Once again, the Vancouver International Film Festival is showcasing the best in B.C. film. The 33rd edition of the festival will feature 13 films in the BC Spotlight, which was launched in 2013.
In the mix are some familiar names like directors Vic Sarin (Partition, A Shine of Rainbows) and Julia Kwan (Eve and the Fire Horse) with their latest features. Actor Sonja Bennett (Fathers & Sons, Young People Fucking) makes her screenwriting debut with Preggoland, directed by Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky).
Also in the lineup is the first feature by We Are the City's drummer Andrew Huculiak, the Norwegian-shot Violent (which was an official Cannes selection this year).
Ana Valine directs Sitting on the Edge of Marlene, based on a short story by local writer Billie Livingston. The dark comedy-drama stars Callum Keith Rennie and Suzanne Clément (J'ai tué ma mere).
There's also another documentary focusing on B.C. biologist Alexandra Morton's research of the fish-farming industry, Scott Reynard's The Pristine Coast. (Morton was previously featured in Twyla Roscovich's documentary Salmon Confidential, which screened at VIFF 2013.)
There'll also be a special screening of Anne Wheeler's dramatic feature Bye Bye Blues, to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
The festival, which runs from September 25 to October 10, will also feature 20 short films by B.C. filmmakers.
Here's a list of the features in this year's B.C. Spotlight:
Black Fly (dir. Jason Bourque)
Jake Henson (Dakota Daulby) is a troubled teen haunted by the deaths of his parents—his father in a hunting accident and mother by suicide—who escapes an abusive uncle to reconnect with his older brother Noel (Matthew MacCaull). In director Jason Bourque's taut thriller, their reunion on an isolated island on the BC coast shows that even though blood is thicker than water, it's still blood. And it’s messy as hell.
Bloody Knuckles (dir. Matt O’Mahoney)
After having this hand lopped off by a gangster he’s offended, a brash underground cartoonist watches the disembodied appendage return to life and become a reanimated avenging angel/defender of free speech. Deliriously irreverent, wantonly vulgar and perversely gory, Matt O’Mahoney’s splatter horror flick is one of the year’s most gonzo genre offerings and "signals an underground spirit thriving in Vancouver…"—Spectacular Optical
The Boy From Geita (dir. Vic Sarin)
Born with albinism, young Adam is ostracized in his Tanzanian village and violently assaulted by witch doctors who believe that his limbs possess mystic properties. A Canadian born with the same condition hears of Adam’s plight and takes action. "Harrowing and poignant… Vic Sarin's [documentary], with its searing images, is both ode to human resilience and ingenuity, and indictment of human cruelty and stupidity."—Globe and Mail
Everything Will Be (dir. Julia Kwan)
Director Julia Kwan documents the pivotal changes affecting the culture and economy of Vancouver's Chinatown, one of the oldest in North America. With humour and sympathy, Kwan introduces us to residents who see their way of living eroding and to others who welcome the transition, including real-estate marketer Bob Rennie.
Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (dir. Grant Baldwin)
As a society, we devour countless cooking shows, culinary magazines and foodie blogs. We love food and yet—thanks to our expensive obsession with expiry dates, perfect produce and portion sizes—we throw nearly half of it in the trash. Attempting to live waste-free, filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer subsist on discarded food for six months. Their documentary charts this experiment’s shocking revelations. Winner, Emerging Artist Award, Hot Docs 2014.
Martin’s Pink Pickle (dir. René Brar)
A boy follows his girlfriend to Hope, an ironically named small town where his dreams die a slow death. However, his settled lifestyle is disrupted by a trip back to the city for a medical appointment, where he and a friend become stranded for 24 hours. René Brar tells the story of two troubled kids who never really grew up while examining the complex nature of relationships.
Preggoland (dir. Jacob Tierney)
35-year-old Ruth (Sonja Bennett, who also penned the uproarious screenplay) fakes being pregnant to fit in with her child-rearing friends. This latest comedy from Jacob Tierney (The Trotsky) will have you cringing in between fits of uncontrollable laughter as Ruth’s web of lies becomes increasingly tangled. The road to acceptance has never been so baby-bumpy and this local comedy will have you laughing until you birth. Sorry, burst.
The Pristine Coast (dir. Scott Renyard)
Wild fish populations in BC have been declining since the late 70s, roughly the same time the open net fish farm industry began to grow fish in marine waters. Focussing on the research of biologist Alexandra Morton, filmmaker Scott Renyard links the crash of many fish species on Canada's West coast to diseases spread from fish farms in this persuasive and urgent call to action.
Sitting On the Edge of Marlene (dir. Ana Valine)
Ana Valine's darkly comic drama centres on mother/daughter con artists who just can't catch a break. Seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Sammie (Paloma Kwiatkowski)—who lives with her pill-popping, alcoholic mom Marlene (Suzanne Clément)—this bittersweet journey leads us through dysfunction, love and addiction, before culminating with an unusual deliverance for this compelling pair. Winner, Best Director, Leo Awards 2014.
Songs She Wrote About People She Knows (dir. Kris Elgstrand)
Carol (Arabella Bushnell) has a unique way of dealing with her frustrations with family, friends and co-workers: writing brutally honest songs (that frequently feature threats of violence) and leaving them on their voicemail. Carol's creative catharsis has some immediate and unexpected consequences in this hilarious, offbeat comedy from writer-director Kris Elgstrand.
Turbulence (dir. Soran Mardookhi)
Writer-director Soran Mardookhi brings us the moving story of Sherzad (Kamal Yamolky) and his estranged young daughter, Jina. A former electrical engineer in Iraqi Kurdistan, he’s now trying to make a new life for himself in his adopted home of Canada. Jina (Camillia Mahal) numbs her harrowing childhood memories with drugs. But even among other misfits, she has a hard time fitting in...
Two 4 One (dir. Maureen Bradley)
Maureen Bradley’s debut feature is a bittersweet romantic comedy with a transgender hero in an unimaginable predicament. Oddball couple Miriam and Adam have an ill-advised and pivotal one night stand that sees them both wind up pregnant. Engagingly shot by Amy Belling, watch for standout performances from Gavin Crawford (This Hour Has 22 Minutes), Naomi Snieckus (Mr. D) and Gabrielle Rose.
Violent (dir. Andrew Huculiak)
Best known as the drummer for Vancouver-based We Are the City, Andrew Huculiak makes his directorial debut with this beautiful, atmospheric film shot in Norway and inspired by the band's latest album. It stars newcomer Dagny Backer Johnsen as a young woman who, after enduring a catastrophic event, loses herself in memories of the people who loved her most.
25TH ANNIVERSARY SCREENING
Bye Bye Blues (dir. Anne Wheeler, 1989)
Anne Wheeler's most decorated film is an upbeat musical melodrama based on her mother's wartime memories. Beautifully shot by cinematographer Vic Sarin, it’s bittersweet and poignant, with fine performances by Rebecca Jenkins and Robyn Stevan, both of whom won Genies for their work.