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The City of Victoria, home to comics, cakes and the more modern business of incubators, rocks a 25-year-old festival dedicated to the art of the flickering light. Well, perhaps not so flickering, as technical evolution has brought the advent of the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) – which while practical, lacks a little romance. Like a great movie, VFF’s 25 has featured romance, chaos, laughter, anger and betrayals, but unfortunately no gun shot in the dark. Which all goes to report that the festival has had, shall we say, moments? So, what were the shareable standout occasions over the years? Easily defined by events instantly recalled and not needing a long search through the archives. The very first VFF coup was snaring Smoke Signals’ Canadian premiere, with the film’s writer Sherman Alexie, actor Evan Adams, and producer Scott Rosenfelt accompanying the film. The audience was multicultural and it inspired VFF to screen Indigenous film annually, starting us on the path to screening films for other underserved communities. Securing our first celebrity guest, also in 1998, was a push outside the comfort zone as John Waters of Pink Flamingo fame gave a remarkably funny stand-up performance before asking to be driven to the “bad” parts of Victoria and his mom’s childhood home.

The warmth and opportunity the VFF offered is my highlight of 23 years with the festival. One of the VFF’s most influential moments came when Gerald Hartwig gave us the keys to The Vic. It gave us an opportunity to show independent film year-round and fill the community with something other than mainstream cinema. It also gave us more stability as an organization and for that I will always be thankful.



To the lights and the languages The food and the films To the art and the darkness And the energy that it brings #25VFFs

Kathy Kay Festival Director

Many interesting characters have attended the festival – Gareth Edwards (director Star Wars Rogue One) when he was barely past using his bedroom for his FX studio, while Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna (Life of Pi) spent the day with six thrilled Victoria-based composers drinking whisky in front of a fire in the festival hospitality suite.




LOOKING BACK: KEY FILMS FROM THE VFF’S 25 YEARS It had been 40 years since Linda Blair, 60, delivered her Oscar-nominated performance as Regan, the girl whose demonic possession in The Exorcist had prompted gasps and shrieks around the world. Indeed, who can forget that classic head-spinning scene in which her foul-mouthed character projectile-vomits green pea soup with a vengeance. It was laughter, however, that the actress and animal rights activist was prompting one wintry evening at the Capitol 6 in 2012 as she assuaged any fears that front-row fans at a Victoria Film Festival screening might have had. “I didn’t have pea soup for dinner. You’re safe,” she deadpanned, before reminiscing about William Friedkin’s horror classic. Her appearance – and our dinner at Zambri’s beforehand – were among many memorable moments from past editions of the festival that played out in my head as flashbacks when I was invited to reminisce about Victoria’s cinematic showcase as the festival marks its silver anniversary. Blair was one of hundreds of actors, writers, producers, directors, musicians, film and television executives and other industry players who have participated in what Variety has recognized as one of the world’s leading film festivals. Indeed, what a difference 25 years makes. Since the festival uttered its first cries in the mid-90s as the Victoria Independent Film and Video Festival, a modest collaboration between CineVic Society of Independent Filmmakers and Origins Theatre, it has grown from a three-day event to a 10-day festival with an annual audience of 25,000 at last count. Not bad for a modest festival that naysayers once predicted would fade to black, declaring that Victoria was more of a “book town” and couldn’t sustain a film festival this ambitious. While space doesn’t permit a complete list of participants I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know while covering this festival, there are many worth noting. Standouts include Victoria’s Atom Egoyan, here as guest of honour in 2001 and in 2014, when he returned to present Devil’s Knot; filmmakers John Waters, the sultan of sleaze himself and Alan Rudolph, the Robert Altman protégé and godfather of independent filmmaking. Also the late Arthur Hiller, John Landis, Bruce McDonald, Guy Maddin, Gareth Edwards, Richie Mehta, Lewis Teague and Carl Bessai; composer Mychael Danna; legendary screenwriter Stewart Stern (Rebel Without a Cause), and cinematographers Laszlo Kovacs – reminiscing about how great the light was while he was here to shoot sequences for Five Easy Pieces – John Bailey (The Big Chill) and Bill Butler (Jaws).


Others include Siberian supermodel-turned-filmmaker Irina Pantaeva, Victoria-born multiple Grammy winner David Foster, Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton, and actors such as Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Gordon Pinsent, Barry Pepper, Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones), Jonathan Lipnicki, Matt Frewer, Richard Farnsworth, Beverly D’Angelo, Mary Walsh, Gabrielle Rose, Dirk Benedict, Emilie Ullerup – who played a bookish zombie-hunter in the Canuck comedy A Little Bit Zombie before going on to star in Hallmark’s hit series Chesapeake Shores – and frequent guest Don McKellar, who has often worn his writer and director hats as well. This cinema showcase wouldn’t be the same without the wit and warmth of festival favourite Larry Weinstein, the Torontobased producer-director who has had world premieres here for several projects, many of them works-in-progress, including Mulroney: The Opera, Inside Hana’s Suitcase and Mozartballs, which got more ink than anticipated when a cake crowned with 250 lit candles to celebrate Mozart’s birthday set off fire alarms at the Odeon. A Weinstein highlight was Auschwitz survivor George Brady’s standing ovation when he made a surprise appearance after the screening of Inside Hana’s Suitcase, his documentary on Brady’s sister, the young Czech Jew who died in a concentration camp at age 13. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. While many high-profile guests have walked the pink carpet – including Charles Martin Smith (Stone of Destiny), who despite his filmmaking achievements will forever be remembered as Toad in American Graffitti – star power has never been what this festival is about. “It’s fun and glamorous but Victoria audiences are pretty savvy. They’re really more into the films,” says Kathy Kay, who has been festival director since 1997, succeeding Deborah de Boer, the Rogue Gallery owner who now runs Antimatter Festival. And what a lineup of films there has been – pictures populated with activists, feisty seniors, whiz kids, sex addicts, culinary wizards, zombies, con artists, Canuck crusaders, proud Scotsmen, tyrants, crime lords, geeks, eccentrics and road warriors. Personal favourites include Spellbound, Saving Luna, Smoke Signals, All the Time in the World, Finding Vivian Meier, Alan Partridge, Sammy Davis Jr: I’ve Gotta Be Me, The Party, Our Man in Tehran, Scorn, Theo Fleury: Playing With Fire, My Father and the Man in Black and Gone South: How Canada Invented Hollywood.

Kudos to Kay and programmer Donovan Aikman as well for their diverse slate of global fare, with films from Switzerland, the U.K., Denmark and other countries carved into specialty programs. And what’s not to love about its annual Quebec films showcase? This festival also has been a worthy, evolving showcase for Indigenous films, a recent highlight being The Sun at Midnight starring The Revenant’s Duane Howard – and National Film Board gems. And it’s been an invaluable launching pad for films by local talent such as Connor Gaston’s crisis-of-faith drama The Devout; Two4One, Maureen Bradley’s offbeat romantic comedy with a transgender protagonist; Mulligans, Canadian College of Performing Arts alumnus Charlie David’s drama about a family torn apart by a married man’s attraction to his son’s gay best friend, and When Elephants Were Young, the remarkable documentary from Patricia Sims and Michael Clark that explores the plight of endangered elephants. The history-repeats-itself premise of Groundhog Day sprang to mind during my festival flashbacks. A natural trigger is that annual ritual – the Friday night reunion of guests like Canadian Film Centre COO Sheena McDonald, AMC vice-president of programming and operations Harold Gronenthal, and CTV film critic Richard Crouse flying in year after year, arriving in time to schmooze at the Patrons Reception and Opening Gala while still on Toronto time. They’ve contributed significantly to events such as Springboard, joining local luminaries like Pat Ferns, Banff Television Festival’s former executive director who with McDonald co-founded its predecessor Trigger Points Pacific in 2005 to give Canadian producers a chance to pitch projects to bigwigs.

including Kabuki Kabs, a doghouse in Centennial Square and Victoria City Hall’s clock tower; the popular Let’s Make a Movie workshops; Sips ‘n’ Cinema, themed art exhibitions and so on. Personal social scene highlights included the proverbial sight of double-takes at Big Bad John’s during ritualistic visits with curious out-of-town festival guests, especially the night I walked in with a coterie of attractive and lively lesbians. There was a similar reaction at the Irish Times Pub when I was accompanied by Eleni Semikina, the towering former Miss Universe Canada and Our Man in Tehran executive producer before being joined by Ken Taylor, Canada’s gentlemanly, surprisingly down-to-earth former ambassador to Iran. It was as much fun socializing with them as it was hanging out with Barry Pepper and inseparable pals Charles Martin Smith and producer Rob Merilees (Capote), these three amigos relishing this reunion.


One thing I’ve always loved about the Victoria Film Festival is its emphasis on documentaries (Weird Sex and Snowshoes, anyone?) and Canadian films in general, many that might never have been seen by local audiences otherwise. Take, for example, Ben Ratner’s Down River; Trent Carlson’s early festival hit The Delicate Art of Parking; Ham and Cheese, the mockumentary about the exploits of two talentless actors that launched the career of longtime festival fan Warren P. Sonoda; and Mike Hanus’ zany homegrown comedy Jackhammer.

A particularly memorable night was in 2001, when the late Harry Loucas, who owned Victoria Harbour House, demonstrated the legendary hospitality he would discreetly extend to show folks. On a whim, the refined restaurateur invited me to bring Carradine and Benedict and some guests down for dinner on him, complete with cigars and brandy. An eclectic group of showbiz types wandered into James Bay from the Capitol 6 after the screening of Benedict’s malebonding comedy Cahoots, including Carradine’s old friend, Victoria-based artist Duncan Regehr, and Cowboy Junkies bassist Alan Anton. The consensus was that it was a dinner and conversation they’d never forget – one of those organic experiences that can’t be programmed, but that reflect what this stylishly seductive festival can inspire when cinephiles surrender to its allure. – Michael D.Reid

And, oh, does this festival know how to throw a party! Fond memories linger like the aroma of fresh popcorn from many spectacular galas, notably a speakeasy-flavoured shindig, the transformation of the historic Promis Building into Noir, a faux 1940s-era nightclub enlivened by Naden Band’s Pacific Blue big band and swing dancers in 2015, and into a Freudian dreamscape a year later, with sweet dreams, naughty dreams and nightmares visualized. Then there was that 1960s-themed bash that incorporated nods to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a Central Park hippie be-in and a replica of Andy Warhol’s Factory, and last year’s Scottish-themed gala – cue the kilts, bagpipes and whisky – at the Bay Centre. Peripheral events have been equally memorable. Highlights include Converge, with films screened in offbeat venues,







PG 45-97 UK PG 46-52 ITALIAN PG 53-54 FRENCH PG 62-63 ASIAN PG 87-97 NORDIC PG 68-74

SHORTS PG 98-101





PG 16-17 PG 106-109


PG 103 PG 113 PG 110-111 PG 115 PG 116-117 PG 114






Festival Director: Kathy Kay Head Programmer: Donovan Aikman Operations Manager: Jenna Savage Development and Volunteer Coordinator: Ben Prus Communications: Kinga Binkowska Community Engagement: Raviraj Reetoo The Vic Theatre: Will Banks Graphic Designer: Chantelle Mussell Industry Manager: Tara-Lee Novak Program Notes: Alex Rogalski and Programming Team

WILL BANKS (American) William Banks’ passion for film began while studying ethnographic and cultural cinema at the University of Victoria and has led him to becoming a member of the Victoria Film Festival’s selection team for the past several years. He currently manages The Vic Theatre in downtown Victoria, where he helps program the theatre’s unique selection of films year-round.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS President: Dan McDonagh Vice President: Pat Ferns Secretary: Marcus Handman Treasurer: Joel Cave Directors at Large: Barbara Todd Hager Rain Li Sheena Macdonald David Simmonds

ADVISORY COMMITTEE RICHIE MEHTA is a Canadian film director. His first feature film, Amal, was released in 2008, and was nominated for Best Motion Picture and Best Director at the 29th Genie Awards. He is also known for Siddharth and I’ll Follow You Down (both 2013). His latest project is India in a Day (2016). His work centres on culturally diverse story-driven films that come from a very personal place. LARRY WEINSTEIN is one of Canada’s most prolific and accomplished documentary filmmakers. His films have been broadcast in more than 40 countries, and he has been honoured with retrospectives around the world. The majority of his 30 award-winning films centre on music and the creative process. His films consistently push the boundaries of conventional documentary storytelling by employing tools from fiction films, dramatic reconstructions, historical cinematic stylings, and impressionistic visuals. In 2007, Larry received the Cannes MipDoc International Trailblazer Award with the citation, “Weinstein is a deserving awardee for his creativity, originality and risk-taking, and for pushing the genre of documentary forward.”


KINGA BINKOWSKA (European) before joining the VFF, helped establish the Queen of the Square, an arthouse cinema in Stratford, Ontario, where she served as programming director. Binkowska has been part of the programming team at the Zurich Film Festival since 2012. She holds an MFA in Media and Film Production from Ecole Supérieure de Commerce de Paris and an MFA in Media & American Studies from the University of Lodz. JO DUNCOMBE (UK) is a film programmer manager at the British Council, specializing in European film festivals and short film. She is also a curator for Birds Eye View Films, a national project which aims to grow audiences for films by women. Previously she was a film programmer at the Independent Cinema Office, where she worked strategically to develop the future of independent cinemas across the UK through innovative programming. Before joining the ICO, Duncombe was the program director of the London Short Film Festival. PETER GÖLZ (German) is an associate professor in UVic’s Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies where he teaches courses on German film and a course on the cultural history of vampires. He has published in the areas of German literature, German film, humour studies, and vampirology. BARBARA TODD HAGER (Indigenous) is a Métis/ Cree writer, director and producer. In 1999 she launched Aarrow Productions, which has grown into one of Canada’s leading Indigenous-owned media companies. She has produced over 150 TV episodes and documentaries that have been broadcast on APTN, CBC, CTV and ZDF. Her eight-part docu-drama series, 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus, covers 20,000 years of history told from the perspective of Indigenous people. 1491 won three 2018 Leo Awards for Best Documentary Series, Best Screenwriting and Best Music Composition. She’s directed three one-hour documentaries including Truth, Dance & Reconciliation, From Bella Coola to Berlin and Motown High. 

ARNOLD LIM (Asian) Arnold Lim is an award-winning filmmaker and journalist who has directed and produced more than a dozen independent films, screening internationally including at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Victoria Film Festival. A long-time film juror, his programming credits include VFF, the Vancouver Asian Film Festival, and Short Circuit. GABOR PERTIC (Nordic Documentary) attended the University of Toronto as a specialist in cinema studies, graduating with an Honours BA. After working as a film critic in Toronto, he worked in the programming department of the Toronto International Film Festival – four of those years working as programming associate to TIFF Director & CEO Piers Handling. In addition to TIFF, Gabor is the senior programming coordinator and international programmer for North America’s largest documentary-exclusive film festival, Hot Docs. DAN RUSSEK (Spanish Language) is an associate professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies at the University of Victoria. He is the president of the Hispanic Film Society of Victoria and coordinates the Annual Latin American and Spanish Film Week at Cinecenta, now in its 10th year. LINCOLN Z. SCHLENSKY, PhD (Middle East) is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of Victoria, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American and postcolonial cinemas and literature. His research areas include film history as well as Jewish and postcolonial literary studies. Lincoln has served as the film programmer, since 2015, and the director, since 2017, of the annual Victoria International Jewish Film Festival. He has served as a film juror for a number of other festivals, including the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival and the Human Rights DocFest. 

MARK BRADLEY has been producing work for nearly 20 years. At 291 Film Company, he produces award-winning documentaries for broadcasters including the documentary Channel, APTN, Oasis, VisionTV, Knowledge, and City. He produced the theatrical feature and digital media project Bugs on the Menu, which was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. DAVID GEISS grew up in the 80s and 90s on a fourthgeneration Saskatchewan homestead in Treaty 4 territory, and now lives on Vancouver Island in Coast Salish territory. He holds a screenwriting MFA from the University of Victoria and a film & video production BFA from the University of Regina. His films and documentaries have screened on television, online, and at festivals around the world. David has worked with several non-profit organizations including Saskatchewan Filmpool Cooperative, Queer City Cinema Film & Performing Arts Festival, and Modo. He is currently the executive director of CineVic.



MIKE HOOLBOOM is a Canadian media artist and writer. RICHARD REEVES is an independent animated kinetic film scratcher, traveler of time and space, light sensitive, looper of film loops and projected moving images. An anima-monk whose projection bulbs bring total enlightenment. ALI WEINSTEIN is a documentary filmmaker based in Toronto. Her first film, Mermaids, about a group of women who strongly identify with the empowered icon of the mermaid, debuted at Hot Docs 2017. She recently co-directed The Impossible Swim, about a young marathon swimmer, airing on TSN this winter. Ali holds an MFA in documentary media studies from Ryerson University.     

RAVI SRINIVASAN (Nordic Fiction) is a film programmer based in Toronto. For the last five years, Ravi has served as programming associate for The Toronto International Film Festival, working with films from Canada, the Nordic regions and the Phillippines. Ravi also serves as international programming associate for HotDocs, lead programmer for National Canadian Film Day, and is the executive director of the South Western International Film Festival based in his hometown of Sarnia, Ontario.  When he’s not watching festival submissions, he’s strategizing his fantasy football teams and listening to Sharon Van Etten.


The Victoria Film Festival is celebrating its 25th year as a not-for-profit charitable arts organization! That’s 25 years of helping independent filmmakers find a venue for their diverse voices, and 25 years of bringing the world to Victoria’s doorstep. These donors have directly contributed to bringing great independent film to Victoria and have helped 1,250 Greater Victoria youth gain access to VFF’s comprehensive education program, CineKids, in school classrooms, youth groups, youth centres, and libraries. WANT TO BECOME A VFF DONOR? See page 118 to see how you can enjoy exclusive benefits like access to parties, film guests, and sneak peeks into the best of Canadian and international cinema.


Frank & Olga Urbanski Sheena Macdonald and Phil Schmitt

PRODUCERS CIRCLE FILM REEL Daniel R McDonagh June & Donnie Wing Lyndsay Green


Bruce Gauld Julia Retallack Rain Li Santa


Alyse Frampton Anne Dobbie Anne Macnab David Zussman and Sheridan Scott David Nelson Christina Drake Helen McDonald and Bill Graham Joel Cave Kathy Kay Marcus Handman and Gwendolyn Maroon Marie-Pierre Lavoie Translation Inc. Susan Snell W. Paterson Ferns




Carol Pettigrew Cathy Leslie David and Zita Conway Frances Grunberg Ingrid Mesquita Kate & Collin Clinton Marjie Welchframe Norma Butterfield Ron Cox Sheila Whincup Shirley Richardson Terry Vatrt


Audrey McClellan Beverley Houldsworth David Simmonds Laurie Tighe Livia Meret Merrie-Ellen Wilcox Natasa Cecez Sekulic Ronald P Parish Stuart Munger

VFF Window Displays graciously provided by: James Bay Coffee & Books; UVIC Bookstore; Victoria Bead Town Designs; Zambri’s



MARCH 8 + 9, 2019

MARCH 12 – 16, 2019

MARCH 19 – 23, 2019




Written and performed by Franco Nguyen

Created by Hannah Moscovitch, Ben Caplan, & Christian Barry

Written and performed by Mike Delamont

★★★★★ “A spectacular evening of theatre! Delamont has an almost supernatural gift for storytelling.” — CBC RADIO




“…an honest, touching and irreverent investigation of family, heritage and love.” —GLOBE & MAIL



★★★★★ “A thing of raw and unmissable beauty." — HERALD SCOTLAND





Supported by the Province of British Columbia







Thank you, and congratulations on your 25th Anniversary, VFF!

Hon. John Horgan Hon. Carole James PREMIER MLA, LANGFORD JUAN DE FUCA




Mitzi Dean

Hon. Lana Popham Hon. Rob Fleming







5MLAs-VicFilmFest-1812.indd 1

2018-12-11 11:50 AM



A Garden for all Seasons

SHOP , DINE , DISCOVER ! | 560 Johnson St. 250.652.5256

Feast JU N E 13 - 15

Delicious Films, Food & Drinks Come Nosh With Us, Tickets at FEASTFOODFILM.CA

Welcome to the 2019 Victoria Film Festival. This year marks the 25th edition of this celebration, which brings together a diverse mix of the best films from across Canada and the world. Since its inception, this festival has emphasized the work of independent Canadian filmmakers, giving them a premier showcase for their stories. Our government believes the arts transcend our country’s many cultures and vast distances. Events like this provide common ground where we can celebrate who we are. That is why our government is proud to support this festival. As Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism, I’d like to thank the organizers, artists and volunteers for their efforts in contributing to the continuing success of this event. Enjoy the shows! PABLO RODRIGUEZ - Minister of Canadian Heritage

A MESSAGE FROM THE HONOURABLE JOHN HORGAN As Premier of the Province of British Columbia, it is my great pleasure to welcome everyone to the 2019 Victoria Film Festival. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the VFF, an organization that consistently offers wonderful opportunities for audiences to take in the talent and creativity of filmmakers, animators, and documentarians from across our province, nation, and the world. Cultural events like this have potential to help foster inclusion and connection not only through stories on screen, but also through the complementary social gatherings, workshops, and discussions. The efforts of festival programmers to present enriching cinematic works and activities are admirable, and the range of this festival’s annual lineup reflects and supports B.C. its’ values of diversity, technical innovation and artistic expression. I hope many community members get to take part in the festival this year, and with plenty of attractions across several venues over multiple days, everyone can find something to enjoy. This scale of undertaking comes together only through the hard work and passion of dedicated organizers and volunteers, and I thank all of them for their time and service. I have no doubt that the silver jubilee program will be inspiring, entertaining, and thought-provoking. Please accept my best wishes for the most successful season yet and enjoy the shows!

