Five February B.C. film festivals offer opportunities to explore the world beyond

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      Health measures during the pandemic may have prevented people from watching films at cinemas, but online festivals have opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Once-landlocked screen celebrations can now reach a wider geographic range of audience with online offerings. Such is the case with the following upcoming film programs that can be seen in Vancouver, elsewhere in B.C., and some even beyond.

      In addition, some of the selections, that were previously presented at other events like the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Whistler Film Festival, are a second chance to catch titles if you may have missed recent opportunities to do so. 

      The Victoria Film Fest will feature All-in Madonna, starring Melanie Rose Wilson (right).

      Victoria Film Festival

      February 5 to 14

      Forget the ferry fare this time around—this year’s 27th edition will present all 50 features and 23 shorts from 21 countries to B.C. web viewers for its 10-day run.

      There’s everything from the Vancouver Island–filmed All-in Madonna to the Canadian premiere of The Secret Garden, starring Colin Firth, to international selections like Japan’s antiwar fantasy Labyrinth of Cinema, the South American documentary Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, and the Chinese disaster blockbuster Skyfire. And as an added bonus, filmmakers will chat in virtual Q & A sessions.

      The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Unnecessary Sequel is one of two Jennifer Abbott films at the Powell River Film Festival.

      Powell River Film Festival

      February 5 to 16

      Powell River’s historic Patricia Theatre, where this annual festival is presented to locals, has remained dark since last March, due to the pandemic. But this year, everyone across the province will be able to take in the festival’s 20th edition in its first online version.

      The 12 features (plus free short films) include the B.C. Indigenous supernatural mystery Monkey Beach and big-name queer dramas Ammonite and Falling.

      Plus, B.C. filmmaker Jennifer Abbott—whose The Magnitude of All Things and The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel are in the lineup—will participate in an online Film Philosopher’s Café.

      Errance sans retour (Wandering: A Rohingya Story) chronicles the exodus of persecuted Muslims from Myanmar.

      Rendez-vous French Film Festival

      February 4 to 14

      This annual Vancouver-based fête of francophone films from Quebec and around the world will offer more than 60 titles en français to viewers in B.C., Alberta, and Yukon, with some limited access from elsewhere in Canada.

      Among the picks are the Canadian documentary Errance sans retour (Wandering: A Rohingya Story), about the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh; Miss, a comedy about a young man who participates in the Miss France beauty pageant; and the world premiere of Jean-Sébastien Lozeau’s Live Story, Chronique d’un couple. (A new viewing-platform website is about to launch for this online edition, with all the necessary details.)

      Horse Tamer, directed by Hamid Sardar, shows how horses relied on by nomadic Mongolian tribes are being stolen and sold to slaughterhouses in Russia.

      Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

      February 19 to 28

      With more than 50 films to choose from about outdoor recreation and mountain culture—plus workshops and panel discussions—this is one way to get outside even when you’re staying in.

      Among the premieres are “Crux”, about how a recovering addict dealt with the pandemic separating him from what helped him with his mental-health struggles: rock climbing; “Beyond the Break”, a profile of a multisport professional athlete who doesn’t let his high level of paralysis stop him; and Horse Tamer, about a relentless horseman determined to catch those who stole his horse in northern Mongolia.

      There’s everything from water and snow sports to biking and cycling adventures to environmental and health issues and Indigenous and women profiles in the lively mix.

      The Poet & The Patrician: Baldwin vs Buckley, an audio recrecation of their famous 1965 debate, will be presented at US: A Black People's Month Festival.

      Us: A Black People’s Month Festival

      Film festival content available from February 25 to 28

      Vancouver’s Ensemble Theatre is curating a free online arts festival, Us: A Black People’s Month Festival, with new shows released every Thursday until February 25, and content will remain available until the end of the month.

      For its final show on February 25, Film Festival: A Drive-In Experience will offer a collection of local and international works to celebrate Black screen talent. A fine way to cap off Black History Month, which, of course, is always inspiration for year-round learning.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.