VIFF 2017: First week of special presentations brings a martial arts epic, a superpig, and a grouchy old artist

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      Very big rooms, very big screens, and some very big guests. The first week of special presentations at VIFF this year is a doozy for authentic film lovers.

      OKJA  Bong Joon-ho's fabulous grown-up fairy tale is a critical and popular smash, but the Netflix-financed feature—starring Jake Gyllenhall and Tilda Swinton—drew controversy when it was booed at its Cannes premiere earlier this year. No reflection at all on the quaity of Bong's film; attendees were dismayed that the streaming giant had no plans for a theatrical release, making VIFF's extra-plus-sized screening at the Centre on Saturday (September 30) a very rare treat indeed. Now add the presence of Bong himself along with effects supervisor Erik-Jan de Boer for a post-movie discussion, and that's your Saturday night wrapped up. Starts at 7 p.m.

      HIDDEN SWORD  Here's a major scoop for the festival. Nothing deserves the full theatrical experience like a good Chinese historical swordplay epic, and by all accounts, the newest from director Xu Haofeng is a masterpiece of breathlessly balletic action and peerless filmmaking technique. Hidden Sword hasn't even opened in China yet, so save money on that trip to Beijing. Star Zhang Aoyue and producer Guan DanDan will be in attendance for a Q&A following the film's premiere at the Playhouse on Wednesday (October 4). Starts at 9 p.m.  

      I'VE GOT THE BLUES  After working as the great Ann Hui's art director, Angie Chen gets behind the camera for this portrait of another giant, painter-musician-activist Yank Wong, a combative dyed-in-the-wool radical who keeps Chen on her toes as he's pursued by the filmmaker from Hong Kong to Macao to Paris. Chen will be in attendance with producer Pamela Lay when I've Got the Blues gets its world premiere at International Village on Wednesday (October 4). Starts at 6:30 p.m.