A MESSAGE FROM CHRISTA DICKENSON Festivals play a vital role in ensuring that Canadian films from all corners of our country are discovered and enjoyed, and that Canadian talent is in the spotlight. The Victoria Film Festival provides a unique opportunity to do just that! Canadian films are brought to the screen by vibrant teams that care deeply about creating the best possible product and reaching audiences at home and abroad. At Telefilm Canada, we are committed to seeing even bigger, and are supported in this endeavour by a growing number of public and private partners, both Canadian and foreign. We are also counting on your commitment so that our talent and their stories may take their rightful place. Our focus is on diversity, a great Canadian asset. We encourage the next generation to dare to make their first feature films. Indigenous filmmakers now enjoy more support, and we have seen our industry come together to support the shared goal of gender parity. We know that these voices will revitalize Canada’s rich cultural heritage and ensure its bright future. I would like to thank and congratulate all those who work to bring our diversity to the screen.



CHRISTA DICKENSON - Executive Director, Telefilm Canada

A MESSAGE FROM THE HONOURABLE LISA HELPS On behalf of the City of Victoria, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 25th annual Victoria Film Festival. As in years past, this stimulating event will showcase over100 feature and short films. With several local, national and global movie premieres to its credit, the festival will continue to introduce Victoria to fresh talent in a diverse range of filmmaking. This long-running and growing festival reflects the creativity and innovation that characterizes Victoria as the arts and culture capital. Congratulations to the committed organizers and volunteers, who not only organize year-round screenings, events, and workshops, but also coordinate the second largest film festival in the province. Thank you for supporting the Victoria Film Festival. Enjoy the show! LISA HELPS - Mayor of Victoria

JOHN HORGAN - Premier of British Columbia



FRIDAY FEBRUARY 1 6:30 PM FILM: Sink or Swim VICTORIA CONFERENCE CENTRE THEATRE 9 PM PARTY – 747 FORT ST Get disco dapper because it’s a hark back to glitz and glamour and yeah, I Love to Love You Baby when you Never Can Say Goodbye because you’re the Dancing Queen. Let’s Give It Up AND Turnit a Loose, you can say You Heard It Though the Grapevine that this party is Never, Never Gonna Give You Up, you will just want More, More, More and if we are all lucky – I Will Survive. It’s an all-inclusive night – frivolity, film, food from the Doubletree, Sheringham’s cocktails, Spinnaker’s brew and a dash of wine served by Vessel Liquor before the Last Dance.



02 01 19


crowd-pleasing + funny + heart-warming

BC Premiere Director: Gilles Lellouche France I 2018 I 122 min



This effervescent comedy from celebrated actorturned-director Gilles Lellouche brings to life a delicious and jaunty spin on The Full Monty. Sink or Swim portrays a group of 40-something men trying to shake off their midlife malaise by celebrating their inner Esther Williams, who decide to form their local pool’s first ever synchronized swimming team – for men. Braving the skepticism and ridicule of those around them, and trained by a fallen champion trying to pull herself together, the group sets out on an unlikely adventure. Sink or Swim’s star-studded ensemble, led by Mathieu Amalric (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), Guillaume Canet (who also appears at this year’s festival in Non-Fiction) and Belgian goofball Benoit Poelvoorde (Saint-Amour, Nothing to Declare) are charmingly sympathetic, and best when riffing off each other. Despite its undeniable hilarity, Sink or Swim is also a surprisingly thoughtful enterprise where Lellouche navigates effortlessly between the rough waters of a good-natured comedy and a pensive drama. He delivers an intelligent and timely reflection on how we define masculinity and how challenging yourself to get out of your comfort zone can give life more zest, if not to grandiosely say a “greater meaning.” But above all, Sink or Swim is well-made, feel-good entertainment that will win your heart in an instant. So jump in, the water’s warm.












Director: Miranda de Pencier Ontario/Nunavut 2018 I 104 min


The village of Kugluktuk, Nunavut overlooks Canada’s Arctic shore. It’s a place of incredible beauty where life is shaped by nature. The Inuit have called it home for millennia, but the impact of colonization has been traumatic and undeniable. When Russ Sheppard, a recent graduate, arrives by plane to become the newest history teacher in Kugluktuk, he’s in for some hard lessons about life in the North. The first of these is a grocery bill for hundreds of dollars for only a dozen everyday items. The next shock is witnessing a community struggling with suicide, especially amongst his would-be students. From these grim beginnings emerges an inspiring story of resilience and respect, based on the true-life events of a settler teacher who used lacrosse to connect with his students and build a relationship founded on mutual understanding. As the team takes shape and sets their focus on a national tournament in Toronto, it is their collective resolve and selfdetermination that fills each scene with hardship, humour, and hope. With a cast of both established Indigenous actors and remarkable first performances, notably by Emerald MacDonald and Paul Nutarariaq, The Grizzlies is a true team effort on screen and behind the scenes. Resisting the conventions of Hollywood underdog sports film, the likes of The Mighty Ducks or Bad News Bears, Inuit producers Stacey Aglok MacDonald (a former Kugluktuk resident) and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Angry Inuk) teamed up with director Miranda de Pencier to create a cross-cultural film about our national sport that’s had audiences cheering across the country.







Director: Don McKellar Ontario I 2018 I 111 min

Based on the Giller-award winning novel by Joseph Boyden, and adapted for the screen by Barbara Samuels (North of 60), Through Black Spruce follows Annie Bird (Tanaya Beatty), a young Cree woman who is looking for her lost sister Suzanne, and her Uncle Will (Brandon Oakes), a bush pilot who’s been deeply affected by his niece’s disappearance. Moving between Annie and Will’s perspectives of recounting the past and their connections to Suzanne, a layered and emotional journey about loss and family is at the heart of the film. Largely shot on location in Toronto and Moosonee, Ontario, the film’s collaborators made a very conscious decision that despite it being a work of fiction, they did not make the communities anonymous, mirroring the settings from the novel. Keenly aware they are addressing the very real issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women, the creative team doesn’t shy away from the weight that holds. Featuring an experienced cast and crew, including actors Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal and Tina Keeper (who also produced the film), it is Brandon Oakes’ performance as Uncle Will that gives the film its soul, along with Tanaya Beatty’s role as Annie, who risks jeopardizing her own life in search of her sister. Our most important stories are often the most difficult ones to share, but the damage of silence is much greater than the pain of the truth. Through Black Spruce is a reminder of cinema’s power to offer a new path forward and one that must be travelled.



Director: Laura Marie Wayne Quebec/Nova Scotia 2018 I 75 min





One night in 2013, outside a club in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, musician Scott Jones was stabbed twice in the back and slashed across the throat because he was gay. The brutal attack left him paralyzed from the waist down and forced him to confront a new reality with limited mobility. His assailant was arrested and charged, but never prosecuted with a hate crime. The assault and subsequent court case received widespread news coverage, eliciting a strong supportive response from the community while Scott faced a new reality as a public figure and paraplegic. Upon hearing the news about her close friend, filmmaker Laura Marie Wayne travelled home to Scott’s bedside in the hospital and, with his consent, began recording. The result of their collaboration is a beautifully crafted and deeply moving story of transformation. Their long relationship brings two artists together, relying on their creative talents as a means to move forward with their lives. Flowing compassionately between their shared past and present, the conversations between the filmmaker and her subject are honest and healing. Wayne’s voice is vulnerable yet assured and the ethereal images she weaves into the film makes this a profoundly personal documentary. Scott’s resilience in returning to the places he holds dear and sharing his musical talent with audiences shows that fear has no place in his life. He courageously shares his journey with the hope that his life can be a positive example for others facing their own challenges and reassure them they’re not alone.




Director: Émilie B. Guérette Quebec I 2017 I 98 min

In the lead-up to the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2018 World Cup, Brazil’s tourism was in overdrive. Rio de Janeiro was marketed as a tropical destination that would celebrate the world’s best athletes, and soccer legend Pelé’s home nation would present the best games amidst sun soaked beaches and a party atmosphere like no other. Quebecois filmmaker Émilie B. Guérette saw another less-polished reality. As Rio underwent a facelift with ambitions to step on to the world’s stage, the postcard-perfect images of Copacabana Beach don’t describe the entire picture. Just beyond the lights of Maracanã Stadium, hundreds of families live in poverty and squalor, casualties of a corrupt government and gang activity that have kept them at the margins of society. The Other Rio provides a personal perspective on an often overlooked community, by seeing the city through their eyes. As children sit on a rooftop of a decaying office tower that was once a federal building, they enjoy celebratory fireworks from a distance, separated from the fleeting festivities. The moments of simple pleasures soften the hard existence they face in their daily lives. Guérette places herself amidst these families without an agenda, providing them an opportunity to graciously share their lives and political perspectives through their daily routines, families and friendships. With a samba soundtrack, glowing cinematography and patient observation, the result is an inviting portrait that shines a light on a vulnerable community forced to live in the shadows, before the world’s attention moved on.


Director: Thom Fitzgerald Nova Scotia I 2018 I 94 min




Belle’s relationship with her conservative mother has been strained ever since she came out as a lesbian in her teens. Years after leaving her parents and brother behind for a fresh start in the city, Belle returns to the family apple orchard for her father’s funeral and a difficult reunion with her mother, Nancy (Shelley Thompson). Complicating matters is that Belle (Sofia Banzhaf) is quickly joined by Rob (Callun Dunphy), a man she would rather her family didn’t know she’s been dating for two years. His unexpected arrival adds another wrinkle to the awkward reunion. Belle is understandably reluctant to rekindle her mom’s hopes for a daughter that will follow in her footsteps. Mining the complexities, humour and hardship of family relations, Thom Fitzgerald (The Hanging Garden) returns to the rustic landscapes of his native Nova Scotia and the dynamics of not fitting in for just being who you are. As a director, he shines by knowing how to approach big themes without veering into the melodramatic, mining the familiar tension and humour of family relations with characters that are immediately relatable. Based on the 2010 stage play by Lee-Anne Poole, Splinters is rooted by the captivating lead performances of Banzhaf and Thompson, who walk the tightrope between a daughter and mother grieving the loss of a loved one while being forced to come to terms with each other and resolve their past. Toe-tapping East Coast folk music and the familiarity of a kitchen party make Fitzgerald’s film a memorable homecoming to a place he knows so well.




Western Canadian Premiere Director: Corey Stanton

Ontario I 2018 I 93 min Best Canadian Feature Toronto After Dark Film Festival Richie (Jeremy Ferdman in a breakout role) is a thief trying to walk the straight and narrow but he’s dug himself into a hole due to a gambling addiction. He lives with his father Frank (Art Hindle) who was a criminal in his day but is now dealing with the early stages of dementia. A great symbiotic relationship from which to start a tale – Richie is trying to mine his dad’s memory for help in pulling off several heists so that he can pay off his debts, and dad is more than willing to share his expertise before he forgets what he knew. Bonding with Frank while his memories continue to slip away, Richie also attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings to battle his own demons. It’s at these meetings that he meets Winona (Sera-Lys McArthur). They’re doing their best to resist shared temptations and come to terms with pasts they can’t escape. As the twists keep unfolding and the stakes get higher, Corey Stanton’s script is filled with surprises and emotional layers that heighten the film beyond the usual crime thriller, and his assured direction makes this an impressive debut feature. The talented ensemble cast ratchets up the suspense to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, but when the chips begin to fall, relationships get tested and it becomes clear everyone has a debt to pay.


Director: Patricia Rozema Ontario I 2018 I 91 min


TIFF I Canada’s Top Ten



After being notified of the sudden death of her mother, an aspiring writer hastily begins to compose a eulogy. Suddenly, amidst making funeral arrangements, Cassandra is forced to confront the causes of her resentment towards her mother. Could it be never receiving the approval she craved? Was it the disdain for her mother’s apparent abandonment of her own aspirations and settling for domestic roles? As she comes to terms with a complicated relationship that was thwarted before it could be resolved, it’s clear that the words she uses to describe her mother’s life will in many ways reflect her own choices. Based on the stage play of the same name and starring its playwrights and performers Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, Mouthpiece is an emotionally-charged drama that explores how across generations, women have addressed their socialization. Director Patricia Rozema continues to make bold cinematic choices in her work casting Nostbakken and Sadava in their original shared stage roles to portray Cassandra, literally depicting the opposing yet occasionally unified inner dialogues of a young woman who is finding her voice. Rozema (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, Mansfield Park) continues to follow familiar themes in her latest feature, exploring feminist consciousness and the struggle for self-expression. As the Globe and Mail said in their review, this may be her “most directly political film, it also may be her most heartfelt and emotionally mature.” Named one of TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten films of 2018, Mouthpiece showcases Rozema’s singular voice in Canadian cinema that remains uniquely distinct and daring.




THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT Director: Kim Nguyen Quebec/Belgium 2018 I 111 mins

Two cousins embark on an ambitious plan to lay a fiberoptic cable from Kansas City to New York, with the final goal of transferring data for stock exchanges a millisecond sooner than their competitors (approximately the time of a single wing-flap of a hummingbird). If successful, they can gain a crucial competitive advantage and make billions in the process. Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) and Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Big Little Lies) portray entrepreneurial relatives Vincent and Anton Zalesky, who attract wealthy speculators to finance the project. However it’s their former boss Eva Torres, a Wall street tycoon played by Salma Hayek in a villainous turn, who ruthlessly threatens to derail their plans. Vincent, in a riveting performance by Eisenberg, is the fast-talking charismatic hustler of a project that needs to pierce through national parks and other occupied territories, while his socially awkward cousin Anton is the computer-nerd coder whose brain the entire project hinges upon. If he can’t make the theory become reality, their whole plan is up in smoke, creating some potentially very upset investors. Despite the premise being fictitious, Academy Award-nominated director Kim Nguyen (Rebelle) makes the story feel very real in an era of greedy venture capitalists, proposed pipelines criss-crossing the continent, and the lightning speed with which our digital society has experienced very disruptive forces harkening a new world order. This culminates in a thrilling drama that shines a light on the qualities that tie humans to progress, and what lengths we will pursue to achieve it.


Director: Jasmin Mozaffari Ontario I 2018 I 93 min


TIFF I Canada’s Top Ten



Lou and Chantal are best friends desperate to leave their hard-luck small town. They’ve been fantasizing about making their way to the bright lights of New York City with the cash they’ve stuffed away from part-time jobs cleaning motel rooms. The night before their anticipated departure, the two high school friends land up at a beach party where Chantal’s possessive ex-boyfriend is keen to assert his power and derail the girls’ plans. What starts as a promising adolescent road movie quickly turns to a story of an attempted escape from circumstances that feel beyond Lou and Chantal’s control. It’s quickly apparent that the excitement for a new beginning in the big city is really a cover for the fact that they risk a future of abuse if they don’t leave. Small-town coming-of-age films have been a right of passage for many first-time directors in Canadian cinema, but Firecrackers upends expectations and delivers an overhaul of a tried-and-true formula. Expanded from her 2013 short film, Jasmin Mozzafari’s directorial feature debut exploded on to the festival circuit, heralding a new voice in Canadian cinema that pushes to the foreground a female-centered narrative that feels both fresh and long overdue. Mozaffari gives agency to Lou and Chantal as they yearn for their independence and depend on each other for the strength to not accept less than what they deserve, no matter how hard the struggle. Featuring a predominantly female cast and crew, and unforgettable performances by Michaela Kurimsky and Karena Evans, Firecrackers dazzles with authenticity and urgency.




Director: Andrea Dorfman Nova Scotia I 2018 I 88 min Documentary

In Kenya, one in three girls will experience sexual violence before turning 18. They are subsequently victims of police discrimination and outcast from their communities if they dare speak out. This human-rights atrocity gained the attention of a multinational group led by Canadian lawyer Fiona Sampson and Tumaini Shelter head Mercy Chidi Baidoo. Tumaini is the Swahili word for hope. It’s evident that is what drives Baidoo’s tireless work, managing a boarding school dedicated to the care of these girls while ensuring the perpetrators cannot hide from their crimes. With a team of legal experts building a legal case representing 11 girls, Sampson and Baidoo pursue an unprecedented fight for justice. If they succeed in their constitutional challenge, they will impact Kenya’s future irrevocably. What sets this ambitious initiative apart is that it’s not only focused on the legal struggle, but provides needed support to these young girls. Delivering health care, counselling, and education, they work with limited means to create a promising future that would otherwise seem impossible. At times, the challenges seem insurmountable, but their resolve and commitment to affect change is truly inspiring. Over half a decade, award-winning filmmaker Andrea Dorfman documented the journey of these brave young women who were willing to risk everything if it meant creating fundamental change that would create equality for girls around the world. Through her whimsical watercolours and hand-drawn animation, she provides a personal voice to thoughtfully craft the portraits of these empowered young women. Sensitively sharing their stories while protecting their privacy, the film gives them a voice when they need to be heard more than ever.


Director: Danae Elon Quebec I 2018 I 81 min





When Marina was a teenager she visited a monastery to do research for a school project. She never realized that having her older sister Tatiana accompany her would forever change their relationship. Tatiana (now referred to as Sister Jerusalem) felt a spiritual calling and devoted herself to a life of monastic reflection. Two decades later, Marina feels compelled to find her sister. Sporadic phone calls and emails have left her feeling disconnected with a sense that Sister Jerusalem is unfulfilled, and perhaps a physical encounter will reveal something that’s been missing between them. After travelling from her home in Israel to Greece, she receives a warm and open welcome by the prioress who encourages her to openly explore her questions about her sister’s faith. Marina politely accepts their generosity, yet grows increasingly frustrated as Tatiana seems to retreat, and a sibling bond is tested as their world views clash. Danae Elon’s camera is an invisible presence, capturing the minutiae of emotion that reveals her characters with patience and reverence. The complexity of the sister’s relationship rests in the moments of silence between them. What Marina sees as entrapment, her sister views as protection. It’s an example of two people describing the same mountain from different sides. At times feeling like a mystery that needs to be resolved, it becomes clear the questions the documentary raises are more about a meditation on family and faith and how we choose to live our lives, especially when a bond by blood is influenced by a higher power.




Director: Astra Taylor Quebec I 2018 I 107 min Documentary

When the United States elected Donald Trump, alarm bells rang and an existential crisis erupted. Or as one of his supporters put it, “he was probably the legal hand grenade that we’ve thrown into the system.” Perhaps the 45th president is not the disease, but a symptom of a model of governance that has failed from neglect. “The greatest penalty for refusing to rule is to be ruled by someone worse than oneself” is how Plato saw it. By defining something, we can better understand and defend it. In this case, director Astra Taylor wisely titled her latest documentary, boldly examining a millennium-old concept through a contemporary lens. Early in the film, Taylor establishes that democracy does this incredible thing by inviting us together to ask the Socratic question, “How should we live?” Yet ancient philosophers doubted our ability to rule ourselves. From this jumpingoff point, politicians, philosophers and the proletariat share their thoughts on class divide, power, and economics that all play a role in elections functioning on a basic premise of one person, one vote. The film is most revealing when those individuals answer the title’s question candidly. Much like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, it’s clear that democracy can’t exist if people don’t believe in it. What’s most frightening is how many people are beginning to question something that was once a given. The film is peppered with Plato, yet it may be Joni Mitchell who sums it up best, “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.”



