A number of notable Vancouver films figure prominently among the selections for this year's Canada's Top Ten Film Festival, which runs from January 12 to 21 at the Cinematheque.
Right off the top, Kathleen Hepburn's drama Never Steady, Never Still opens the festival, with its study of how longterm illness impacts a family. As mother Judy contends with deteriorating health due to Parkinson's disease, her husband pushes their son Jamie to work in the oilfields.
At the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival, the film collected numerous awards, including the B.C. Emerging Filmmaker Award, the Emerging Director Award, and the Sea to Sky Award (for female filmmakers).
Also in the lineup is Vancouver filmmaker Kyle Rideout's Adventures in Public School, which takes a comedic look at what happens when a homeschooled student tries to escape overprotective mother by attending public school to pursue the girl he's smitten with.
The cast includes Daniel Doheny, Siobhan Willaims, Judy Greer (Ant-Man), comedian Russell Peters, Grace Park (Hawaii Five-0), and Andrea Bang (Kim's Convenience).
Métis filmmaker Wayne Wapeemukwa's Luk'Luk'I impressed Georgia Straight movies editor Adrian Mack so much that he included it in his top 10 films of 2017. The film follows the lives of five marginalized citizens living in the Downtown Eastside at the end of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The actors play characters based upon themselves, ranging from a heroin-addicted father to a rollerskater who runs into conflict with hockey fans and the police.
It was also named the best B.C. feature film at VIFF 2017.
Another feature by an Indigenous filmmaker is Alanis Obomsawin. Her documentary Our People Will Be Healed examines how Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba is using education for decolonization, empowerment, and transformation.
Meanwhile, Catherine Bainbridge's documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World shines a light on the much-neglected role that Indigenous musicians have played in North American music history, from blue musician Charlie Patton and guitarist Jesse Ed Davis to well-known names like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Robbie Robertson.
Other documentaries include Charles Officer's Unarmed Verses, named best Canadian documentary at VIFF 2017, follows an Antiguan Canadian teen who finds strength in poetry and music to become the voice for a low-income neighbourhood that is facing gentrification.
Elsewhere in the program, Robert Aubert offers his arthouse take on the horror genre. In Les Affamés (The Ravenous), survivors of a zombie invasion escape from a Quebec smalltown in search of other humans.
Also set in rural Quebec—but in the 1930s—is Simon Lavoie's goth drama The Little Girl Who Was Too Fond of Matches. When their drunkard father dies, his two isolated children try to survive on their own, but question his odd teachings and uncover troubling family secrets.
The psychological thriller Allure, by Montreal's Carlos and Jason Sanchez, depicts what happens when a mutual attraction develops between an emotionally unstable house cleaner (Evan Rachel Wood) and an overly disciplined teen (Vancouver's Julia Sarah Stone).
Teen angst and turmoil is also the subject of the coming-of-age drama Ava, by Montreal filmmaker Sadaf Foroughi. After her mother questions her virginity, a Tehran teenager rebels against her controlling, overprotective parents and social pressures to conform.
The festival also features two programs of the top 10 Canadian short films, as well as Canada's top 10 student shorts.
For full details, including screening information, visit the Cinematheque website.