It’s that time of year again to shut down your browsers in search of bearable-quality free downloads and hit the gritty street of Granville for a foreign film fiesta. The Vancouver International Film festival! Staying true to my last-minute ways I decided to pop over for a Sunday showing, but unfortunately the film I wanted to see was sold out (and 10 minutes underway might I add). So I decided to take that as an opportunity to do a bit of research on this year’s flicks and share with you my top picks. With close to 400 films from 75 countries you’re pretty much guaranteed to find something for everyone.  I didn’t manage to go through all of them, but after a little over an hour of speed-reading through summaries, I did sort through about half. Focusing on the films you still have a chance to see (I may have missed a few gems that played last week, such as Pedro Almodóvar’s “The Skin I Live in”) here are my suggestions based on their smart synopses.

The Canadian contribution:

I realize that this is an “international” film festival but it’s also a rare opportunity to watch a Canadian film at a theatre. My pick is Sarah Polly’s “Take This Waltz”. Although the leading actress is Michelle Williams (playing a married woman struggling to choose between her husband and a man she’s just met), the film also features Seth Rogan and scenes of Toronto (so it’s like, mostly Canadian). Sarah Polly, the Road to Avonlea has certainly led you elsewhere.

Plays Thursday October 6 @ 4PM, Vogue Theatre

The Cannes favourite:

Cannes knows films and why mess with what works? This year’s Camera d’Or winner is Argentinian/Spanish film Las Acacias described by Variety as “a delicate yet rigorously executed road movie [that] touchingly unfolds a passing-ships encounter between a truck driver and a mother who hires him to get her from Paraguay to Buenos Aires”. I’ve been dying to travel through South America and now I can do so vicariously through the eyes of a truck driver. Or a mother.

Plays Wednesday October 5 @ 8:45 pm and Monday October 10 @ 11am, Empire Granville 7 Theatres

The Daring Documentary:

How to Die in Oregon” documents the state’s 1994 law to allow its terminally ill residents the opportunity to “die with dignity” through physician-assisted suicide while following the final days of a few of the program’s patients. The provocative doc is well-timed for the Supreme Court of B.C.’s November hearing regarding similar right for Canadians.

Plays Monday October 10 @ 2:50pm, Empire Granville 7 Theatres

The Controversial Cut:

My Little Princess (France). I don’t even know where to begin with this one. It’s so wrong I’m almost surprised at myself for listing it here but it definitely stood out. Although described as fictional, the film tells a tale that is very well known to writer/director/actress/youngest ever Playboy pin-up Eva Ionesco: the story of a mother who takes erotic photos of her under-aged daughter and sells them. Disturbing to say the least.

Plays Saturday October 8 @ 11:40am and Sunday October 9 @ 9PM, Empire Granville 7 Theatres

The Animated Asian:

Japanese flick Tatsumi is a tribute to the creator of gekiga (dark and realistic manga for adults), Tatsumi Yoshihiro. Although manga was never my thing, the film promises to be “thrilling, moving, and very, very beautiful” (Tony Rayns – VIFF).  Just don’t let the fact that it’s animated trick you into bringing along your kids/nieces/nephews. For adult eyes only.

Plays Tuesday October 4 @9:30PM, Empire Granville 7 Theatres

(All images from Vancouver International Film Festival website)

Check out VIFF’s film guide for the full list of films. VIFF plays now through October 14.


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