BC Premiere Director: Charles Officer Canada I 2018 I 90 min Documentary



“Apart from the Bible, there’s no other book that’s been read by so many people,” boldly states Charles Officers’ newest documentary (you may remember him from last year’s Unarmed Verses). But he may be on to something: first published in 1943, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince has surely become one of the most loved books and has been published in over 300 languages. Seventy-five years after its initial publication, it is still touching hearts of readers from around the world. In Invisible Essence, Officer explores the mighty legacy of The Little Prince and attempts to get to the heart of what makes it so special. To help with a deeper understanding of this transcendent story, Officer turns for help to Mark Osborne (director of the animated film The Little Prince), Rupi Kaur (poet, New York Times bestselling author), and the Exupéry family itself in the form of his nephews. But perhaps the most interesting of all interpretations is found with the modern day Little Prince: a seven-year-old Pakistani-Canadian visually impaired boy on the cusp of losing his sight completely. We are taken on the beautiful journey of this little boy absorbing The Little Prince for the first time. Charles Officer’s documentary is an exquisite cinematic meditation on the theme and characters in the book, offering a symphony of critical perspectives and ideas on how this tale has captured the hearts of millions. It also illuminates who we as readers have become and how the story transforms with time. Officer truly distills the essence of Exupéry’s words and stays true to one of his most recognizable quotes: “What is essential is invisible to the eye.”




World Premiere Director: John Bolton British Columbia | 2019 | 75 min Documentary

The National Youth Orchestra of Canada is comprised of 100 musicians who come together over the course of two months each summer. Their collective efforts culminate with a 12city national tour. These prodigious teenagers are brimming with enthusiasm as many leave their homes for the first time to follow their passion and meet like-minded musicians from every part of Canada. The NYO can be a critical step towards a performance career. Receiving invaluable mentorship from some of Canada’s best instrumentalists, they are keen to seize the moment as their individual strings, brass, winds and percussion collate to form a symphonic voice. The focus of their efforts is on Richard Strauss’ tone poem Death and Transfiguration, a 128-year-old composition Strauss created when he was only a few years older than these musicians. Now, they are giving their heart and soul to interpret the story of an artist reflecting on life from his deathbed. As the repertoire grows through rehearsal, these young adults’ anxiety, excitement, and anticipation surrounding their futures are mirrors to the music they create. Director John Bolton composes rich portraits of these remarkable individuals, like flutist Phoebe Robertson who found refuge from her obsessive-compulsive disorder through a sense of community in an orchestra. This new and diverse generation of classical musicians reflects the wealth of talent in this country and the sacrifices they’re willing to make to pursue a dream. Witnessing their transformation into the artists they aspire to be is as inspiring and profound as the classics they perform.




Director: Robin Hayes British Columbia 2018 I 105 min



While hanging with his teenage pals, Luke (Shameless’ Cameron Monaghan) has a moment of clarity, vividly envisioning the death of his best friend Stan. He ignores it after being dismissed and laughed off by his friends, but not before a friend captures the revelation on his camcorder – a nice nod to an era before the ever-present smartphone and immediacy of Snapchat. Shockingly, the next morning his premonition comes to fruition, making him an outcast and freak among his classmates. As he dodges the dogged reporters who have secured from his friends the videotape that validates his vision, Luke and his friend Faye are mourning Stan’s loss while losing what little control they held over their lives. Luke risks losing yet another friend as Faye continues to spiral into alcohol and drug-induced hazes for reasons beyond grief. Adapted from Joanne Proulx’s eponymous award-winning novel, director Robin Hayes delves into the 1990’s with a spot-on soundtrack, Nirvana-inspired hairstyles and tongue-in-cheek jabs at small town malaise. Between the burden of his prophecies and an attraction to his deceased friend’s girlfriend, Luke is doing his best to navigate the complexities of adolescence, which is hard enough without psychic abilities. Featuring Juliette Lewis (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Basketball Diaries) as Luke’s yoga-practising mother who’s always in her son’s corner, Hayes’ debut coming-of-age tale is a stylish and authentic exploration of the youthful struggle to find your place in the world.




THE MUSEUM OF FORGOTTEN TRIUMPHS Director: Bojan Bodružić British Columbia/Bosnia I 2018 I 87 min Documentary Best Canadian Documentary Vancouver International Film Festival

Recorded over 15 years, director Bojan Bodružic constructs a loving tribute to his Bosnian grandparents, as he visits them in their home in their final years and they share their life story. More than a homecoming, Bodružic’s reunion is also an earnest attempt to better understand the place he was evacuated from as a child in 1992 during the war in Saravejo. Spending his formative years in British Columbia, he returned to his homeland in 2000 and began recording his grandparents and the remnants of a country deeply tied to more than half-a-century of conflict. Surviving the Second World War, the collapse of Yugoslavia and the Bosnian war, Emilija and Josip Bodružic are a charming elderly married couple. They casually bicker and laugh about how they remember the past, not as victims, but as a couple making the best of circumstances beyond their control. As they pull items out of yellowed newspaper to share with their grandson, these are not traditional family heirlooms, but artefacts of war, with shells and shrapnel being the physical reminders of why their family was separated for survival. Blending 8mm film and video, the film has the warmth and intimacy of a home movie, but Bodružic wisely knows the history he’s recording goes far beyond the personal. His grandparents’ health is ailing, yet their vivid recollections share the trauma and resilience of a generation who know that forgetting the past and not passing along lessons to their descendants is to waste an opportunity to shape the future for the better.


For our fifth collaboration with the Victoria Film Festival, Québec Cinéma is proud to present a strong selection of works that will move you! The Quebec film industry is reinventing itself, and these new and ambitious features will immerse you in the unique worlds of filmmakers whom you will surely hear more of in the coming years. The Québec Cinéma Tour is 15 years old, and our annual Victoria stop is always special because you, our audiences, have shown us the importance of screening francophone films and how much these movies mean to you! This year, I would, once again, like to thank the Victoria Film Festival team and all of the dedicated volunteers who will be offering you the absolute best cinematic experience! Special thanks to la Société francophone de Victoria for its warm welcome and its support every step of the way, which allowed us to launch our screening project in British Columbia. Enjoy the festival! Pour notre cinquième collaboration avec le Victoria Film Festival, Québec Cinéma est fier de vous présenter une sélection d’œuvres fortes et riches en émotion! De nouvelles propositions cinématographiques audacieuses qui confirment que le cinéma québécois se renouvelle et vous entraîne dans l’univers unique de cinéastes dont vous allez entendre parler beaucoup au cours des prochaines années. La Tournée Québec Cinéma a 15 ans et notre arrêt annuel à Victoria est toujours une étape importante car vous, gens du public, savez nous démontrez d’édition en édition l’impact que la diffusion de films d’expression francophone revêt chez vous ! Cette année encore, je tiens à remercier chaleureusement toute l’équipe du Victoria Film Festival et tous les bénévoles qui sont dédiés à vous offrir la meilleure expérience de cinéma ! Et un merci spécial à la Société francophone de Victoria pour son accueil et son implication à chacune des étapes de la réalisation de notre projet de diffusion en Colombie-Britannique ! Bon festival!



François Lemieux Director of the Québec Cinéma Lab and Tour ABOUT QUÉBEC CINÉMA Québec Cinéma’s mission is to promote Quebec cinema and its artists through promotion and education. Increasing the discoverability of our national cinematography and raising public awareness are at the very heart of the organization’s concerns. Through screenings and workshops, the Québec Cinéma Lab offers a rich educational program. Québec Cinéma also hosts the three most prominent events showcasing the Quebec film industry: the Rendez-vous, the Tour, and the Québec Cinema Gala, which reaches nearly two million viewers at home and around the world each year. – Program notes by Charles-Henri Ramond





Director: Sophie Dupuis Quebec I 2017 I 87 min JP is a quiet, considerate young man who lives in a cramped apartment in Montreal’s suburbs with his exuberant brother Vincent, his girlfriend Mel and his alcoholic mother. The two boys make ends meet by helping their uncle, a small-time drug dealer. It’s a toxic relationship that takes a turn for the worse when JP’s uncle starts pressuring him to get more deeply involved. After making several well-received shorts (including the lovely Faillir in 2012), Sophie Dupuis’ first feature is a realist film of uncommon evocative power. Love and family values clash with delinquency in this singular coming-of-age story showcasing the talents of Jean-Simon Leduc, Théodore Pellerin, Maude Guérin and Paul Ahmarani. Dans la banlieue de Montréal, JP, un jeune homme calme et attentif vit entassé dans un petit appartement avec Vincent, son frère exubérant, Mel sa copine et sa mère portée sur la bouteille. Les deux garçons arrondissent les fins de mois en donnant un coup de main à leur oncle, un petit revendeur de drogue du quartier. Une relation toxique qui s’envenime progressivement alors que JP fait face à la pression de son oncle, désireux de lui confier des responsabilités plus grandes. Après plusieurs courts métrages remarqués (dont le très beau Faillir en 2012), Sophie Dupuis signe un premier long métrage aux accents réalistes doté d’une force évocatrice hors pair. L’amour et les valeurs familiales croisent le fer avec la délinquance urbaine dans ce parcours initiatique hors norme qui met parfaitement en valeur le grand talent des comédiens Jean-Simon Leduc, Théodore Pellerin, Maude Guérin et Paul Ahmarani.





LA GRANDE NOIRCEUR Director: Maxime Giroux Quebec I 2018 I 94 min

To evade conscription and assignment to the front, Philippe, a Quebecer, flees to the western U.S., where he wanders aimlessly from city to city. After winning a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest, he’s robbed and finds himself caught up in a strange humantrafficking group. Philippe’s return to his native Quebec leads to a hallucinated journey through a dark, fascinating and violent country. Abandoning the highly controlled form of his tender Félix et Meira, Maxime Giroux relies on a top-notch cast to tell his utterly unique story set in a dreamlike world, as savage as it is delicate. The portrait of a man lost in the vastness of allconsuming America gives the filmmaker a chance to create a deep and disturbing philosophical meditation on minorities in today’s world. Pour fuir la conscription canadienne et éviter d’être envoyé au front, le Québécois Philippe, est allé se réfugier dans l’ouest américain, où il erre de ville en ville, sans but précis. Après avoir remporté un concours d’imitation de Charlie Chaplin, il se fait dévaliser puis se retrouve bien malgré lui aux mains d’un étrange groupe de trafic humain. Le retour de Philippe dans son Québec natal donnera lieu à un voyage halluciné traversant un pays sombre, fascinant et violent. S’éloignant de la forme très maîtrisée de son très tendre Félix et Meira, Maxime Giroux s’appuie sur une prestigieuse distribution pour composer une histoire à nulle autre pareille qu’il déploie dans un univers onirique aussi sauvage que délicat. Le portrait de cet homme perdu dans l’immensité d’une Amérique dévorante, donne l’occasion au cinéaste de développer une troublante et profonde réflexion philosophique sur la place des minorités.





Director: Sébastien Pilote Quebec I 2018 I 95 min Best Canadian Feature Toronto Film Festival An awkward young adult, Léonie, is getting ready to spend an ordinary summer vacation in her home village in northern Quebec. The grim region and its socio-economic problems, a boring summer job and constant arguments with her conservative stepfather set the tone as the young woman struggles to keep her head above water. When she meets a laid-back guitarist 20 years her senior, her life starts to change. After two poignant features set amidst the harsh realities of rural life (Le vendeur and Le démantèlement), Sébastien Pilote has made a poetic film in which the compassionate optimism of youth squares off against the cynicism of the adult world. Alternating subtly between comedy and drama, the director makes the most of Michel La Veaux’s gorgeous cinematography, an evocative soundtrack, and a self-assured performance by Karelle Tremblay.



Mal dans sa peau de jeune adulte, Léonie, s’apprête à passer des vacances ordinaires dans sa petite ville natale du nord du Québec. Entre la morosité de la région, marquée par un contexte socio-économique difficile, un travail d’été inintéressant et ses conflits répétés avec un beau-père ringard, la jeune fille tente de sortir la tête de l’eau. Lorsqu’elle fait la connaissance d’un guitariste amorphe de vingt ans son aîné, sa vie commence à changer. Après deux longs métrages poignants évoquant les dures réalités des zones rurales (Le vendeur et Le démantèlement), Sébastien Pilote signe une œuvre tout en poésie dans laquelle les convictions humanistes de la jeunesse se heurtent au cynisme du monde des adultes. Alternant subtilement entre comédie et drame, le réalisateur s’appuie sur la lumineuse direction photo de Michel La Veaux, une trame sonore évocatrice et le jeu plein d’assurance de la comédienne Karelle Tremblay.





LES SALOPES OU LE SUCRE NATUREL DE LA PEAU Director: Renée Beaulieu Quebec I 2018 I 97 min

An experiment on the behaviour of skin cells during sexual arousal gives Marie-Claire the excuse she needs to explore her wildest fantasies. Between her seemingly ordinary family life and her many infidelities, the scientist has to cope with deep inner turmoil, leading her to question her whole life. In this film, built on an exceptional performance by Brigitte Poupart (Les affamés) as a liberated woman taking responsibility for her choices, Renée Beaulieu (Le garagiste) has made a bold work that dares to tackle the delicate topic of women’s sexuality. The director challenges our perception of a subject that’s rarely discussed without snap judgments, and lets the viewer come to their own conclusions. There’s little doubt this is a landmark film that people will talk about for years to come. Une expérience sur le comportement des cellules de la peau sous l’effet du désir sexuel donne un prétexte tout trouvé à Marie-Claire pour laisser aller ses fantasmes les plus extrêmes. Entre une vie de famille en apparence tranquille et ses nombreuses aventures extra-conjugales, la scientifique fera face à de profonds déchirements intérieurs qui l’amèneront à se remettre en question. Mettant de l’avant la performance exceptionnelle de Brigitte Poupart (Les affamés) dans le rôle d’une femme libre assumant ses choix, Renée Beaulieu (Le garagiste) nous offre une œuvre audacieuse qui ose s’approprier le délicat sujet de la sexualité féminine. La cinéaste interroge notre perception sur cette réalité dont on ne parle jamais sans poser de jugement hâtif, et laisse au spectateur le soin de faire son propre cheminement face à cette question. À n’en pas douter son film est une œuvre marquante qui ne cessera de susciter la réflexion.



Cards - Pens - Journals - Rubber Stamps Gifts - Agendas - Handmade Paper - Stationery 669 Fort Street, Victoria, BC 250 382 1669 .



INDIGENOUS PERSPECTIVE Since the beginning of time, Indigenous stories have been passed down from generation to generation. Each story carries the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years of truths about the forces of nature, the spirit world, love and community. The four feature films that are part of the Indigenous Perspective are from different places and times, but they all have something in common. They are directed by talented Indigenous women who are inspired by their ancestors or by contemporary Indigenous women who are making history today. As this year’s Indigenous Programmer, my hope is that everyone who attends the Victoria Film Festival puts one or more of these extraordinary and insightful films on their must see list. Each one will open up new worlds and perspectives on Indigenous people and history. - Barbara Todd Hager



Director: Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in), Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida)

British Columbia I 2018 I 100 min Best BC Film, Best Canadian Feature, Most Popular Canadian Awards Vancouver International Film Festival

In SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), a tragic accident at sea triggers a series of events that threatens to tear apart two extended Haida families. Based on the Haida story of Gaagiixiid the “wildman,” the film explores how forces of the supernatural and human worlds can collide under the right set of circumstances.



The film follows the story of two close friends, Adiits’ii and Kwa, whose families are together at their summer fishing camp. Just days before packing up and heading to their permanent village, Adiits’ii decides to take Kwa’s young son out on the ocean for an impromptu fishing trip. The natural ebb and flow of daily life in the fishing camp is shattered as the families deal with the aftermath of that decision. Shot in the stunning temperate rainforest of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, Edge of the Knife offers a rare glimpse into traditional Haida life. Co-directed by Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in) and Gwaii Edenshaw (Haida), this gripping drama, set in the 19th century, is told entirely in Haida dialects. Brimming with authenticity, the film is also contributing to the preservation of the Haida language, which has only 20 fluent speakers left. SGaawaay K’uuna shares some of the cinematic style of Zacharias Kunuk’s award-winning film Artanajuat: The Fast Runner. It is no coincidence that Kunuk was an executive producer and mentor on the Haida film, which was produced with support from the Council of the Haida Nation.


WITH SHORT FILM: REVIVE Cardwell Lowley, Jessica Creyke, Alyson Bell, Eryn Joseph, Emma Quock, Richelle Bishop British Columbia I 2.5 min Diversity Film Festival 2018 Winner




BC Premiere Directors: Christina King (Creek/Seminole/Sac & Fox), Elizabeth Castle

USA I 2018 I 67 min Best Feature Documentary American Indian Film Festival

The early history of the American Indian Movement (AIM) is defined by the actions of men like Dennis Banks, Clyde and Vernon Bellecourt and Russell Means. These men were prominent leaders in a civil rights movement that brought Indigenous self-determination and international recognition of treaty rights to the forefront through protests at Alcatraz and Wounded Knee.

While the men held the leadership titles and made the headlines, a powerful yet largely unnoticed group of grassroots leaders was working for change within the movement – Indigenous women. In the documentary Warrior Women, these unsung heroes finally get the recognition due to them. Since the early 1970s, Madonna Thunder Hawk has been at the forefront of Indigenous matriarchal action in America. From the early protests of AIM to the Dakota Access Pipeline demonstrations, Warrior Women chronicles her fierce dedication to social, cultural and environmental change in Indian country. While the film, directed by Christina D. King (Creek/Seminole) and Christina Castle, focuses on the history of Madonna and Marcy, it succeeds in uncovering the incredible risks that women took as they fought to improve their children’s and grandchildren’s lives and bring attention to the social and economic inequities between Native Americans and the rest of American society. Using rarely seen archival footage, verité, and interviews, Madonna and Marcy’s dedication to activism and change is brought to life. Seeing the history of the AIM through the eyes of women brings deeper meaning and relevance to the movement, perhaps more so than the contentious actions of its male leaders. WITH SHORT FILM: SOMETIMES SHE SMILES Kelly Roulette (Anishnaabe) I Ontario I 13 min An artist discovers a mysterious photo of a 19th Century Indigenous woman and when she starts to paint her portrait, strange things begin to happen.


BC Premiere


Directors: Michelle Derosier (Anishnaabe), Marie-Hélène Cousineau

Quebec I 2018 I 90 min Best Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress American Indian Film Festival

When Charlie Mott (Charlie Carrick), an enthusiastic young French Métis voyageur spots Angelique (Julia Jones), a 17-year old Anishnaabe woman, in Sault Ste. Marie in 1845, he is smitten by her natural beauty and intelligence. When he informs her grandmother, Green Thunderbird (Tantoo Cardinal) that he wants to marry Angelique, she warns him “to not let anything happen” to her.



Soon Charlie finds a job with Cyrus Mendelhall (Aden Young), an American mining prospector. Being deeply in love, Charlie insists that Angelique travel with him and the crew on the expedition. They travel to an island in Lake Superior that’s rumoured to have copper veins. In fact, Indigenous people had been mining copper in the Great Lakes area for thousands of years. When they find what seems to be a major copper deposit, Cyrus promises a bonus to Charlie if he stays behind until spring to guard the claim. He promises he’ll send provisions in two weeks that will get them through the winter. The shipment never arrives, and the newlyweds are faced with a bleak, harrowing winter without food. All but abandoning her Christian upbringing, Angelique finds strength in visions of her grandmother’s Indigenous teachings, while Charlie slips towards madness brought on by starvation. Director and screenwriter Michelle Derosier (Anishnaabe) knows the Great Lakes and northern Ontario landscape well. Isle Royale, where this true story took place, is within sight of her home in Thunder Bay. Derosier and co-director Marie-Hélène Cousineau bring out powerful, authentic performances from the entire cast in this haunting story of love, resilience and survival.


WITH SHORT FILM: ON THE WATER Steve Sxwithul’txw I BC I 12 min A group of paddlers from the Penelakut First Nations on Vancouver Island travel to Hawaii to take part in the Queen Lili’uokalani race, the world’s largest outrigger canoe race.




Director: Darlene Naponse (Anishnaabe)

Ontario I 2018 I 98 min

Two of Canada’s most accomplished Indigenous actors come together to play sisters in Darlene Naponse’s compelling contemporary drama Falls Around Her. Mary (Tantoo Cardinal) is a successful musician who returns home to reevaluate her life after decades on the road with her band and a controlling manager. As Mary reconnects with her younger sister Betty (Tina Keeper), family and community, she realizes that when you try to leave your past behind, it eventually comes back to haunt you in more ways than one. Cardinal, who is Métis, is a veteran of more than 100 feature films, including two others in this year’s festival (Angelique’s Isle, Through Black Spruce). Cardinal and Keeper have have been cast mates before in CBC’s long-running drama North of 60. They fall naturally into the roles of siblings who alternate between sparring partners and lifelong friends. The film was shot in writer/director Naponse’s Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation near Sudbury, Ontario. The community is part of Canada’s most prolific chemical extraction regions, plagued by water, soil and air pollution for decades. In the film, Mary and Betty bond over an environmental crisis in the community caused by a local mine leaking arsenic into the water supply. Naponse deftly handles the multiple layers in the film, from family feuding to environmental protests to the tumultuous career of a female musician. The moments where Mary rediscovers the beauty of the land and the nuances of life in a northern Indigenous community, are emotional and insightful.

