locales? Well, you can do both over the next few months while watching movies. Catch some flicks on a grassy field under the stars, or take in some foreign, vintage, or rare film-festival selections that you might not otherwise get a chance to see. As a bonus, slipping into a theatre offers a chance to beat the heat, the crowds, or the rain (since this is the Wet Coast). Before heading out, though, double-check official Web sites, as some details are still being finalized.

      Outdoor Excursions


      A free movie projected onto a three-storey screen in the great outdoors? Grab a blanket and family and friends for a cinematic experience that home entertainment can’t re-create. This Canadian company works with local organizations to present numerous events around the Lower Mainland, like Yaletown Movie Night (July 25, 9 p.m., David Lam Park) and Coal Harbour Movie in the Park (Harbour Green Park, at the north end of Thurlow Street), with E.T. on August 13 (8:30 p.m.) and Hairspray on August 27 (8 p.m.). Handy tip: Watch for a full list of events to be posted soon on the Facebook page “FREE Outdoor Movie Events in BC”.

      July 7 and 21, August 4 and 18, gates 8:30 p.m.; tickets $7; Lost Lake, Whistler;

      Thanks to a little event called the 2010 Winter Olympics, this outdoor film series will make use of Lost Lake PassivHaus (formerly Austria House) for a pre-screening barbecue dinner (8 p.m.) and as a backup venue if it rains. Feast on films from Argentina, Sweden, France, Taiwan, and the United States (all preceded by B.C. short films) on a picturesque lakeshore. Movie titles will be announced closer to screening dates. Handy tip: LUNA coordinator Kiran Pal-Pross advises wearing layers due to cool evening temperatures.

      Monsters in the Meadow
      Ceperley Meadow near Second Beach, Stanley Park;
      B-movie fans rejoice: the annual outdoor frightfest in Stanley Park takes place again this year. With The Blob, Godzilla, King Kong, and Creature From the Black Lagoon shown in the past, what creature will rampage through the park this year? Stay tuned, true believers, and check the Web site for details and dates. (It’s usually held in August.) Handy tip: Remember to take a flashlight to aid you in leaving the park after dark. Due to limited parking, biking or walking is recommended.

      Cultural Escapades

      Vancouver French Film Festival
      Until August 5; Ridge Theatre, 3131 Arbutus Street;

      Back for a fourth year, this popular francophone series kicked off with Micmacs (which runs to June 24), featuring Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s distinctive visual and narrative style. The strong lineup continues with Anna Mouglalis and Mads Mikkelsen as Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (June 25 to July 8). There’s also Wild Grass (July 9 to 22) by modernist master Alain Resnais (Hiroshima Mon Amour), and the Cold War thriller Farewell (July 23 to August 5) as the finale. Handy tip: If you plan on seeing a few festival selections, plus films throughout the year at Festival Cinemas, consider getting a membership ($12.50), which reduces regular ticket prices by $3.

      Watch the trailer for Seven Samurai, part of the Kurosawa Centennial at the Pacific Cinémathí¨que.

      Kurosawa Centennial
      June 17 to August 10; Pacific Cinémathí¨que, 1131 Howe Street;

      All 30 of Akira Kurosawa’s films will be shown—you can’t get more comprehensive. This sprawling retrospective lasts about two months. There’s a 35mm restoration of the Oscar-winning Rashomon; new 35mm prints of Stray Dog, Dodes’ka-den, and the epic Ran; and the internationally influential masterpiece Seven Samurai. Handy tip: While you can revisit the chanbara (samurai films) and jidai-geki (period pieces) that the Japanese legend is most acclaimed for, it’s also an opportunity to acquaint yourself with his lesser-known works. Check out One Wonderful Sunday, his foray into shomin-geki (dramas about commoners), or later works like Dreams and his final film, Madadayo.

      Global Lens 2010: Ten Times Around The World
      June 18 to 27; Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street;

      Hollywood dominates the world over, and the Global Film Initiative is working to counter the stultifying effects of cinematic monoculture. The San Francisco–based organization aims to promote cross-cultural understanding by helping cinema in developing countries flourish and bringing international films to North America. Ten of GFI’s selections will offer glimpses of everything from the Iranian rock scene (My Tehran for Sale) to erotic entanglements in Vietnam (Adrift). Handy tip: For a review of the centrepiece, South Africa’s Shirley Adams, check our movie review section on June 17.

      Portuguese Film + Video Festival Canada
      June 22; J Lounge, 1216 Bute Street;

      This Portuguese Heritage Month event, on hiatus last year, is back and already under way. On June 22, there’s Carlos Saura’s Fados, a tribute to the melancholic, soulful Portuguese musical form. Handy tip: Organizer Terry Costa says there’s no cover charge, and a dinner menu and cash bar are available.

      Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival
      June 26, Vancity Theatre,

      “A lot of times people think that South Asian films and filmmakers means Bollywood, and it really doesn’t,” cofounder Agam Darshi (Sanctuary) said by phone. “There’s something”¦so much more beyond that.” Darshi, who was inspired to start the festival by a trip to India, and Smallville’s Patricia Isaac are launching the inaugural event with short films and music videos. Among them are “Curry Powder”, a comedic take on cultural knowledge; the Oscar-nominated “Kavi”, about a boy enslaved as a labourer who longs to go to school; and “A Warrior’s Religion”, Mani Amar’s documentary about gang violence in Metro Vancouver. There'll also be a screening of the feature film Cooking With Stella, starring Lisa Ray and Don McKellar. Handy tip: During a panel discussion, director Vic Sarin (Partition), TV personality Monika Deol, actor Laara Sadiq (Excited), Zahf Paroo (Defying Gravity), and casting director Corinne Clark will talk about their experiences and address the “changing face of media”, Darshi explained.

      Taiwanese Film Festival
      July 2 to 4, Vancity Theatre,

      “For the past 10 years, we’re beginning to see more talented, young directors get away a bit from the artsy stuff and do more commercially viable films,” Myra Lu, press officer for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, said by phone. In spite of the success of these films, many don’t reach our screens. That’s where UBC Literature Etc. comes in. The nonprofit student organization is presenting its fourth annual film festival, with six films offering views of contemporary life on the East Asian island. There’s a particular emphasis on fatherhood, with a collection of 10 stories about fathers (How Are You, Dad?) and a drama, based on a true story, about an impoverished father struggling to retain custody of his daughter (No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti). Handy tip: This festival is a separate entity from TaiwanFest (September 4 to 8), which also includes a film showcase. TaiwanFest’s film lineup is still being finalized, but watch the Web site for updates.

      Brazilian Film Festival of Vancouver
      July 15 to 18, Vancity Theatre,
      Vancouver is lucky to be the only Canadian stop for this collection of shorts and feature films, now in its third year, from South America’s biggest, and sole Portuguese-speaking, country. This year’s program covers everything from music (Beyond Ipanema—Brazilian Waves in Global Music) and queer content (Dzi Croquettes, Elvis & Madona) to environmental issues (Tamboro) and racism (Blue Eyes). Handy tip: There’ll also be guest filmmakers and parties, which are still being finalized. Watch the Web site for updates.

      Watch the trailer for The Wind Journeys, which will play at the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival.

      Vancouver Latin American Film Festival
      September 2 to 12, various venues,

      VLAFF brings the vibrant spectrum of Latin and South American cinematic diversity into focus with 45 short and feature-length films. This year’s guest country, Colombia, will be represented by 15 offerings, including Oscar Ruiz Navia’s Crab Trap and the official Cannes selection The Wind Journeys. There are even offerings from Latin Canadian directors: Vancouver filmmaker Carmen Enriquez’s The Cry of the Andes, German Gutiérrez’s The Coca-Cola Case, and Nicolas Pereda’s Perpetuum Mobile. Handy tip: As if that’s not enough, there’ll also be technical workshops, an art installation, and a concert. Plus, screenings at SFU Harbour Centre won’t cost a thing.

      Special-interest forays

      The Score
      July 23 to August 7, Vancity Theatre,

      Twenty-one classic examples of how soundtracks enrich films will be celebrated in a series of evenings devoted to specific genres. The beat gets going with Jazz Night (June 23), featuring Round Midnight and Last Tango in Paris. Handy tip: The three-man musical ensemble Alloy Orchestra will play live scores to the silent classics The Black Pirate, Underworld, and Man With a Movie Camera. There’ll also be guest speakers, yet to be announced.

      Film Noir
      August 11 to September 2, Pacific Cinémathí¨que,

      It wouldn’t be Vancouver without a little darkness infringing upon the sunshine. This annual exhibition of deadly dames, corrupt cops, and urban intrigue draws huge audiences. With genre classics like The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and This Gun for Hire, it’s a black-and-white extravaganza for crime-drama fans. Handy tip: Visit the Cinémathí¨que’s Web site closer to August for a full list of titles and details.

      Vancouver Queer Film Festival
      August 12 to 22, various venues,

      In the afterglow of Pride Week is Vancouver’s second-largest film festival, not to mention one of the longest-running. This year’s 22nd edition boasts 85 films from over 12 countries and balances the global with the local. Among the selections is Gayblevision, a look back at Vancouver’s first gay and lesbian TV series from the 1980s. Farther afield, there’s gay life amid poverty in the Philippines (Off World), the hardcore Muslim punk scene in America (The Taqwacores), and homophobia in the Bahamas (Children of God). Handy tip: Tickets go on sale July 17, and there’s the OUTrageous! auction fundraiser at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews) on July 23 to keep in mind.