VIFF 2014: Above Us All circles around grief and landscapes

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      Above Us All (Netherlands/Belgium)

      Above Us All is full of moments of such hypnotic beauty that you can forgive some of its faults in attempting to capture the world in 360 degrees. Director Eugenie Jansen uses a slowly revolving camera to tell the story of a half-Aboriginal girl uprooted from Australia after her mother's death to her father's homeland and the World War I killing fields of Ypres. With hardly any script, Jansen tells the story mostly through meditative pictures, of rugged Outback bushscapes and rolling fields; circles recur in the huge white satellite discs where her father works in Australia and in the bomb craters of Ypres. The metaphors about the Great War and a girl's grief don't always loop together as clearly, but young actor Shaylea Sands centres this ambitious film with her quiet strength, and the visuals, far from being gimmicky or dizzying, are poetically immersive. The imagery and the technique give the viewer an almost visceral sense of our small place in the cosmos. Unlike anything you've seen before, and the kind of formal experiment that you could only catch at VIFF.

      Vancity Theatre, October 4 (7 p.m.) and 5 (1:30 p.m.)