WITH SHORT FILM: CEDAR: TREE OF LIFE Odessa Shuquaya I BC I 10 min Three Indigenous women share their knowledge of cedar, passed down from their grandmothers and mothers.




WORLD PERSPECTIVE Every year, the Victoria Film Festival scours our globalized world for the best in independent film, bringing you the strongest, freshest, quirkiest emerging voices in cinema. Put mainstream fare on mute and indulge in new thoughts, authentic characters, and riveting stories as you discover the best of world cinema! This year, we’re thrilled to bring you more international films ready for critical acclaim than ever before, such as Iceland’s Woman at War by the multitalented Benedikt Erlingsson, China’s Ash Is Purest White by famed Jia Zhangke, and the first LQBTQ film from Kenya by lauded director Wanuri Kahiu. Welcome aboard the diverse world of independent cinema!



WORLD PERSPECTIVE: UK Last year in the inaugural UK programme at Victoria Film Festival, we presented a series of films that explored post-Brexit referendum Britain on the cusp of seismic political change. A year on, and nothing is any clearer… In times of uncertainty we often seek solace with those we love, and the communities around us. This year, the selected films offer a series of ruminations on the idea of “The Family”: those we are born with, or those we choose to build. A global community of artists in East London is united by a painting in Xiaolu Guo’s Five Men and a Caravaggio, a family is reunited over the death of a brother in Evelyn, and a mother and son are shown true love by an outsider in Tell It To The Bees. Indeed, sometimes we need to look outwards for the love we need. In Funny Cow, Maxine Peake dazzles in her performance as a woman broken by her family and propelled into comedy; and in Old Boys, Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) stars as Amberson, an awkward soul in an all-boys school who finds solace in a coming-of-age romance. – Jo Duncombe, UK Programmer


BC Premiere Director: Annabel Jankel


UK I 2018 I 106 min

Tell It to the Bees is the latest film by director Annabel Jankel, based on the original ruralScotland-set story by English writer Fiona Shaw. Holliday Granger (My Cousin Rachel, Cinderella) stars as Lydia. Recently abandoned by her promiscuous husband, Lydia is left alone with her young son Charlie, played by the captivating Gregor Selkirk. But in this post-Second World War closed-minded town, the local attitudes towards a young single mother are far from forgiving.



Charlie is badly bullied at school. Driven by his social isolation, he forms a quick bond with Dr. Jean Markham (Academy Award winner Anna Paquin), who has recently returned to town and found the welcome lukewarm. Charlie is fascinated by the bee colony that Dr. Jean keeps in her yard. She explains to him that bee colonies are great places to keep secret. As Charlie’s visits to Dr. Jean become more frequent, so too do his mother’s. When a relationship between Dr. Jean and Lydia blossoms, the local community becomes increasingly suspicious and hostile. This beautifully-shot period drama offers a heart-wrenching portrait of a love against all odds. Despite crushing financial hardship for Lydia and Charlie, and the social ostracism that Dr. Jean experiences, love abounds in this film. Dr. Jean, Lydia and Charlie show a resilience that enables them all to keep on loving, even when the world around them is terrifyingly intolerant. Suspenseful, romantic and tender, Tell It to The Bees is a reminder to be brave in love.




BC Premiere Director: Adrian Shergold UK I 2017 I 102 min

On a chance visit to a smokefilled, sticky-carpeted men’s club in northern England, Funny Cow (Maxine Peake) encounters depressive comedian Lenny (Alun Armstrong), labouring through his material before a crowd of rowdy drinkers. The experience unlocks something in her, and for a moment, the smoke clears to reveal a new pathway. After his set, Lenny tells Funny Cow that “women aren’t funny” – a statement of in-your-face misogyny widely upheld in 1960s Britain. But after years of survival, our Funny Cow is not about to be silenced by a crusty old comedian. Fuelled, as always, by an unfathomable courage and belligerent rage, Funny Cow embarks on a mission to tell her story and gain the approval of strangers through laughter. Maxine Peake (Peterloo, The Theory of Everything) stars as Funny Cow, in the role of a lifetime. Ill-treatment by men is something our eponymous heroine is grimly used to, from childhood beatings to an abusive husband. Locked into an endless cycle of love and violence with her volatile husband (scriptwriter Tony Pitts, on chilling form) – the only escape for Funny Cow is her unfaltering ability to cut through life’s darkest moments with cynical laughter. Funny Cow is a film about the power of comedy and how to transform pain into comedy. So often enchanting on stage and television, Peake is both droll and heartbreaking here. There’s also an excellent supporting cast, particularly Paddy Considine playing against type as her middle-class, welleducated suitor. Funny Cow uses the raw material of tough life experiences to bring her unique style of comedy to the stage. A stand-up comedienne in an all-male world delivers comedy fuelled by tragedy, and there is profound hope in that.


BC Premiere Director: Toby MacDonald UK/Sweden I 2018 I 96 min


Toby MacDonald’s endearing debut film is a re-working of Cyrano de Bergerac’s classic story, Cyrano. In the highly elitist, macho world of an all-boys boarding school somewhere in England in the 1980s, Amberson (Alex Lawther, The Imitation Game) – who hails from a workingclass background – finds himself entirely out of context. The awkward and imaginative Amberson is really not interested in the rough-and-tumble of the school’s sporting traditions, which involve absurd displays of physical prowess and … stupidity. At the pinnacle of all this stands the fabulously good-looking and delightfully dim school hero, Winchester, a cricketing superstar.



Daily incidents of head-flushing in the school toilets and bucket-ofwater alarm clocks render poor Amberson a friendless outsider. But, one morning, on his habitual (and pointlessly enforced) trip across the school’s grounds to fill a bucket with water, Amberson stumbles across Agnes at the home of their new visiting French teacher. Agnes is fiery, intelligent and creative. And of course, her eye is eventually caught by the floppy-haired Winchester. Until now, Amberson has been of no use to anyone. But his imaginative skills quickly come to fore when he is enlisted by Winchester to help him woo Agnes. Winchester’s cricketing skills and half-baked guitar strumming won’t quite cut the mustard with a woman like Agnes. As Amberson becomes increasingly enamoured by Agnes, this beautifully crafted, scripted and performed film unravels a timeless message about selfdiscovery and independence – a theme carried by MacDonald’s quirky use of a Wes-Anderson-esque aesthetic. This charming comedy explores the pitfalls of adolescence and self-discovery, while playfully satirizing the quirks and politics of the English public school system.




North American Premiere Director: Xiaolu Guo UK/China I 2018 I 74 min Documentary

In Five Men and a Caravaggio, acclaimed London-based Chinese writer and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo delivers a deeply searching and idiosyncratic documentary, located between contemporary China and post-Brexit-referendum London. Guo’s inspiration is drawn from Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. It opens in southern China where an artisan painter undertakes a meticulous, life-size reproduction of Caravaggio’s famous painting, Saint John the Baptist in the Wilderness. In Hackney, East London, an Italian poet is given the painting for his 40th birthday. Caravaggio’s exuberant depiction of the youthful wanderer initially triggers nostalgia in the poet, but, thanks to Caravaggio’s exquisite mastery of the play between darkness and light, the poet also ponders the encroaching darkness of the world beyond the painting. Along with his friends – a writer, a philosopher and a photographer who are all immigrants living in London – the poet fears the reproduction does not capture the essence of the original. The friends discuss the painting, reflecting on identity, age and ego. With these elements, Guo delivers a rich treatise on reproduction, regeneration and the flow of capital. This intelligent film, unfolding in the summer following the Brexit referendum, is both a tribute to the intellectual migrants who have made their local London neighbourhood their home and an examination of the universally human urges to both wander and take root.


Canadian Premiere Director: Orlando von Einsiedel UK I 2018 I 100 min



Best Documentary British Independent Film Awards

Following his Oscar winning The White Helmets, documentary filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel’s latest film, Evelyn, takes the name of his brother. Along with his sister Gwennie and youngest brother Robin, Orlando hasn’t spoken about Evelyn in over 10 years.



At 22, Evelyn – who loved to skate and shoot grainy home videos on a hand-held camera – took his own life. Evelyn’s films from the family archive reveal a vibrant and immensely loveable character, but he also suffered from acute depression and schizophrenia. For years, the sadness that fell upon Evelyn’s family and closest friends was unspoken. More than a decade later, Orlando decides the silence is insufferable and embarks on a journey to explore the collective grief that shrouds Evelyn’s memory. Together with his siblings and his now-separated parents, Orlando begins a hiking tour, visiting the stunning landscapes of the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands that Evelyn liked to walk, to bring him back into focus in life and in death. Through the discussions that unfold, Evelyn appears to us with increasing presence. No longer is he the distant teenager on the grainy VHS recording. He’s someone who mischievously whispered in your ear; a brother who didn’t speak German quite as well as his sister; a son who made his parents proud; a friend who made his peers laugh. Von Einsiedel is a filmmaker whose career has spanned conflict zones across the world, but until now, he has always looked to others to share their stories. Here, we witness a brother undergo a journey of profound personal bravery, seeking to transcend the limitations that modern life, and masculinity, impose on the grieving process. Laughter and tenderness are at the heart of a film that explores grief and collective healing with humour and warmth.




HAPPY NEW YEAR, COLIN BURSTEAD Western Canadian Premiere Director: Ben Wheatley UK I 2018 I 95 min

Meet Colin, a stressed-out middle-aged bloke, played by the brilliant Neil Maskell (The Football Factory, Kill List). It’s nearly time to celebrate the New Year, and for complex, unexplained reasons, Colin has rented an outrageously large stately home for all his family to “enjoy.” When Colin’s parents, played by the hilarious Bill Paterson and Doon Mackichan, arrive, Colin is very much the centre of attention – despite the fact that his father is reeling from a doomed business venture (which he practically begs Colin to rescue), and his mother suffers a (semiintentional?) fall on the doorstep when she arrives, resigning her to a wheelchair for the entire occasion. Scene by scene, the film simmers with a pregnant, crackling atmosphere, as more and more family members reluctantly arrive at “Burstead Manor.” Colin continuously asserts the importance of “the family,” and yet he seems profoundly uncomfortable in the presence of his own. Working with his long-time writing partner Amy Jump, director Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Free Fire) is in his element here, leading an excellent ensemble cast through a boozy, anxiety-fuelled reunion. Hayley Squires is charming as Colin’s well-meaning sister; Charles Dance brings warmth as cross-dressing Uncle Bertie; and Asim Chaudry is painfully funny as the uninvited family friend suffering a quarter-life crisis. The film, which was shot in under two weeks, has all the twisted lure and dark humour of an early Mike Leigh film; there are strong echoes of Life is Sweet, and of Thomas Vinterberg’s Festen. Anyone who’s spent long uncomfortable hours with estranged family members over the holidays will instantly connect with the squirmish humour of Happy New Year, Colin Burstead.


Director: Matteo Garrone Italy I 2018 I 120 min


Best Actor & Palme d’Or Cannes Film Festival Best International Film Jerusalem Film Festival A recent favourite at Cannes and Italy’s foreign-language Oscar submission, Matteo Garrone’s Dogman is a highly atmospheric, emotionally charged moral tale.



Marcello (the outstanding Marcello Fonte) makes his humble living as a dog groomer in a small Italian seaside town. Loved and respected by everyone, Marcello is extremely caring for his four-legged clientele, to the point of sharing pasta with his dog. He lives a quiet and simple life divided between his shop and daydreaming about an exotic trip with his beloved daughter that he can’t afford . The storm on the quiet waters of Marcello’s existence is stirred by Simone, a bulky bully involved in most of the local criminal incidents. While everyone in town wants Simone gone, Marcello’s gentle and submissive nature lets him offset Simone’s outsized personality – but in return, the blustering hulk pressures Marcello to procure him drugs and abet his petty crimes. One night, their relationship and Marcello’s life are forever changed after a felony gone wrong. Superb performances by Marcello Fonte (who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes) as a helpless but charming dog groomer, and Edoardo Pesce as crazed Simone turn Dogman into an intense viewing experience, one that will have audiences gripping their armrests. But the violence entwines with softness in this powerful yet subtle masterpiece as Matteo Garrone stakes his claim as one of modern Italy’s most distinctive voices.





Canadian Premiere Director: Andrea Magnani Italy/Ukraine I 2017 I 91 min

Dark comedy meets road movie in this uplifting directorial debut from Andrea Magnani. As a teenager, Isidoro – aka Easy – was the golden boy of car racing. Unfortunately, his momentum on the tracks slowed as he piled on weight to the point that he could no longer fit into his car. Today he is in his 40s, depressed and living with his mother in his former childhood room. One day his brother, successful construction entrepreneur Filo, offers him an unusual gig: drive a coffin with the body of a Ukrainian construction worker from Italy to Ukraine. The journey to an unknown land turns out to be much more complicated than expected, especially when Easy gets lost the second he crosses the Ukrainian border. With its quirky humour and peculiar protagonist, Easy is a collection of absurd misadventures and wrong turns that succeeds in keeping the audience guessing if Easy will reach his destination and in what state. But beyond its veil of humour, Easy doubles as a reflection of the discussion on one of the modern world’s most common diseases: depression. It tells the old truth that sometimes new experiences, a change of path and rhythm of life are a more effective treatment than mountains of pills. With this simple and straightforward message, Easy is a breath of fresh air and a truly brilliant comedy, the kind you don’t see often. Intelligent, raw, and unique, it is a pure cinematic delight from the starting gate to finish line.




BC Premiere Director: Andreas Goldstein Germany I 2018 I 100 min Adam and Evelyn, by writer-director Andreas Goldstein, tells the story of a couple from East Germany and their reactions to events during the summer of 1989. However, this is not yet another film about the final days of the German Democratic Republic and the fall of the wall. It is based on the novel by Ingo Schulze, who had already made a name for himself with his Simple Stories, a collection of short stories about the East German town of Altenburg.



Adam and Evelyn are from a small town in the GDR. They are a couple but separate briefly after she sees him cheating on her. They meet again in Hungary at the time when various borders were slowly opening up. Suddenly they have options they never had before, and must decide where they want to go. Evelyn would like to go to the West, Adam is not sure if he wants to give up his pleasant life in the East where he works as a successful tailor. Adam and Evelyn shows us the end of the Cold War from a personal perspective we rarely see. The story unfolds in a leisurely pace to create the atmosphere of what it might have been like during those hot summer days that would change the world. Neither sensationalist nor another version of East Germans finally allowed to go West, the film succeeds on a personal level, with its insights about the big decisions we sometimes have to make.   Adam and Evelyn played at the Viennale, the Zurich Film Festival, and the Venice International Film Critics’ Week.




MIDNIGHT RUNNER DER LĂ„UFER Canadian Premiere Director: Hannes Baumgartner Switzerland I 2018 I 92 min

How does one become a murderer?

Best Film Zurich International Film Festival

Hannes Baumgartner’s Midnight Runner is a compelling study about the origin of violence, surfacing the clash between everyday life and past traumas. As with his debut film, this work offers a window into the life of Jonas Widmer, one of the most promising longdistance runners in Switzerland with ambition to run the marathon in the Olympics. In childhood, Jonas and his older brother Philipp were victims of extreme parental negligence. By age four, Jonas still had not learned to walk and his six-year-old brother had yet to learn to speak. Despite this difficult past, Jonas seems to have overcome odds to bring order and purpose to his life. Besides running, he works as a junior chef at a renowned restaurant, regularly visits his adoptive mother, and is planning a future with his girlfriend Simone. If only he could shake the violent, shivery nightmares. Most of them are related to his brother, who committed suicide two years prior. Unable to quiet the inner turmoil or repress his feelings, the sensitive young man finds an unthinkable outlet for his frustrations. At the heart of Midnight Runner, we find a smart and complex story anchored by the rising young leading star Max Hubacher. Hubacher shines with the help of the director Hannes Baumgartner, who avoids banal rationalizations and avoids overly psychoanalyzing its protagonist, trying not to pinpoint the exact explanation for his behaviour. Inspired by a true Swiss crime, Midnight Runner is a briskly-paced thriller that rarely stops to breathe through its captivating twists and enigmatic finale.



Canadian Premiere Director: Christian Frei Switzerland I 2018 I 113 min


Documentary Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize On the remote New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, hunters are searching for the tusks of extinct mammoths. The price of ivory has never been higher – a single piece may well be worth tens of thousands of dollars. But what the hunters discover is more than they have bargained for. Preserved for millenniums by permafrost, the thawing landscape (hello, global warming) reveals a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth carcass, liquid blood and muscle-tissue included. This astounding discovery is irresistible to geneticists from around the world who flock to resurrect the woolly mammoth Jurassic Park-style. A project that may soon turn our world upside down.



A globe-spanning tour-de-force, Genesis 2.0 is an expertly constructed documentary from the Academy Award-nominated Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei. It is a mesmerizing and disturbing rumination of what drives us as species. In stunning images, the film reveals how our mania of constant improvement defines our relationship to the earth, and how we can’t stop trying to play God. And the woolly mammoth tusk is just the tip of the iceberg in this haunting excavation. Genesis 2.0 is a film of discovery, wrestling with issues old and new in both abstract concepts of spirituality and morality, but also science and mundane reality, all dissected in a series of powerful set pieces. And hovering in the background is the majestic shadow of a woolly mammoth. A thrilling and chilling must-see.





Director: Markus Imhoof Switzerland/Germany I 2018 I 92 min Documentary Amnesty International Film Prize Berlin Film Festival

Eldorado is an emotional, deeply moving documentary and a very personal memory of migrants and refugees. Markus Imhoof shares his childhood memories from the end of the Second World War, when his family took in a young girl from Italy, a refugee by the name of Giovanna, as part of a temporary Swiss aid program. Giovanna was eight and Imhoof was four when his family helped her recover before she was sent back to Italy, where she would eventually die at the age of 13. Imhoof connects his childhood story with the stories of present-day migrants who came to Italy and Switzerland via the Mediterranean Sea. How were refugees and migrants treated at the end of the Second World War? How are they treated now? On Imhoof’s website, the film is described as “a stark picture of an absurd and inhuman process that fails to address a human tragedy.” Eldorado shows exactly that, and it does it so well that Screen International called it “one of the most moving statements to have been made thus far on the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean.” The Guardian called it a “powerful look at the brutal lives of Europe’s refugees.” Eldorado is another major movie by Markus Imhoof, whose The Boat is Full received an Oscar nomination in 1982. Eldorado is Switzerland’s official submission for the 2019 Academy Awards Foreign Language Film competition and it already received a Special Mention at the 2018 Berlinale. This is a very powerful film that will stay with you for a long time.


BC Premiere Director: Marta Prus Poland I 2018 I 74 min


Documentary Best Feature-Length Documentary Audience Award Krakow Film Festival Best Documentary Luxembourg Film Festival

Over the Limit, an outstanding documentary from emerging Polish director Marta Prus, immerses the viewer immediately in another world – the alluring and merciless Russian system for training rhythmic gymnasts.



Gorgeous and graceful, the Russian rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun glides across the floor streaming red ribbon around her limber body. But behind agile jumps and smooth hoop-twirling hides enormous pressure. The 20-year-old gymnast, whose retirement is quickly approaching, has a final chance of winning an Olympic gold medal representing Team Russia. A chance that will never repeat itself. Training rigorously under the analytical eyes of her merciless coaches, she is reminded over and over again: “You’re not a human being, you’re an athlete.” Taming sweat and tears, she gracefully catches rings and rolls a ball across her shoulders. Her knee is injured, her father just found out he has incurable cancer – yet her coaches will accept no excuse for a bad performance. The beauty and power of Prus’ film come from her determined refusal to exploit Mamun’s inescapably fraught situation for melodramatic effect. Yet this Black Swan of sports documentaries will have you on the edge of your seat yelling at the screen and cheering on Margarita at her lowest moments. But don’t be fooled by Margarita’s dainty looks, she will surprise you and so will the ending. Athlete or not, you don’t want to miss this documentary.





BC Premiere Director: Atilla Szász Hungary I 2018 I 110 min Best Director Montréal World Film Festival

After packing her bags, Irén lies to her young daughter, telling her she’ll be back soon. As Adolf Hitler’s German armies and the Soviet Union wage war on the battlefronts of the Second World War, Irén (Marina Gera), like most adult women living in her rural town in Hungary, finds herself corralled and deported to Siberia by guntoting Soviet soldiers. Based on true events, the film follows the Swabian (German-speaking minority living in Hungary), one of approximately 700,000 Hungarian men and women forced into bleak labour camps during and after the war. More than 250,000 never made it home.

Abused, malnourished and desperately missing her family, Irén shovels coal under dangerous and inhumane conditions, waiting for the war to end. Any attempts at escape are met with gunfire, and shovelling too slow met with an empty stomach. More than 1,000 kilometres from home and enveloped by the biting Siberian winter, there is nowhere to run. Every moment is a battle to stay alive long enough to one day return to her family. Lead by Marina Gera’s profound depiction of a woman holding on to a grain of hope despite being stripped of everything she has, Eternal Winter’s brutally honest performances are equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. Up-and-coming Hungarian director Atilla Szász’s craftsmanship of the quietly gripping Norbert Köbli script is a revelation, perfectly pacing the moving journey of a woman desperate to reclaim the only thing that matters.


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Director: Olivier Assayas France I 2018 I 98 min

More than any filmmaker of his generation, Olivier Assayas (past VFF screenings include Personal Shopper and Clouds of Sils Maria) has crafted a body of work that holds a mirror to contemporary France in all its complexity. In Non-Fiction, a highly intelligent, fast-paced comedy of manners, Assayas takes a droll look at a group of middle-aged and middle-class French and examines how hyper-connectivity is affecting their lives. Alain, a successful and suave book publisher, kicks things off grousing about Twitter in a Parisian restaurant with his longtime client Léonard, a rumpled writer who struggles to write about anything but his own sordid affairs. The manuscript that he is unsuccessfully trying to pitch to Alain is inconveniently based on one of his latest intimate liaisons – with Alain’s own wife Selena, a recognizable TV actress who is more comfortable with the march of time. Alain skeptically decides to try to bring his company into the digital age and hires Laure, a young and hip digital media specialist, who he ends up … having an affair with. Oh, French cinema! With all your affairs, love triangles (in this case quadruples?), philosophical yet witty debates, here you are at your very best. And if that doesn’t convince you enough, any film with Juliette Binoche is not to be missed. Just saying. DOUBLES VIES Plus que tous les cinéastes de sa génération, Olivier Assayas (les précédents projections de VFF incluent Personal Shopper et Clouds of Sils Maria), a créé une œuvre qui reflète la France contemporaine dans toute sa complexité. Dans Doubles Vies, une comédie très intelligente et rapide, Assayas dépeint avec humour, un groupe de quinquagénaire français de la classe moyenne, et examine les effets de l’hyper connectivité dans leur vie. Alain,un charmant éditeur de livres à succès, commence à parler de Twitter dans un restaurant parisien avec son client de longue date, Léonard, un écrivain ridé qui a du mal à écrire sur d’autre sujets que ses affaires sordides. Le manuscrit qu’il essaie vainement de présenter à Alain est basé sur une de ses dernières liaisons intimes, avec la femme d’Alain, Selena, une actrice de télévision connue qui évolue avec son temps. Alain décide avec scepticisme d’essayer de faire entrer son entreprise dans l’ère numérique et recrute Laure, spécialiste des médias numériques jeune et branchée, avec qui il finit par avoir une liaison. Oh, cinéma français! Avec tes histoires, tes triangles amoureux (dans ce cas peutêtre même carré?), et tes débats philosophiques drôles et rempli d’esprit, te voilà à ton apogée. Et si tout cela ne vous suffit pas, sachez qu’aucun film avec Juliette Binoche n’est à manquer. Juste pour dire.





BC Premiere Director: Pierre Salvadori France I 2018 I 108 min Directors’ Fortnight

In a town on the French Riviera, Yvonne, a police officer on desk duty, is busy picking up the pieces after the death of her husband, Santi. A local legend, he is idolized by Yvonne in action-packed goodnight stories that she tells her son. But the flawless version of her husband is suddenly shattered when she learns a horrifying truth. Santi was not exactly a model of virtue – in fact, he was a crooked cop. Things get even worse when Yvonne learns that her husband’s unlawful actions put an innocent young man in prison for eight years. When Antoine, Santi’s scapegoat, is finally released, Yvonne tries to undo her husband’s wrongdoing by helping the charming man get his life back. Anxious about a confrontation, she begins to secretly follow him, which leads to a spectacular sequence of wild, preposterous mishaps. Yvonne soon learns that Antoine is having trouble adjusting to life on the other side, to say the least.

Cannes Film Festival



Bursting with colourful farcical scenes and teaming with charming performances, including Audrey Tautou as Antoine’s loyal girlfriend, The Trouble with You is a comedy and romance unlike no other. Director Pierre Salvadori, a frontrunner of French comedy, delivers good cheer with a dynamic storyline and some endearingly flawed characters. This polished crowd-pleaser will make you laugh all the way down the aisle. EN LIBERTÉ! Dans une ville de la Côte d’Azur, Yvonne, une policière affectée aux tâches administratives, occupée à recoller les morceaux après la mort de son mari, Santi. Une légende locale, idolâtré par Yvonne dans des histoires remplies d’action qu’elle raconte à son fils. Mais la version parfaite de son mari est soudainement brisée lorsqu’elle découvre une vérité horrifiante. Santi n’était pas exactement un modèle de vertu - en fait, c’était un policier malhonnête. La situation empire lorsque Yvonne apprend que les agissements illégaux de son mari ont mis un jeune homme innocent en prison pendant huit ans. Quand Antoine, le bouc émissaire de Santi, est enfin relâché, Yvonne tente de réparer les torts de son mari en aidant le charmant homme à démarrer une nouvelle vie. Inquiète d’une confrontation, elle le suit secrètement, ce qui conduit à une séquence spectaculaire d’incidents incontrôlés et insensés Yvonne apprend très vite qu’Antoine a du mal à s’adapter à sa nouvelle vie, c’est le moins que l’on puisse dire. Les scènes haut en couleurs et les performances flamboyant! dont celle d’Audrey Tautou, la petite-amie d’Antoine, font En Liberté une comédie romantique unique en son genre. Le réalisateur Pierre Salvadori, l’un des pionniers de la comédie française, se fait plaisir avec un scénario dynamique et des personnages aux défauts attachants. Ce film raffiné saura plaire à tous et vous fera rire jusqu’au bout.





NAGYI PROJEKT BC Premiere Director: Bálint Révész

Hungary/UK I 2018 I 93 min Documentary

We all love our grannies. But how much do we actually know about them? What if we found out that our grandma used to be a spy, or had a crush on Hitler, or wanted to murder someone?

New Generation Award Taiwan International Documentary Film Festival

Bálint Révész, in his directorial debut, invites his two charming yet boisterous 20-something friends to embark on a journey to investigate their grannies’ pasts to find out exactly what the frail old ladies had been doing during the Second World War. In this far-reaching yet playful film, we meet three extraordinary women. There’s the British spy with a bone-dry sense of humour, the Hungarian communist who survived the Holocaust, and the German dancer whose look back turns out to be the most difficult. We watch them sharing their most vulnerable stories, answering their beloved grandsons’ questions, even when they are borderline ludicrous (both the questions AND grandsons). But sometimes it is only the grandchildren who can ask the questions no one else dares to. Granny Project brilliantly tackles vital issues that affect us all. What starts out as a jaunty experiment becomes a perceptive look at how the past defines us and what is passed on to another generation. Grannie Project is honest, frisky and full of love, exploring people seldom found together on the big screen. It will take the audience on an emotional journey through laughter and sadness, to discovery.




BC Premiere Director: Santiago Mitre Argentina/Spain/France 2017 I 114 min Set in a ski resort in the Chilean Andes, The Summit is a blend of political thriller and psychological drama. Latin American presidents have gathered for a summit that pits their competing interests and geopolitical alliances against each other. The plot centers around  Argentine president Hernán Blanco (Ricardo Darín), who manoeuvres among his peers to get his way while concealing a back-door deal with the Americans. Things take an unexpected turn when Blanco’s daughter, agitated to the point of breakdown, shows up at the summit and threatens to expose a dark secret. The suspenseful plot skillfully weaves high-stakes political affairs and personal matters, leaving the spectator to guess the outcome of Blanco’s measured calculations.   Santiago Mitre’s fourth feature film brings together some of the most important actors and actresses from Latin America, from Argentinians Ricardo Darín, Dolores Fonzi and Érica Rivas, to Mexican Daniel Giménez Cacho and Chilean Alfredo Castro. The Summit was selected in 2017 to the prestigious Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes.







Director: Emilio Belmonte France/Spain I 2017 I 85 min Documentary

True to its title, Impulso is an energetic film that follows the rehearsals, performances and private moments of young flamenco dancer Rocío Molina. The documentary, by Emilio Belmonte, follows her preparations for a show at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris. It showcases the new horizons modern flamenco dancers such as Molina explore in passionate and talented ways. Her art is a spellbinding  showcase of neo-flamenco music, incorporating innovative steps and costumes, and even elements of body art. A particularly moving moment is Molina’s encounter with  La Chana, her mentor and legendary flamenco dancer and herself the subject of a recent award-winning documentary directed by Lucija Stojevic. La Chana movingly shares her thoughts and feelings about her pupil, and they even perform together in a memorable show. Impulso will appeal to flamenco and dance lovers, as well as to all those who appreciate art as the prime space of deep, emotional release. 




BC Premiere Director: Rodrigo Bernardo Brazil I 2018 I 101 min What happens when someone breaks up with you, but you don’t even know who they are? Virgílio (Mateus Solano) receives just such a message when a woman named Clara (Thaila Ayala) breaks up with him on his answering machine – despite the bachelor never having met her.



Is this a joke? A prank? If so, all his friends and family are in on it, calling and offering condolences on a recent breakup they seem to know more about than he does. Confused and curious, Virgílio is compelled to find out who the mysterious woman is, how she knows him, and why she called and left that message. A charming and playful romantic comedy, Maybe a Love Story features a vibrant young cast of extremely likeable and fun characters, neatly juggled by first-time feature director Rodrigo Bernardo. Will the successful and charming bachelor find Clara? Does Clara even exist? What will she want even if he finds her? Will Virgílio, a man who needs structure in his life and fears change and commitment, journey to the other side of his own anxiety to find his truth, and perhaps his love along the way? Equal parts funny and touching, Virgílio’s journey slowly unravels the mystery surrounding his baffling dilemma one quirky predicament at a time.




BC Premiere Director: Nicole N. Horanyi Denmark I 2017 I 104 min Documentary Grand Jury Prize DOC NYC

Amanda comes across Casper online. He’s funny, considerate, heir to a fortune and they seemingly have an immediate connection. Casper comes from wealth, but has a strained relationship with his family. Alongside that, he is father to a young daughter, who due to a divorce, he cannot visit. Soon enough Amanda invites him to move in with her and her daughter. While things initially start strong, they begin to take some incredibly shocking twists. It turns out Casper is not even remotely who he says he is. Bit by bit after months of dating, the truth starts to reveal itself. Amanda begins to look into who this stranger is and finds an unsettling web of lies that go way beyond the events that transpired between the two of them. In a unique approach to documentary recreation and one that is never boring, Amanda relives her story with an actor cast as Casper playing out their relationship. They explore the oddities and warning signs and provide insight into who this man claiming to be Casper truly was. For Amanda, in part, this serves as a form of therapeutic reckoning, while giving the viewer a jarring glimpse into how one can be so vulnerably deceived.



BC Premiere Director: Marcus Lindeen Denmark I 2018 I 97 min


Documentary Best Documentary Chicago International Film Festival

In the early 1970’s, anthropologist Santiago Genovés plotted one of the most unique, bold, and bizarre experiments in history. His plan was to take a group of strangers from all over the world, set them on a small raft, and float them out to sea in order to witness group dynamics and the possibilities of violent and sexual tendencies. Five men and six women were chosen, all from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.



In the summer of 1973, the group set sail for 101 days in close quarters across the Atlantic on the raft that came to be known as the Acali. Fairly soon, the social experiment started to take unexpected turns Genovés did not account for. The media jumped on this story, hoping to get attention by dubbing this as “The Sex Raft.” In reality, on the bumpy shores of the Atlantic, discussions of mutiny quickly began to surface. Decades later, a few of the surviving members reunite on a makeshift replica of the Acali to discuss their unique experiences, their frustrations, and their bonds. Blending in some incredible archival footage with fascinating testimonials, The Raft gives an insight into one of the most surreal experiments ever to take place.





BC Premiere Director: Joe Penna

Iceland I 2018 I 97 min

A lone pilot named Overgård has crashed into an Icelandic wasteland of snow and ice. Trapped between driving snows and freezing temperatures, death might be inevitable except that Overgård is no ordinary man. In the husk of his former plane, he has built a shelter against the torment of outside. And through a hole in the ice, he pulls out a small trickle of bony fish to eat. He even has a SOS carved skyward to alert his eventual saviours. It seems that all he needs to do is wait. However, on the fateful day rescue does come, things start to go very wrong very quickly. For Overgård, staying still is suddenly no longer an option. The bare brutality of survivalism always makes a great adventure yarn, but Arctic’s got an extra one-two punch that makes it just that much better. First up is the acting strength of Mads Mikkelson who brings every frame of this almost wordless film to life. Longtime VFF fans will remember him well from Coco Channel & Igor Stravinsky as well as the Oscar️-nominated The Hunt. Both his Danish subtlety and rugged good looks play perfectly here, making for a complex character who doesn’t need a lot of explanation. But the second hit here is first-time feature writer-director Joe Penna. His simple and direct storytelling easily turns the bleak landscapes into something truly grand and frightening. He’s been a YouTube star for well over a decade now, and that commitment to craft shows. This is a breakout feature film for a director who clearly has even more to offer.




BC Premiere Director: Michael Noer Denmark I 2018 I 104 min Best Actor Tokyo Film Festival Chicago Film Festival

The fifth feature film from award-winning Danish filmmaker Michael Noer is a captivating period piece that follows a struggling farmer in 19th-century Denmark who must go against his morals and make a deal with a wealthy neighbour in order to secure his family’s survival over a harsh winter.



Noer’s film is anchored by a weighty performance from veteran Danish actor Jesper Christensen (Casino Royale, Melancholia) in the role of the patriarch Jens. The widowed and aging farmer with three children to provide for has been fighting to survive on a harsh, unyielding piece of land. When a pair of wealthy Swedes propose to buy part of his farm, he stubbornly refuses, hoping instead to partner with a neighbor who wants to marry his daughter, Signe. However, Jens is soon met with an offer can’t refuse and is forced to make a decision that could affect his family for generations to come. With dogged cinematography and camera movement from Sturla Brandth Grovlen, Before the Frost offers a window into Denmark’s dark patriarchal past through moving performances from newcomer, Clara Rosager. Christensen, having worked with a stunning and diverse range of filmmakers, from Lone Scherfig to Lars von Trier to Jean-Marc Vallée, also played Mr. White in the latest Bond film. Don’t miss an opportunity to see this remarkable character in a memorable role.






BC Premiere Director: Paprika Steen Denmark I 2018 I 101 min

Paprika Steen’s breakout role as an actress was in Thomas Vinterberg’s Danish classic The Celebration, Dogme’s definitive word on family dysfunction. Twenty years later, her third film as a director returns to the rich terrain of errant parents and quarrelsome siblings, though to very different ends. That Time of Year is a Christmas comedy that involves the quintessential holiday paradox: families coming together to celebrate, when they spend the rest of the year avoiding each other. As the holiday looms, Katrine (played by Steen) is overwhelmed with requests – or threatening demands disguised as requests. She and her husband will be hosting his parents, her divorced parents, and her pompous sister, Barbara, a wannabe priest. Katrine’s plans are upended when she gets a call from her estranged sister, Patricia, the once-troubled daughter everyone but Katrine has written off. Her presence unleashes the high-strung Katrine’s inner martyr and prompts everyone else to abandon what little decorum they have left. Steen’s increasingly hysterical setup is founded on authentic character dynamics, particularly the buttons that only families can push. A witty script, fun performances and plenty of recognizable “bah humbug” delivers a muchneeded holiday cheer. That Time of Year is a deeply relatable comedy that finds humour in family’s ability to bring out the worst in each other, while finding moments for tenderness and loyalty too.





BC Premiere Director: Milad Alami Denmark I 2017 I 100 min Best Film Warsaw Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Palm Springs Film Festival

Nearly every night, Esmail, a handsome young man, dons the same suit and heads to the same upscale wine bar in Denmark, looking to meet and romance lonely women. But Esmail isn’t your typical pickup artist. The Charmer follows an Iranian immigrant living in Denmark and his increasingly desperate attempts to secure citizenship by seducing a string of Danish women, or soon face deportation. Writer-director Milad Alami’s debut feature is a blistering and topical examination of the immigrant experience, using the lens of a psychological thriller and erotic drama.



In Denmark, Esmail’s choices are his. He opts to do his gallivanting amongst the upper class. This is strategic and preferential. Esmail might not be a tourist, but he is on a vacation of sorts, pursuing lifestyles nicer than what he might have left back home. As the clock ticks and pressure mounts, an alluring young woman enters Esmail’s life, threatening to upend his carefully calibrated existence. The Charmer offers an intense, probing portrait of a man struggling to secure a better life, even if it means hurting others and losing himself in the process. Let’s be clear, Esmail is not a deviant nor a sex tourist, he’s an immigrant. To stay in Denmark, he needs one of these connections to turn into a relationship with a woman willing to say that he’s hers, or he’ll be forced to leave the “better life” he’s accustomed to.






Director: Benedikt Erlingsson Iceland I 2018 I 100 min Best Feature Hamburg Film Festival Best Actress Montréal Festival of New Cinema

Benedikt Erlingsson’s whimsical and gorgeous second feature drills deep into the inevitable dilemmas plaguing almost everyone committed to the greater good, with a sense of delightful charm that made Woman at War an international hit following its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

Like a grassroots, modern-day Robin Hood, Halla is a devoted undercover eco-terrorist determined to preserve Iceland’s natural landscapes from big industry. She leads a choir, keeps healthy with tai chi, and lives alone in a cosy apartment decorated with posters of Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. But when a long-desired child becomes available for adoption, she must choose between the greater good of her country and her own dreams. Played magnificently by Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir (in a dual role) and dubbed the Mountain Woman, Halla soon becomes a thorn to the aluminum industry. Appropriately, given Halla’s occupation, music plays a central role in the film, but it is not just the score that stands out. In a daring yet satisfying move, Erlingsson places a Ukrainian vocal trio and a three-piece band consisting of accordion, drums and sousaphone to interact with Halla, although she is unaware of their presence. It’s a risky device that pays off and allows Woman at War to exist as a rarity: a crowd-pleasing, feel-good film for an audience craving intelligent content.



Director: Max Powers USA I 2018 I 95 min



Best Documentary Atlanta DocuFest

Don’t be nice; be essential.



This is the daunting task at hand for the five members of the Bowery Slam Poetry team as they prepare for the national championship. The film follows these young poets, all from different backgrounds, as they dive deep into their most vulnerable inner truths to create affecting pieces of work worthy of the national stage. Behind them are a team of demanding coaches who also must wrestle with the state of a competition that tends to favour flashy style over deep, personal substance. It is a fascinating investigation into how slam poetry has evolved from a way to make poetry fun again, to a subculture drowning in the politics of what a poem should be and how we should express ourselves. The coaches must decide how to balance clever choreographed works that are always popular against the intense soul-searching that may not always land with a random audience. Don’t Be Nice is thrilling in its construction but at its core contains heart-aching truths performed by these young men and women. Viewers may be surprised to learn that the behind-the-scenes drama of a poetry championship is just as electric as you would expect to find in any sports tournament. This narrative is injected with beautiful and unforgettable poetry that provides insightful and emotional takes on race, identity, and sexuality in the modern age.




Director: Elan Bogarin & Jonathan Bogarin USA I 2018 I 94 min Documentary Emerging International Filmmaker Award Hot Docs

Do the things we own leave a lasting legacy of our lives or are they just things? Directors Elan and Jonathan Bogarin look to explore how our possessions become imbued with our spirit and take on a new life outside our control. Their beloved grandmother, Annette Ontell, lived at 306 Hollywood for over 60 years. It was a temple within their family, bursting with relics from the different eras of her life. When she dies in 2011, Elan and Jonathan are able to convince their mother to keep the house for one year. Turning it into an archaeological excavation, they studiously analyze and sort everything in her overflowing home, obtaining an even better understanding of the woman they admired so deeply. As they explore every inch of the house, they are able to reconnect with their grandmother one final time through her possessions before saying a final goodbye. The insular nature of most family documentaries causes them to fall flat, making 306 Hollywood even more of a revelation. Clearly inspired by Wes Anderson, the Bogarin siblings take a magical-realist approach to documentary filmmaking with striking uses of colour, touches of surrealism, and breathtaking interludes into song and dance. 306 Hollywood is a thoughtful meditation on time and death, and reminds us that by changing our perspective, a whole new world of possibility and understanding opens up.



Director: Nina Paley USA I 2018 I 78 min


Award-winning director of Sita Sings the Blues, Nina Paley now takes on a feminist retelling of the story of Passover Seder with her signature irreverent sense of humour. This take on the Book of Exodus, full of dancing Egyptians, a singing Moses, and not-too-subtle phallic imagery is a scathing look at the male-dominated nature of Passover and an attempt to find the lost female perspective.



Seder-Masochism features boisterous and unforgettable musical numbers with artists ranging from The Beatles to Louis Armstrong to Led Zeppelin. Biblical in scope and content, these musical interludes cover such topics as industrial circumcision, the plagues, and The Exodus with over-the-top hilarity and thoughtful criticism of the rise of patriarchal religious systems and the destruction of the mother goddess tradition. The film is framed around a conversation Paley had with her father. In a way only this filmmaker could, she inserts herself into the film in the form of a sacrificial goat, while her father is portrayed as God. Using this poignant and comical imagery, she takes us through her family’s complicated history with religion as her father attempts (and constantly fails) to explain Passover to her. Seder-Masochism is an animated feature film beyond classification. Wild and unforgettable, Paley has created a small independent feature that is massive in scope. You are guaranteed to have never seen anything like this before!




Director: Madeleine Olnek USA I 2018 I 84 min

What if Emily Dickinson wasn’t, as we’ve been led to believe, a spinster who sat alone writing letters to her few friends? Writer/director Madeleine Olnek reimagines Dickinson’s later years as a sexually vibrant woman who kept a secret love affair with her best friend and sister-in-law Susan. By using their over 300 letters of correspondence, Olnek playfully highlights the passionate nature of their relationship that bubbles, oh so obviously, right under the surface. Emily’s poems ground the film throughout, calling attention to their loving romance from cautious teenagers to wildly inappropriate neighbours. Her words highten the beauty of their relationship, but also carry sadness at the restraint she had to use in expressing her emotions. It is a tender film that is well balanced by the mischievous joy put on display by the entire cast. Led by comedy treasure Molly Shannon, we are treated to a sensational series of comedic moments reminiscent of the great screwball comedies of the past. From oblivious Austin (Kevin Seal), conniving Mabel (Amy Seimetz), and torn Susan (Susan Ziegler), the whole cast’s perfect timing flows harmoniously with Olnek’s camera. A sharp and unforgettable feminist comedy that will appeal to all even if you aren’t familiar with Dickinson’s work. Whether or not Olnek’s version of events is accurate doesn’t overshadow the warm emotion on screen. Seamlessly blending heartfelt romance with quickwitted humour, Wild Nights With Emily is more than just an entertaining period romp, but a poignant look at how we can lose authorship over our own lives.


BC Premiere Director: Oded Binnun & Mihal Brezis USA I 2018 I 103 min


Best Film MontrĂŠal World Film Festival Hot-tempered, Scotchswigging Rory MacNeil, played by the wonderful Brian Cox, is faced with an uncertain future after a bout of bad health. Bad enough to forego his regular remedy at the local pub and to leave his beloved coast in the Scottish Hebrides for San Francisco to get the proper treatment.



He stays with his estranged son under the guise of a welloverdue visit. Playing the role of the doting grandfather conceals his true purpose: to hopefully live just long enough to see his most hated rival at home bite the dust before he does. The idea of celebrating that event seems to be the only thing keeping Rory going. As Rory begins to care for his new grandson, he slowly finds new joy in being part of a family again. As old grudges are brought to light and he begins to understand what it is his son does, Rory begins to step into a life he had avoided for a long time. As this stubborn old Scotsman softens, he becomes less accepting of a terminal diagnosis and opens up to the alternative life he now wishes to spend the rest of his time in. There is plenty of charm in The Etruscan Smile just in the clever dialogue and beautiful Scottish cinematography, but it works best as a reminder of the different lives always available to us no matter our age or condition.




BC Premiere Director: Cynthia Lowen USA I 2018 I 96 min Documentary

The idea that we were all raised to ignore verbal abuse seems insane today. Sticks and stones, right? This mindset teaches victims to swallow verbal abuse and lets the bullies believe they aren’t causing serious harm. This obvious falsehood has run rampant in our society – and with the Internet, verbal bullying has evolved out of the playground and into our everyday lives. In the era of the #MeToo Movement, Netizens is a timely and essential look at how online harassment has forever changed the lives of women. Tina Reine had her successful career derailed when a scorned ex-boyfriend created websites that successfully tarnished her reputation. Nobody could legally take these websites down. Anita Sarkeesian critiques the representation of women in video games which comes with constant threats of rape and death. Carrie Goldberg is a New York City lawyer, who after her own experience with cyberbullying, launches a law firm that specializes in privacy and sexual assault. These women now share their shocking stories and experiences in the hopes of letting people know the damage words can do, and how we as a society need to change our perspective on them. In telling these women’s stories, director Cynthia Lowen educates the viewer on how online bullying has crept its way into our culture and how damaging it can be. Netizens isn’t a film looking for justice, but rather to start a dialogue about cyberbullying and its scarring impact on our society.



Director: Robert Budreau USA I 2018 I 92 min


Ethan Hawke stars in this retelling of the bizarre and infamous 1973 hostage crisis in Stockholm that baffled law enforcement officers. The robbery, doomed to fail, sent shockwaves around the globe as the freed hostages came to the aid and defence of the perpetrator, originating the term Stockholm Syndrome.



As Lars Nystrom (Hawke) bursts into one of the largest banks in Stockholm, he begins a multi-day standoff with police where motives and relationships begin to blur. Lars, soon exposed as being way out of his depth, will have to use every trick just to stay alive against a ruthless police force that cares more about seeing him behind bars than retrieving his only leverage: the hostages. Hawke reteams with director Robert Budreau after magnificent results in Born to be Blue, and here we find a perfect role for Hawke that radiates charisma and vulnerability. Mark Strong also stars as Lars’ more assured accomplice, and Noomi Rapace gives a tremendous performance as Bianca, one of the hostages who becomes emotionally entangled with her captors. Stockholm Syndrome has been ripe material for bad detective stories for years, but Stockholm examines the concept from its inception and shines a spotlight on the psychology and characteristics that allow this phenomenon to take place. Budreau goes deeper than binary labels of “cops and robbers” and instead investigates the nature of empathy and human connection. It is a surprisingly tender work that also balances its roots in heist films and Coen Brothers-style dark comedy with great aplomb.




Director: Andrey Paounov USA I 2018 I 105 min Documentary

For decades, married installation artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude have dazzled the world with their incredible, large-scale projects from New York to Berlin. One idea, conceptualized in the 1970s but never attempted, was The Floating Piers, a buoyant walkway that would replicate the feeling of walking on water. After Jeanne-Claude’s passing in 2009, Christo sets out to Italy on his first solo project to finally realize their long-awaited vision. With unprecedented access to the cantankerous artist, Walking on Water follows him during the many complicated stages of the project. Financing the $17-million work himself, Christo and his long-suffering manager must overcome financial, political, environmental, and logistical walls at every turn to complete this inconceivable, and frankly insane, ambition. As more and more difficulties arise, Christo becomes only more determined to realize the vision that has eluded him for so long. The construction of The Floating Piers plays out like a thriller, but it’s the aftermath that may be the most exciting part. Walking On Water brings you into the artist’s shoes like no other, and as thousands come for the once-ina-lifetime thrill, how art is experienced gets put under the microscope. Its ravenous consumption starts to feel off-putting after becoming so connected to the beauty of the conception, and as more and more people come, the ill-prepared team will soon finds bigger, and deadlier complications.



Director: Muayad Alayan Palestine I 2018 I 127 min Special Jury Award International Film Festival Rotterdam Grand Jury Prize Seattle International Film Festival

This taut and engrossing drama – inspired by true events, according to Palestinian director Muayad Alayan – explores the personal costs of an extramarital romantic affair between a Jewish Israeli woman and a Muslim Palestinian man. These costs inevitably are borne by individuals who have little interest in the political conflict, but who ultimately are held captive to it.



The plot of Alayan’s film concerns this human dimension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, where the notion of discreet personal and political realms is revealed to be a vague or even absurd myth. The film’s highest dramatic piquancy, however, lies in its willingness to eschew any simplistic idea of political balance or moral equivalency. Rather it shows how the class and power differential between Israelis and Palestinians results in strikingly different consequences for even commonplace transgressions. This awareness makes Alayan’s film deeply political in a philosophical, rather than a newsy, sense. The politicized aspect of The Reports on Sarah and Saleem is signalled by its police-dossier-evoking title, which reflects the constant intrusion of distant authority into the characters’ lives. The film’s canny and self-conscious politicization reflects the fact that director Alayan and his brother, Rami Alayan, who wrote the film’s screenplay, are co-founders of the Palestinian filmmakers’ collective PalCine. Based in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, PalCine marries award-winning filmmaking with teaching at local Palestinian art and film schools. Alayan’s film, perhaps surprisingly, does contain a tentative note of hopefulness. A better future is imaginable, the film obliquely suggests, only once individuals relinquish the idea of national pre-eminence in favour of a difficult yet imperative commitment to human solidarity. In Alayan’s film, the personal is besieged, but not entirely overwhelmed, by the political.




Canadian Premiere Director: Eliran Malka Israel I 2018 I 92 min

Eliran Malka’s entertaining debut feature, The Unorthodox, evokes the gritty world of Israeli politics in the early 1980s, when a scrappy group of political neophytes in Jerusalem founded a powerful political party to represent the underclass Jews of Middle Eastern origin. The Unorthodox recalls a time when Jews of Ashkenazi (European) descent represented the political establishment to the near-total exclusion of Sephardi or Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jews. This exclusionary hierarchy had given rise, in the 1970s, to the secular Israeli Black Panther protest movement, loosely inspired by the eponymous American group. Malka’s historical drama chronicles the emergence, a decade later, of a religious counterpart to the Black Panthers. Yaakov Cohen, a middleaged printer in Jerusalem, is infuriated by the anti-Sephardi prejudice that has led to his teenage daughter’s expulsion from her Ashkenazi-dominated religious school. In outrage, Cohen joins two friends in seeking municipal council seats. Their improbable electoral success results in their recruitment by Sephardi rabbis to challenge the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox national party, Agudat Yisrael. The new party Cohen founds, Shas, will eventually become a Sephardi religious stronghold and a highly influential party in the Israeli Knesset. Malka’s film is respectful of the social inspirations for the Shas party’s formation, but this is hardly a triumphalist narrative. The Unorthodox, rather, is a film that evokes the characteristic disjuncture between a protest movement’s origins and its established form. Today, the Shas party is a pillar of Israel’s right-wing governing coalition; some of its most prominent leaders, notably Aryeh Deri (a slick manipulator in the film), have been jailed for criminal offences. The Unorthodox asks a disquieting question: are successful protest movements eternally destined to reproduce the political establishment?




Director: Jafar Panahi Iran I 2018 I 100 min


Best Screenplay Cannes Film Festival 3 Faces is a patient and enduring exploration of three female actors and a patriarchal society’s view of their journey at different points in their lives. Marziyeh, a young aspiring actor forbidden from following her dreams; Jafari, facing sexism despite being a world-famous actor; and Shahrzad, a retired actor, now a lonely outcast at the end of her career. All of them share a common challenge.



Jafari (a famous actor who plays herself) watches as aspiring artist Marziyeh (Marziyeh Rezaei) pleads for the well-known actor’s help from a secluded cave in a rural village. She needs help convincing her family she should attend the acting conservatory she’s been accepted into, but forbidden from attending. Then she appears to commit suicide. Jafari and her friend, director Jafar Panahi (also playing himself) travel to dusty Azerbaijan, in search of the girl in the grainy video who may no longer be alive – the only information they have, a disturbing video neither of them can be sure is even real. Yet both are compelled to find the truth and find a young woman in a foreign land, where farm animals may be treated better than some of the women in the secluded village. Real-life director Panahi faces a well-documented travel ban in his own country of Iran, unable to attend screenings of his own films overseas. Panahi is forced to rely on his films to speak on his behalf, and 3 Faces’ steady, even commentary is one that should be heard.




BC Premiere Director: Wanuri Kahiu Kenya I 2018 I 82 min Silver Q-Hugo Award Chicago International Film Festival

Banned in its native country of Kenya, Rafiki’s bold themes of intolerance are matched only by the country’s film classification board banning this story of two young Kenyans in love, because they both happen to be female. Rafiki’s love story follows Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva), the young daughters of competing politicians who find love in a rundown neighbourhood in Nairobi where lesbians are met with fear, anxiety and sometimes violence. Kena skateboards everywhere she goes and has her heart set on a nursing career, with the grades to make her dreams a reality. Her secret girlfriend Zika sports flowing pink dreadlocks and dances in the streets of their impoverished community – where the eyes of their meddlesome neighbours are always watching. As their closet relationship slowly reveals itself to the gossiping eyes and ears of their tight-knit community, the volatility of competing politician fathers and traditional family values slowly choke a love that cascades out of control. Will their taboo relationship be the catalyst for change in a community thick with intolerance? Director Wanuri Kahiu’s beautifully-shot second narrative feature paints a vibrant, happy colour palette juxtaposed over a bleak reality. It all cascades over a love their church-going parents and friends will never accept. The roadblocks to Kena and Ziki’s happiness may not be the trials and tribulations of their newfound relationship, but the very communities they once thought they belonged to.



WORLD PERSPECTIVE - ASIA More than 60 per cent of the world’s population lives in Asia and it comes as no surprise that is also home to some of the world’s best cinema. Victoria Film Festival’s 2019 selections take filmgoers to the other side of the world for films including Ash is Purest White from Zhangke Jia, one of the most celebrated directors in the world. Promising storytellers Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) and Ash Mayfair (The Third Wife) represent some of the best up-and-coming talents from the East, with eight films forming a peek into some of cinema’s best-kept secrets.


Palme d’Or nominee Asako I & II’s touching love story of a young woman who must choose between two identicallooking strangers is perfectly quirky, poignant and painful in all the right ways. The Ramen Shop’s stirring culinary journey of forgiveness and reconciliation follows a young chef leaving Japan to learn more about his long-deceased mother and recently-deceased father.


One of Asia’s top directors, Zhangke Jia, returns with the drama Ash is Purest White, which may be his best film yet – and for Jia that is saying a lot. Cathy Yan’s quirky, dark comedy Dead Pigs is one of the best surprises of the year and she will be the first Asian woman to direct a DC superhero film. Taiwan’s enduring drama Father to Son is a journey of discovery as a father-and-son duo uncover truths about themselves and their fathers and sons along the way.


The Third Wife’s sobering portrayal of a 14-year-old girl married off to a wealthy landowner is both a powerful, and deeply touching drama exploring filial duty in a deeply patriarchal 19th Century rural Vietnam.


In the Shadows is a haunting drama exploring the obsessions of a man secretly videotaping his community in India. Sir’s love story follows a young maid and her wealthy master, slowly falling in love as tradition and caste collide in a turbulent story of forbidden love in the metropolis of Mumbai.




Director: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi Japan/France I 2018 I 119 min Best Screenplay International Cinephile Society Award

Asako is blissfully in love with the mysterious and handsome Baku. But when her free-spirited boyfriend leaves for an errand and doesn’t return, Asako (Erika Karata) is left heartbroken and unable to cope. A chance meeting stuns her when she inadvertently runs into Ryohei, a sake salesman who’s the spitting image of her former love (both played by Masahiro Higashide). Asako can barely believe her eyes, and it isn’t long before Asako falls for the doppelgänger of the former boyfriend who left her without so much as a word. Fast forward five years, the dependable and hard-working Ryohei’s career is on the rise, the couple are living together and decide to settle down in Osaka where she had fled heartbreak years ago. Her life appears picture perfect, but Asako has a secret and discovers that her ex-boyfriend Baku, now a successful model and actor gracing billboards in Tokyo, is back. She is torn and must choose between the two identicallooking men who couldn’t be more different. Based on the Tomoka Shibasaki novel, director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s followup to the award-winning film Happy Hour, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015, balances a finely-crafted love story without sinking into the quicksand of melodrama like so many have done before. This Palme d’Or-nominated film sees subtle but layered performances from both leads Karata and Higashide. They anchor on-screen chemistry that reads honest, rather than earnest, and deftly navigate the tightrope between Asako’s double-edged sword.





BC Premiere Director: Eric Khoo Japan I 2018 I 90 min

While Ramen Shop’s story starts with a culinary mission, director Eric Khoo’s endearing film reveals themes of forgiveness and reconciliation bubbling underneath Japan’s occupation of Singapore during the Second World War.



Masato, a budding ramen chef living in Japan, works in his father’s successful ramen shop. After his father (Tsuyoshi Ihara) unexpectedly dies, Masato (Takumi Saito) discovers his family history and leaves the business and his life behind to find the family he never knew in Singapore. In Singapore, Masato tracks down an uncle (Mark Lee) he has only seen in photographs. He soon discovers the uncle is a fellow restaurateur with the secrets to the perfect soup he craves so much. Unfolding through flashbacks, Masato’s bittersweet journey to the land of his long-deceased Chinese mother (Jeanette Aw), brings together family and a look at the past. Soon his father’s relationship with his mother, the truth about the grandmother (Beatrice Chien) he never met, and the history that intertwined them all reveal a family tree Masato never truly understood. Fans of food cinema won’t be disappointed; Khoo’s narrative of Masato’s family roots adds depth seldom seen in culinary endeavors. Ramen Shop reveals hidden flavours that are much more than the sum of its ingredients.





Director: Ya-Chuan Hsiao Taiwan I 2018 I 115 min Best Director Taipei Film Festival

Something is wrong with Pao-Te (Chung-Run Huang). Sudden inexplicable pain cuts through his body, yet the proud 60-year-old shopkeeper refuses treatment. Instead of travelling to a specialist to care for his health, he leaves Taiwan and his shop to travel to Japan in search of the father who left him as a child. At his side, his adult son Ta-Chi (Meng-Po Fu), cares for the ailing father he doesn’t fully understand. But as they trek through a foreign land, Pao-Te isn’t the only one who unearths a greater awareness of his own father. His son Ta-Chi learns to empathize with Pao-Te through unearthed secrets about the mysterious grandfather he never knew – and Pao-Te’s motivations slowly materialize as both learn about the fathers neither of them truly understood. Back in Taiwan, Newman (Samuel Ku), makes his way to help his relative (Tammy Darshana Lai), both of whom may have their own connection to Pao-Te. Unfolding in part through flashbacks and parallel storylines, director Ya-Chuan Hsiao (Taipei Exchanges) crafts a complex and compelling narrative in this award-winning film. The ties to the father-son relationship are well documented and multifaceted, but the film’s tertiary themes further mine family secrets, lost memories and past transgressions that soon bubble to the surface like Pao-Te’s mysterious illness. Will the ailing shopkeeper stay healthy long enough to find the answers he needs on his journey into the roots of his dark family tree?


Director: Ash Mayfair Vietnam I 2018 I 96 min NETPAC Award Toronto International Film Festival TVE Award San Sebastian Film Festival


It’s 19th Century rural Vietnam and the 14-year-old May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), now the third wife of a wealthy landowner, is absorbed into a world she isn’t prepared for.



Filial duty to her parents, to her new husband, her fellow wives and the day-to-day pressure of living in a society thick with patriarchy ride heavy on the shoulders of a teenager younger than the son of the man she has just married. The two older wives Ha (Nu Yên Khê Tran) and Xuan (Man The Huong Maya), are nurturing and supportive, almost motherly to the third wife, but competition inevitably weaves into the relationships in a world where bearing a boy surely brings honour and favour with it. First-time feature director Ash Mayfair’s explorations of patriarchy, polygamy and child brides in rural Asia are carefully drawn, without resorting to caricatures – not even of the wealthy landlord who spends most nights with his new bride. Mayfair’s astute dissection of the the world, while difficult to watch unravel at times, reveals restraint and honesty without being heavyhanded. This must-watch film contrasts the scenic pastel landscapes of beautiful Vietnam against a sometimes bleak glimpse into the strength and resilience of a 14-year-old girl. She does everything in her power to rise to duty, in a time when most women had little power – and more than their fair share of duty.




Director: Zhangke Jia China/France I 2018 I 136 min Best Actress, Best Director, Chicago International Film Festival

Qiao (Tao Zhao) has found love in a gang. Her boyfriend Bin (Fan Liao), a gang leader living a violent and erratic life in a small Chinese town, is surrounded by followers who fear and respect him and his gun, including Qiao. But when Bin is trapped and beaten by a mob, Qiao runs to his defence with her boyfriend’s weapon, illegally firing, knowing it would save Bin but send her to jail. Five years later, Qiao’s time in a women’s jail is finally up, but the man she loves so dearly and sacrificed so much for isn’t waiting for her on the other side. In fact, Bin hasn’t once visited her and isn’t even taking her calls now that she’s out. Unwavering in her loyalty, Qiao embarks on a journey to reclaim the love she spent five years in jail for, despite signs the man she still loves has moved on without her. Qiao has paid her debt to society, but will the man she loves pay his debt to her? Director Zhangke Jia, past winner of the Golden Coach and Best Screenplay awards at the Cannes Film Festival, returns with another dynamic story featuring his real-life wife Zhao in the lead. Jia’s (A Touch of Sin, Still Life, Mountains May Depart) gritty love story of turbulent and unrelenting loyalty captures the unblinking and indifferent underbelly of low-level gangs with a disciplined eye, once again proving him to be one of the most skilled directors in the world.



Director: Cathy Yan China I 2018 I 130 min World Cinema Award Sundance Film Festival

What do you call thousands of decomposing pigs inexplicably bobbing in a river?



Inspiration for one of the year’s quirkiest and complex dark comedies, of course. Loosely based on real events when 16,000 diseased pigs are found floating in the Huangpu River in Shanghai, Dead Pigs follows a lowly pig farmer with nowhere to dispose of carcasses deemed inedible by local authorities. Forced to secretly cut losses on animals he spent years raising, Old Wang (Haoyu Yang) desperately hustles a hulking pig over his shoulder in hopes of selling the now worthless carcass in the local meat shops. Financial ruin is at stake and this frantic farmer will do anything to survive. Despite the bleak plot, Cathy Yan’s delightfully unconventional script marries five seemingly unrelated parallel lives into a peculiar but unexpectedly moving and amusing series of subplots. Will the bumbling pig farmer find a way out of his predicament? Will the pigeon-raising salon owner (Vivian Wu) be pushed out of her long-time home by a sly developer (David Rysdahl)? Will the affluent and spoiled youth (Meng Li) find love in a lowly busboy (Mason Lee)? Each unique character, built on a seemingly classic trope, is layered with depth and amusingly contrasts each other, with the ensemble intersecting in the film’s unconventional conclusion. On the strength of Dead Pigs, first-time feature director Yan, a former journalist, will be the first Asian woman to direct a DC superhero film when she takes the reigns of Birds of Prey, featuring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Based on this unexpectedly hilarious film, it’s easy to see why.





BC Premiere Director: Jerry Rothwell India / UK I 2018 I 85 min Documentary

What is the future of education in a networked world? TED Prizewinning scientist Sugata Mitra installs an unmanned Internet kiosk in a remote Bengali village to create a school in the cloud. As children encounter the Internet for the first time, will they be able to use it to transform their futures? Filming over three years, director Rothwell explores the difficulties that Mitra faces in bringing his vision of providing youth the opportunity to develop a more informed and better life for themselves. Mitra’s ideas about minimally invasive education are put to the test. In the late 90s, Mitra set up an experiment. He made a hole in the wall of his office building in New Delhi, in which he installed a computer screen and mousepad for use by local slum kids. After a few months they wanted more expensive graphics cards and a better mouse, and displayed a thirst for knowledge that got Mitra thinking about how our factory-style education systems might be improved with modern technology. Rothwell shares both sides of the debate about theory put in practice which makes for a documentary that will have you talking long after it is over.



Director: Dipesh Jain India I 2018 I 117 min


Grand Jury Prize Mumbai International Film Festival Have you ever wanted something so badly, without really knowing why?



This haunting and mysterious psychological drama explores obsession and morality following Khoodos (Manoj Bajpayee), a lonely introvert secretly infatuated with video surveillance of his small community in India. Khoodos carefully watches over the meandering maze-like alleyways of his neighbourhood when one day he overhears a young boy beaten by his father. The sounds of the young boy crying out as he endures a vicious beating triggers Khoodos, who lives alone with little kinship outside the monitors he uses to spy on his neighbourhood. Ostracized in his own tightly-knit community and living vicariously through the lives of others, Khoodos risks the little he has, to find and save a child he has never met. Slowly he begins to lose his grip on the little he had, unable to focus on anything outside of the singular infatuation that now drives every waking hour. His small business, his reputation, his friends, family and his own mental health fall to the wayside one by one as Khoodos’ unhealthy infatuation and paranoia swell in a race to track the elusive abused boy before it’s too late. Dipesh Jain’s thrilling first feature uses deft screenwriting to skillfully navigate Bajpayee’s layered and resonant performance of a documentarian forced into a life he felt most comfortable watching from a distance. Ultimately, Khoodos’ altruistic but unhealthy obsession bridges the sparse and uninspired life he knew with a reality than he could never have imagined.




Director: Rohena Gera India/France I 2018 I 99 min Audience Award Mill Valley Film Festival

What happens when a master falls in love with his maid? Class, caste and tradition collide when Ratna, a young widow serving as a maid in Mumbai, and Ashwin, the son of a wealthy businessman, fall for one another in the wake of shared loss. Living as a widow and sullied in the eyes of her small rural community because of it, Ratna (Tillotama Shome) cares for her sombre employer (Vivek Gomber) when his high-priced wedding is called off in the wake of his fiance’s affair. Ratna’s shared journey with Ashwin, contrasted through the optics of a highly patriarchal society, is a compelling love story in the face of formidable societal tension. Ratna eats without utensils, sitting on the kitchen floor with the rest of the servants and teased when Ashwin shows the least bit of kindness to his maid. Ashwin is served at the head table, with fancy utensils, the heft of his family legacy teetering upon his shoulders. Writer and director Rohena Gera, known for her documentary What’s Love Got to Do With It? more than her narrative credits, crafts a deceptively charming film. Intelligent and tactful, with hues of Gera’s documentarian voice germinating in the background, Sir climbs and overtakes the boundaries of its own genre. Tillotama Shome’s understated, graceful performance as Ratna layers Gera’s examination of the power dynamics in a complex and deeply traditional society – while tastefully walking the tightrope of forbidden love shackled to the chains of class.


BC Premiere


Director: Zara Balfour & Marcus Stephenson

Nepal/UK I 2018 I 93 min Documentary

Best International Documentary DOC LA Award

Parents from the Himalayan mountaintops are leaving their children behind and never returning.



Families fortunate enough to have their children accepted into a school in Kathmandu traverse arduous terrain for weeks, with their toddlers on their backs, only to leave them behind in the hopes they live a life they could not provide. Children of the Snow Land follows three such Nepali students, Tsering Deki, Jeewan and Nima, all left at the Snowland Ranag Light of Education School in Kathmandu as toddlers. More than a decade later, they return to the unforgiving terrain of the Himalayas to seek their families after being left at the school at the age of four. Equal parts difficult and dangerous, the unpredictable weather and terrain reflect the undulating emotions of a trio of youth who never had a choice, feeling deserted and unloved by parents who’ve never visited them since. By plane, bus and finally by foot, the students trek to their respective villages, one forced to hike more than 15 days on foot, battling altitude sickness through the beautiful Himalayan Mountains overlooking Nepal. Their hope, to reconnect with the families whose faces they barely remember. Directed by Zara Balfour and Marcus Stephenson, the award-winning documentary features an emotional and poignant migration. A revealing story of the unwavering conviction of families living in the most difficult of lives, made only more onerous when when they are torn apart, sometimes forever.




THE COST OF LOOKING Films about what we see when we look around and what price we pay for looking further than we normally do.


It is said that in the year of 1492, the first European ship led by Christopher Columbus disembarked on the coast of Samaná, present-day Dominican Republic, and was received by a rain of arrows carefully plotted by the Caribbean Taíno. Presently, a saline lake named after the Taíno chief Enriquillo witnesses profound eco-systemic changes, leading to species migration, forced evacuation and an expanding coral desert revealing the lake’s geologic past.


Alexandra Gelis I ON I 6 min

A garden between Oakland and Berkeley and gentrification is a space of love and freedom cared for by Brian for the last 25 years.

UNTITLED, 1925 (PART 2) Madi Piller I ON I 9 min

Poetry, memory and identity are at play as Madi Piller follows the path her grandfather took through the highlands of Peru. The Andes becomes the backdrop for reflections and insights into her sense of belonging.

VESTIGES OF EXISTENCE - YOUTH Gili Shaanan I Israel I 12 min

Last Passover, Gili’s ex wondered whether she’d kept texts he’d written her. After four violencefree years, she found herself indulging in, with a sickening pleasure, the search for evidence of a more intense existence.


Alexa-Jeanne Dubé I QC I 12 min

A triptych of erotic art videos uniquely filmed with a drone. Real-life testimonies exploring sexuality create a voyeuristic and aesthetically beautiful experience.

DOES THE SAND HEAR THE WAVES? Taravat Khalili I ON I 30 min

Journey of a girl raised in an Eastern culture, but who resides in a Western country.


Films that explore the power of sounds and silences in our individual lives.



Oliver Milburn I UK I 7.5 min

An old man works alone in his garage, click-click-clicking the hours away on an old desktop computer. His name is Hugo, and he’s making something ... something great ...


Takeshi Kushida I Japan I 10 min

A lonely man becomes fascinated with a shadow that appears on his apartment’s wall.


“No regrets,”says Vivianne Gauthier. Strong, energetic, disciplined and singular, this dance choreographer and teacher has built her life her way, becoming an emblematic figure of Haitian culture.


Lawrence Le Lam I BC I 20 min

Tensions still linger in 1997 L.A. between the Korean-American and black communities after the ‘92 riots. Jay, a Korean-American high school student, finds himself pulled into a hip-hop scene where the two worlds collide.


Isabel Dunn I USA I 25 min

“How can I get closer to the past, which moves farther and farther away?” So begins a film about early recorded sound and the hunger for connection across time that marks each of us.



BEAUTIFUL OBSESSIONS Films that ask how far do you go to get your sense of self-satisfaction?


Connor Gaston I Victoria I 12.5 min

A young piano player tries to help his mother cope with the death of her husband the only way he knows how – through music.


Alison Snowden, David Fine I BC I 14 min

Dealing with what comes naturally isn’t easy, especially for animals. Some animals even meet regularly to discuss their inner angst in a group therapy session. From the Oscar-winning team behind Bob’s Birthday.


Sandrine Béchade I QC I 20 min

Lili is perfect, unlike her loser family. She will meet The Martian, a misfit teen. Together, they will form a bond hatched from their imaginary worlds.


Ali Weinstein, Larry Weinstein I ON I 47 min

Following in the tradition of the legendary long-distance swimmer Marilyn Bell, 15-year-old Maya Farrell sets out to complete a record 88-km swim from Rochester to Toronto across Lake Ontario.


Films that explore our sense of how we see those we think we love and how they see us.



Alex Boya I QC I 6.5 min

A surreal, romantic tragi-comedy about a man who merges with his warplane and can no longer connect with his wife.


On the edge of a forest, a woman pitches a tent and starts to collect men.


A couple meets at a ritzy party. They fall in love and paint the town red together. Then one day when love has faded, he wanders the city, finding a door that leads directly to the surface of the moon.


Albertine Zullo, David Toutevoix I QC I 14.5 min

Madeleine the Human Cannonball and her husband are carnies. Their lives, like their show, seem to be perfectly under control. But in reality, Madeleine is unhappy and wants to break out of her routine.


Barnabás Tóth I Hungary I 16 min

During a professional conference in Prague, two simultaneous interpreters in the Hungarian booth realize that only one person is listening to them.


Asim Chaudhry I UK I 17 min

Eternally single Mark refuses to settle for anyone but “the one,” but a chance encounter in the back of a taxi pool forces him to consider that sometimes love can be found in the strangest places.


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An online Video Competition for Students. Youth interested in content creation make short films and upload them to the VFF Vimeo channel.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FILMS? The winning films based on a combination of likes and juror input will screen at the 25th annual Victoria Film Festival in front of the feature film Mirai on February 10 at 11 AM. Please visit the VFF website for the names of the filmmakers and films.




SENIOR CATEGORY (GRADE 9-12): • GoPro HERO7 Waterproof 4K Sports/Helmet Camera – courtesy of Prince of Whales Whale Watching • Adobe Creative Cloud (one year subscription) – provided by Adobe • Full tuition for summer program at Gulf Islands Film & Television School • Their film screened at the Victoria Film Festival • Tickets to attend their screening at the Victoria Film Festival JUNIOR CATEGORY (GRADE 8 AND UNDER): • $300 tuition for summer program at Gulf Island Film & Television School • Their film screened at the Victoria Film Festival • Tickets to attend their screening at the Victoria Film Festival


The Victoria Film Festival offers a comprehensive education program for classroom and community outreach to youth groups, youth centres, libraries, and schools. In 2018, 964 youth were informed by Victoria Film Festival programming.

FILMMAKERS INTO SCHOOLS Guests of the Victoria Film Festival, including writers, directors, composers, producers and musicians who attend the festival visit local classrooms to talk about art, offering advice about careers in the film industry and inspiring a new generation of filmmakers.

SNAPSHOTS: 1 HOUR - FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS Snapshots is an interactive hands-on introductory filmmaking workshop led by experienced, award-winning local filmmakers and artists who teach youth the fundamentals of writing, lighting, editing, and camerawork through the use of smart phones and other do-it-yourself solutions.

SCHOOL SCREENINGS Year-round at The Vic Theatre, and during the Victoria Film Festival, the VFF offers special screenings of great independent films and documentaries for local schools, inviting filmmakers and actors involved in these films for interactive Q&As.

LET’S MAKE A MOVIE This March during Spring Break, the Victoria Film Festival will introduce youth to a lively full day hands-on class. Participants will create a story and storyboard and then film and edit the work all in one day. That evening the film will screen at The Vic Theatre for our filmmakers and their friends and family. Session held at the Downtown Central Library and the Saanich Centennial Library.










v La







25TH ANNIVERSARY: STATES OF PLAY At 25 it’s time for a gander back in time but not in a conventional sort of way. Victoria artist Gina Luke has created playful installations highlighting 25 years of the festival. We are out to make you laugh, cry and marvel at the discoveries of the VFF and perhaps make you regret the year you missed.



A wide-ranging conversation with director Chris Eyres and actors Evan Adams and Tantoo Cardinal from Smoke Signals, hosted by Richard Crouse of CTV’s Pop Life.



Parents, there is Fernwood coffee. You’re welcome. Plus a great film and cereal for the young uns.



An online video competition that results in two youth shorts being screened at the festival.




One film that rocked our socks 22 years ago – Smoke Signals.



It’s all about a complete 360 during your chance to see some great shorts using virtual reality at the Central Branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Get tuned into the local scene with current works from Victoria’s professional filmmakers.




For filmmakers, a jam-packed day of “must need” knowledge from funders and industry.

PG116-117 105



CURATORIAL STATEMENT: States of Play is a multimedia exhibition composed of eight film and video installations that celebrate VFF’s 25-year history. These installation spaces invite us to abandon static ways of viewing cinema, discover film in a new way, and enter a state – of – play. In the spirit of bringing film to life, many of these installations will require patrons to engage with the exhibit performatively. This may be a piece which requires the viewer to step into a projection box, peer under a plinth, and traverse a series of bellowed walls. They may have to kneel, crawl under, lie down, or move to access media. In this sense, the exhibit will not only be a place to watch media, but also to consider the performative role of an audience during a cinematic presentation. The work selected for this exhibition is reflective of VFF’s pursuit to create a platform for unconventional cinema. The shorts being presented are cinematic hybrids that encompass many artistic mediums including dance, theatre, video architecture, digital media, found objects, sculpture, television news, performance interview, video games and poetry. These hybrids reveal the way in which film can act as a bridge between all mediums. They illustrate the spectacular results that can occur when mediums collide into a filmic format. –Gina Luke


A series of enigmatic plinths entice viewers to uncover what’s hidden inside. In each plinth, two small lenses on either side offer bizarre cinematic immersion and performatory experiences. Video channels have been hidden on either side of the rectangular structure allowing for two points of discovery. This piece asks you to participate in a double act with another audience member who may be glimpsing into the other side. SUBCONSCIOUS PASSWORD (2014) invites


us to participate as a studio audience in a stereoscopic simulation of a colourful game show. We explore Chris Landreth’s subconscious in the hopes of saving him from a social faux pas.

us into the experimental drug-induced void generated by two college friends. We travel through this work with their dialogue anchoring us in a non-space. This piece was created by Patrick Lowe under the Winnipeg film group collective.

THE ART OF DROWNING (2010) where

MIA’ (2016) soft sculpture and theatre

I SEE A DARKNESS (2006) this seductive work

ORA (2012) shows the spectacular result

presents us with a cascading grid of colours that shift across our field of view endlessly. Visuals rest alongside a repurposed Johnny Cash song personalized by Meeso Lee’s voice. This short was presented as part of VFF’s 2001 “Visions from Beyond” abstractions.

of the collaborative practice between dance choreographer José Navas and filmmaker Philippe Baylaucq after they embarked on a two-year residency with the NFB in Quebec. It is the first piece to use 3D thermal imaging, producing visuals like none that have ever been seen before.

HAIR LADY (2007) by David Birdsell is a piece

HAIKU 4 (2015) is one part in a series of 10

the undulating tempo of Billy Collins’ voice becomes expressed through a fluid animation by Diego Maclean.

that explores the dynamics of alienation. This work began as a science project expressed through timelapse photography. David Birdsell has contributed a number of high-calibre shorts to the Victoria film festival and taken home first place prizes for them. These include, Phil Touches Flo and Blue City.


are integrated into cinematic scenes based on the detailed inter-city geography of Vancouver. Amanda Strong’s work explores the ideas of blood memory and Indigenous oral story.

video haikus created through stop motion animation, marionette puppetry and relief sculpture. These haikus explore ritual and personal grief through shifting dream-like states. Calgary-based animator, Lyle Pisio took the VFF best short animation award for Haiku 4 in 2015.

The bellows is an installation that asks participants to abandon the static version of cinema and traverse into surreal cinematographic locations. Panels have been placed in a serpentine arrangement and beckon for participants to weave in and out of a series of shorts. Each short is designed to take us on a journey to an alluring destination. JUICY DANGER MEETS BURNING MAN (1998)

is a biographical documentary that takes us into the Nevada desert for an iconic festival. This work delves into the performative appearances of Christine Stewart’s alter ego, Nurse Tiny. The role of the audience is always in flux as Nurse Tiny’s shifting engagement with the camera crew and other patrons creates a fluid double act. This cult classic was screened at VFF’s fourth festival.


filmmaker Ho Tam’s complex sentiments about both the creation and experience of the Asian male identity. Comprised of some of his best works from 1994 to 2008, this series of rich montages reappropriates his experimental body of work in a larger global context.

ASIAN GANGS (2013) is a short which takes

on faux broadcasting from Vancouver’s streets to report on socioeconomic issues often ignored in the media. This short, created by Calum MacLeod and Lewis Bennet, was a finalist in VFF’s View and Vote program.

MIEUX (2000) by Denis Côté highlights the goings-on of a failing romance. Poignant shifts between cinematic modes give us a unique insight into Madeline and Simon’s relationship. Denis Côté is an independent filmmaker and producer living in Quebec, of Brayon origin.

SAD BEAR (2011) is a folklore piece

that stems from the reimagining of the New York urban legend, Death Bear (2009). Both Sad Bear and Death Bear are interventionist performers who visit patrons during times of vulnerability and strip them of the sentimental objects that perpetuate their grief.



AREA CODE (2003) is a landscape portrait

venturing from Eastern to Western Canada expressed through fleeting roadside imagery. This work was part of a VFF special feature titled “unchartered territory” where a series of shorts took us to a variety of zig-zagging destinations in North America.


international spoken word poet, Shayne Koyczan. Koyczan connected with documentary filmmaker Melanie Wood to create the film. This piece explores the roots of his spoken-word performance alongside a restorative journey to his hometown.


Enter the archives, let these films transport you away, become untethered from the present as you explore VFF’s strangest series of filmic hybrids. As viewers climb into this installation they activate a baffling performative role when their body becomes integrated into a sculptural object. PLAN FOR VICTORY (2008) swiss video and

installation artist Elodie Pong presents us with a message that is aerially scrawled upon an isolated hillside. This testament is first disrupted and then effectively deleted by a natural catastrophe.

RYAN (2005), a film by Chris Landreth,

blends an impromptu, real-life, interview of Ryan Larkin, with compelling, and otherworldly digital animation.

HIPSTER HEADDRESS (2017) was created by

Amanda Strong, a Vancouver-based media artist who works with hybrid documentary. This micro short was commissioned by the NFB to address trends in cultural appropriation indicative to Vancouver’s rave culture.



INSTALLATION 4: VR GLASSES Disconnect from the exhibition space and fixate on a 3-dimensional work that explores altering psychological states. MY TRIP TO LIBERTY CITY (2004) by Jim Munroe, uses the first player vantage point of a carjacking game alongside a bizarre YouTube soundtrack to demystify the violence normally associated with the game. As viewers, we experience this world’s more peaceful elements and walk freely as a Canadian tourist.

INSTALLATION 5: ANXIETY LOOP This small video installation is camouflaged within the regular architectural components of the Atrium space. A tiny video screen anchored on the wall plays an endless loop of Meeso Lee’s ANXIETY (2001). Meeso Lee is a Zine and Video artist based in Vancouver.

INSTALLATION 6: THE PHONEBOOK A familiar yellow text will be placed in the Atrium, housing Christine Stewart’s iconic work, THE PHONEBOOK (1999). This short takes an everyday object from the domestic realm and asks us to consider its legitimacy as a reference to cultural history.

INSTALLATION 7: FOUND SOUND The sound box is an audio device that explores the early years of the festival and the birth of VFF as a cultural hub in Victoria. Through this piece, we hear alternating segments of documentary audio and learn how the festival began from a single piece of film in 1995 titled, Wooden Nickles. This is a chance to learn how VFF has grown into an elaborate city-wide event and how it intends to grow in the future. This work has no specific beginning or end and audience members can jump in at any time to learn more about the Victoria Film Festival’s history as a cultural institution. Audio and Visual (1995) • Audio and Visual (1996) • Audio and Visual (1997)

INSTALLATION 8: THE HAVEN Participants transcend into a cocoon enclosure and uncover a space of retreat. Housed in the haven dome is a short by Catherine Bisley, Groping Revenge Fairytale (2018). The piece asks us to suspend our sense of reason and gently venture into unordinary settings.

EXHIBITION FEATURE: SAFE SPACE PANORAMA Safe Space Panorama is an 8-channel panoramic cinema that hosts immersive screenings, public lectures, discussions, and multichannel video work of artists that deal with uneasy content and ideas. This installation will engage with a selection of VFF’s 25 years of archival media in an immersive 360 degree environment. The structure itself merges together architecture, cinema, installation art, and the roundhouse style arrangement such as found in a speaking circle or around a campfire. This ongoing screening is a fluid opportunity to dive into 25 years of exclusive video footage uncovered in the VFF offices.


SUNDAY FEBRUARY 3RD AT 3 PM Levi Glass, the artist behind Safe Space Panorama will give a performative lecture on the alternative creation of the technology used to capture and disseminate images simulating virtual reality. Glass’ artistic practice focuses on the mediation between images and objects that often result in new technologies in familiar forms. MONDAY FEBRUARY 4TH AT 3 PM Laura Gildner will present a screening and talk for her video piece, Control (2018). Her practice is rooted in the performative and seeks to confront the precariousness inherent to power dynamics between image, desire, artist, and subject. TUESDAY FEBRUARY 5TH AT 3 PM Emily Geen will present a screening and talk for her recent work, Open Window (2018). This work explores the permeable experience of a new space via recordings made by placing a camera in relationships with panes of semi-reflective glass. Geen’s practice investigates the image as an interface for memory, comfort, and understanding.

OTHER EVENTS: POP UP LOCATIONS – CITY FUSION For this special anniversary season, VFF is pleased to be hosting a series of interactive pop-up installations through the inner city of Victoria between February 1-10. Each of these impromptu pop-up spaces will contain a playful and interactive video sculpture that spectators activate through participation. This celebratory fusion of video into Victoria’s public spaces presents a unique opportunity to uncover a range of multi-media material from 25 years of filmic archives. A map of these locations will be available online, and at the Atrium Exhibition venue. Get ready for a spectacle! DATES AND LOCATIONS February 2nd – Millies Lane, 4-7 PM February 5th – Greater Victoria Public Library, 12-4:30 PM February 7th – The Dave Dunnet Theatre, 4-9 PM February 8th – Victoria Event Centre, 6-9 PM February 9th – The Vic Theatre, 5:30-8:45 PM February 10th – Munros, 1-4 PM


LECTURES IN SAFE SPACE PANORAMA A series of lectures have been programmed for Safe Space Panorama by multimedia artists who currently work within themes of hybridity.

WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 6TH AT 3 PM Following a screening of Obsession (2018), Jordan Hill will present a talk about what visual cues we use to understand spaces and the ways we can use that information to manipulate the functionality of structures. FRIDAY FEBRUARY 8TH AT 3 PM Alongside a screening of Color Field (2018), artist Jake Hrubizna will discuss the convergence of video production with DIY equipment. Hrubizna’s work similarly attempts to hybridize film with abstract painting. Hrubizna will offer his insights on how his work will align with the trajectory of video art today. SATURDAY FEBRURARY 9TH AT 3 PM In relation to the VFF 2018 theme of “hybridity,” Leah McInnis will be delivering a new lecture titled, Things Seen From the Corner of my Eye: Art as Liminal Entity. Based on current research, this lecture weaves folklore with anecdote and criticism to examine the potential of art in life.


VFF warmly acknowledges the great support of the Ruby Red Fund and the Larch Fund through the Victoria Foundation.



IN CONVERSATION WITH SMOKE SIGNALS Smoke Signals was a seminal film for the Victoria Film Festival. It opened our mind to the community need and gave us a direction in which to strive. It is fitting that we now celebrate in our 25th year this wonderful film. Join us as we bring you another opportunity to see this mind-opening tale on the big screen. The film screens at 6:30 PM followed by a conversation with some of Smoke Signals’ principals. Richard Crouse of CTV’s Pop Life hosts.



CHRIS EYRE, the nation’s most celebrated Native American film director, was born in Oregon. A member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, he gained national attention in 1998 with the movie Smoke Signals, winning the Sundance Film Festival Filmmakers Trophy and the Audience Award. The Film also took Best Film honours at the American Indian Film Festival. He is a director and producer, also known for Edge of America (2003) and Skins (2002), and was honoured with the HatcH Native Spirit Award for his achievements in filmmaking. Chris Eyre was appointed as chairman of the film department at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design as of January 2012. EVAN ADAMS is from Tla’amin Nation, near the town of Powell River, B.C. He has starred in the Emmy-winning TV-movie Lost in the Barrens and its nominated sequel Curse of the Viking Grave, and numerous episodics like The Beachcombers and Black Stallion. Evan stars as Thomas Builds-The-Fire in Smoke Signals, written by Sherman Alexie. He won Best Actor awards from the American Indian Film Festival, and from First Americans in the Arts, and a 1999 Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. He continues to work on intermittent, high-profile projects, and is also a medical doctor in Vancouver, Canada. TANTOO CARDINAL is arguably the most widely recognized Indigenous actress of her generation. Tantoo has appeared in numerous plays, television programs, and films, including Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Black Robe, Loyalties, Luna, Spirit of the Whale, Unnatural & Accidental, Marie-Anne, Sioux City, Silent Tongue, Mother’s and Daughter’s and Smoke Signals. Recent work includes the films Eden, Maina, Angelique’s Isle and Falls Around Her (both playing at VFF 2019). For her film making contributions to the First Nations artistic community, Cardinal won the Eagle Spirit Award. She has also been honored with the MacLeans’ magazine Honour Roll as Actress of the Year; the Outstanding Achievement Award from Toronto Women in Film and Television; an International Women in Film Award for her lasting contribution to the arts, and induction to the CBC/Playback Hall of Fame. Cardinal is a Member of the Order of Canada, recognizing her contributions to the growth and development of Indigenous performing arts in Canada. RICHARD CROUSE is the host of the CTV talk show Pop Life, and the regular film critic for the 24 hour news source CTV’s News Channel and CP24. He is also the author of nine books on pop culture history including Who Wrote the Book of Love, the best-selling The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, and its sequel. Crouse was the host of Reel to Real, Canada’s longest running television show about movies, from 1998 to 2008 and is a frequent guest on many national Canadian radio and television shows.


Director: Chris Eyre USA I 1998 I 89 min Audience Favourite Sundance Film Festival



Grabbing Audience Favourite at the Sundance Film Festival, Smoke Signals was written, directed and acted by Indigenous creators. Director Chris Eyre captures the experience of living in the late 90s, through Thomas’ (Evan Adams) love of storytelling. Adam Beach stars as Victor Joseph, a young man who has been estranged from his father for more than a decade. He lives on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho – ostensibly the middle of nowhere. But life for Victor Joseph is anything but empty. A handsome, strapping guy, he is sullen, silent and angry over his dad’s desertion of the family. The father, Arnold (Gary Farmer, Dead Man), was a goodhearted but moody drunk. When his wife, Arlene (Tantoo Cardinal), couldn’t take the booze and the beatings anymore, Arnold climbed into his pickup truck and drove away forever. Years before Arnold’s departure, a fire swept through the house of Victor’s friend Thomas when an all-night party left most of the reservation – including Arnold – falling-down drunk. Arnold saved young Thomas, but the boy’s parents died, and since then Thomas has become the reservation outcast of sorts, grinning, bespectacled, socially inept, but with a mystical gift for telling wildly improbable stories, some of them true, to anyone who will listen. A delightfully lighthearted look at the Indigenous psyche with expected moments of tugging sadness. Unpretentious, funny and soulful, Eyre created a standout first feature.


25 Years And Counting Movies, Parties And Year Round Fun!




Sink or Swim at the Victoria Conference Centre Theatre 9:30 PM Party at 747 Fort St

t’s a hark back to glitz and glamour and yeah, I Love to Love You Baby when you Never Can Say ancing Queen. Let’s Give It Up AND Turnit a Loose, you can say You Heard It Though the Grapevine r Gonna Give You Up, you will just want More, More, More and if we are all lucky – I Will Survive.

– frivolity, film, delicious food, Sheringham’s cocktails, Spinnaker’s brew and a dash of wine expertly served by Vessel Liquor - before the Last Dance




JAMMIES & TOONS FOR THE FAMILY MIRAI OF THE FUTURE Director: Mamoru Hosoda Japan I 2018 I 98 min In English

The ritual of Saturday morning animations and cereal returns to The Vic. Put away those video games and come out to the theatre in your pyjamas and we’ll supply the milk and cereal. How nice it that? And for the parents there is delicious Fernwood Coffee to jump-start your day. From acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children) and Japan’s Studio Chizu comes Mirai, a daringly original story of love passed down through generations. When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. As his mother returns to work, and his father struggles to run the household, Kun becomes increasingly jealous of baby Mirai until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future – including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun and teenage Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story. But why did Mirai come from the future? An official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and the epic capstone of director Mamoru Hosoda’s career, Mirai is a sumptuous, magical, and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are. ---Preceding Mirai will be the winning short films created by local filmmakers for the VFF’s online Video Competition for Filmcan students.





FREE EVENT Virtual Reality (VR) is an artificial environment created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Or in common parlance, you get to experience the unreal as real. Come by and check out current Virtual Reality selected by the programming team of the Victoria Film Festival.


Set in a beautiful forest clearing, one young family’s life is expressed through the majesty of nature. Time passes from day to night, spring to winter and life to death.


Experience first-hand the hard work and experiences of a rural Canadian private sponsor group welcoming a refugee family from Iraq.


An emotionally immersive and visually poetic journey into the issue of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, through the story of a mother who suffered from substance abuse disorder and opioids.


Tonight is the first major exhibition of Carlotta Carlsen. While some mock her work, an important buyer waits impatiently – what could be delaying the artist’s arrival? Behind the scenes, four separate narratives weave together, inviting you to decide where to look.


Ever-changing in his outward appearance, the devil comes forth into the world and sells Man a destiny with the promise of a Tower of Babel. Man becomes cursed by his own greed, and as pollution spreads, nature is caught in a spiral of death.


Join us for an evening of recent work by Vancouver Island-based producers, followed by a Q&A with local filmmakers and the ViFPA After Party. Now is your chance to schmooze with local and visiting filmmakers. Ticket and VFF pass holders welcome.




The Victoria Independent Film Professionals Association (ViFPA) is a non-profit association of independent film professionals based on Vancouver Island. Actively involved in the development of award-winning film and television production, ViFPA members are creators of documentaries, television series, dramatic films, educational programming, animation, and more. This short featurette showcases the breadth of filmmaking talent that calls Vancouver Island home.


William Wilkinson and Oliver P.D. Brooks are the filmmaking collective Ft. Langley. Resembling an undiscovered 70s action film, colliding with the early work of Spike Jonze and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, these music videos are entertaining and visually dynamic, creating cinematic worlds of their own out of familiar Victoria landscapes.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – EAST/ DAIRY, EP. 4 EP: HILARY PRYOR, ART NAPOLEON I PRODUCER/DIRECTOR: MIKE WAVRECAN I 24 min In this episode of Food For Thought, host Dan Hayes tackles the issues around animal welfare in the dairy industry. He visits a working commercial farm and learns first hand what goes into producing dairy.


Indigenous youth from the Coast Salish territory on Vancouver Island train to represent their community in the world’s largest outrigger canoe race. Carrying on an old tradition using canoe racing as a form of healing, they enter the biggest canoe race in the world, taking them from their small community all the way to Hawaii. Screening followed by Q&A and the ViFPA After Party!





Commissioning editors will provide up-to-date info on the projects they fund. Harold Gronenthal, AMC Susan Hummel, Lionsgate Michelle McMahon, Bell Media Nicholas Tabarrock, Darius Films Nicole Mendes, CBC TV Drama

INDIGENOUS STREAM FUNDING 11:30 – 12:45 PM Discussion of Indigenous-exclusive funding programs.   Teri Snelgrove, NFB Tania Koenig-Gauchier, APTN Sarah Pocklington, First People’s Cultural Council Elfred Matining, TELUS Storyhive Indigenous Edition


Schedule one-on-one time to pitch your screenplay or project to commissioning representatives. Participants will be able to schedule 10 minutes of pitch time with the guests of your choosing. Also on hand is a public relations doyenne who advises on materials and strategies that you will need to get your film into the marketplace. Harold Gronenthal, AMC; Susan Hummel, Lionsgate Tania Koenig-Gauchier, APTN Michelle McMahon, Bell Media Nicholas Tabarrock, Darius Films Nicole Mendes, CBC TV Drama Angie Powers, Public Relations, D Films


Schedule one-on-one time to discuss your screenplay or project with public funders in order to explore which funding streams apply to your work. Erika Kumar, Creative BC Walter Quan, BC Arts Council Teri Snelgrove, NFB




Writers known for their remarkable translations from book to screen discuss the challenges of adapting source material for film. William Broyles Jr. (Apollo 13, Planet of the Apes, Cast Away, Jarhead, Polar Express) Others TBA


Why a web series? The web is a unique space for storytelling as well as building audiences. Its bite-sized stories, ability to release quickly, and opportunity to keep costs low speaks to an accessible way to create content. Hilary Pryor & Art Napoleon, Food For Thought Documentary Web Series Kate Green, NarcoLeap Web Series

NETWORKING RECEPTION 5:30-7 PM Content makers mix and mingle and get your next film project underway.

Booking pitches for SpringBoard is on a first come first served basis. Three meetings are guaranteed. If there are extra spaces after everyone is booked then we can offer more meeting opportunities on a last minute basis. Passes must be purchased by January 30. Once you purchase a pass you will receive an email directing you where to send an email with up to 5 names of people you would like to pitch – in order of preference.

SUPPORTED BY: Supported by the Province of British Columbia




Compact foldable Program Guide available at Fernwood Coffee, Monk Office, Serious Coffee, The Vic Theatre, Silver City, Odeon and many coffee shops around town. BOX OFFICE Tickets subject to GST. Online advance tickets can be purchased until three (3) hours before the show. At the VFF office, advance tickets can be purchased until February 8. Remaining tickets will be on sale at the door (cash only) 30 minutes before the show begins, based on availability.

PASSES: GOLD PASS: $375 Front of the Line access at regular film screenings; Opening Gala; two single night admissions for VIP lounge; and pass with lanyard. Note: Guarantees seating up to 15 minutes before film’s posted start time. Please note this excludes the Parkside Theatre venue.



SPRINGBOARD PASS: $89 Admits holder to Panels, Pitching Opportunities and Networking Reception.

No exchanges. No refunds. Program subject to change. GST #883954026RT0001 THREE EASY WAYS TO BUY (please note we are unable to do phone orders) 1. Advance, Online Jan. 7 – Feb. 10 at Visa, MasterCard accepted 2. Advance, In Person Jan 14. – Feb. 8 at 1215 Blanshard St Mon – Fri, 10 – 4 PM, and opening weekend (Feb. 1-3) Debit, Visa, MasterCard, cash accepted 3. At the door Same day. Cash or film voucher FILM Anniversary Program Guide $3 VFF/The Vic: Film Festival Membership: $2 Single Feature Film or Short Film Programs: $12.38 Like to save a little money? Buy 5, 10 or 15 tickets at one time and automatically pay: 5 Feature Film Tickets: $60 10 Feature Film Tickets: $118 15 Feature Film Tickets: $170 SPECIAL EVENTS ViFPA Film Night $12.38 Family Day Films $7 Opening Gala (All Inclusive) $79 End Fest $15 In Conversation With Smoke Signals $20 VR at Library Main Branch Free Anniversary Celebration Installation Free

FILM FESTIVAL MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION Membership has its privileges. In British Columbia the only way to view unclassified films is to be a member of the society showing the films and be over the age of 18 – that’s the law, even if the film would only merit a G rating. The Victoria Film Festival screens unclassified films. That’s why you must have a membership – which costs just $2. Once you’re a member of the Festival Society you qualify to see any of the 2019 VFF films, and films playing at The Vic Theatre at 808 Douglas St. until August 1, 2019

FESTIVAL AWARDS Several of the films that are juried and accepted into the Festival are selected to receive an award. Watch for the announcement of the winners at the End Fest. THE CATEGORIES PLEASE... Best Feature Film Best Canadian Feature Best Canadian First Feature $1,000 cash prize Best Documentary Best Short Animation Audience Favourite Best Short $500 cash prize Cineplex Entertainment Audience Favourite Feature Cultural Currents Award $1,000 cash prize



VICTORIA 3 Faces 85 That Higher Level 32 306 Hollywood 76 That Time of Year 72 A Sister’s Song 29 The Charmer 73 Adam and Evelyn 55 The Etruscan Smile 79 Angelique’s Isle 43 The Fireflies are Gone (La disparition des lucioles) 37 Anthem of a Teenage Prophet 33 The Grizzlies 19 Arctic 70 The Hummingbird Project 26 Asako I & II 88 The Museum of Forgotten Triumphs 34 Ash is Purest White 92 The Other Rio 22 Before the Frost 71 The Raft 69 Children of the Snow Land 97 The Reports on Sarah and Saleem 83 Dead Pigs 93 The School in the Cloud 94 Dogman 53 The Stranger 68 Don’t Be Nice 75 The Summit 65 Easy 54 The Third Wife 91 Edge of the Knife 41 The Trouble With You 63 Eldorado 58 The Unorthodox 84 Eternal Winter 60 Through Black Spruce 20 Evelyn 51 VIFPA 115 Falls Around Her 44 Walking on Water 82 Family First (Chien De Garde) 35 Warrior Women 42 Father to Son 90 What is Democracy? 30 Firecrackers 27 Wild Nights With Emily 78 Five Men and a Carvaggio 50 Woman at War 74 Funny Cow 48 Genesis 2.0 57 Girls of Meru 28 Granny Project 64 America: Bay of Arrows 98 Great Darkened Days (La Grande Noirceur) 36 Angel & Alien 100 Happy New Year, Colin Burstead 52 Animal Behaviour 100 Impulso 66 Cedar: Tree of Life 44 In The Shadows 95 Chuchotage 101 Invisible Essence: The Little Prince 31 Cypher 99 Les Salopes or The Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin 38 Does the Sand Hear the Waves? 98 Love, Scott 21 Encore 100 Maybe A Love Story 67 In the Heart of Vivianne Gauthier 99 Midnight Runner 56 Love Pool 101 Mirai of the Future 113 Once and Again 99 Mouthpiece 25 On the Water 43 Netizens 80 Revive 41 Non-Fiction 62 Scopique 98 Old Boys 49 Sometimes She Smiles 42 Over the Limit 59 The Backward Astronomer 101 Rafiki 86 The Cannonball Woman 101 Ramen Shop 89 The Impossible Swim 100 Robbery 24 The Island 98 Seder-Masochism 77 The Last Dance 99 Sink or Swim 17 Turbine 101 Sir 96 Untitled Groping Revenge Fairytale 101 Smoke Signals 111 Untitled, 1925 (Part 2) 98 Splinters 23 Vestiges of Existance – youth 98 Stockholm 81 Voice 99 Tell It To The Bees 47



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Opera Season



February 14, 16, 20, 22, 24 / 2019

“Baz Luhrmann’s quirky Moulin Rouge and the timeless romcom Pretty Women were inspired by Giuseppe Verdi’s classic opera La traviata”



April 25, 27, May 3, 5 / 2019 “A delectable confection from the Silver Age of Viennese Operetta!” All performances at the Royal Theatre 805 Broughton St., Victoria, BC

Call today! 250.385.0222 / 250.386.6121 / SEASON SPONSOR:






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2019 Victoria Film Festival Program Guide  

2019 Victoria Film Festival Program Guide  

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