Notable Films to Catch at VIFF 2011

The 30th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival has just begun, and if you haven’t scored one of the last few tickets for Friday night’s Red Carpet Event at Canvas Lounge that we told you about in our Weekender, no worries. There are still plenty of notable ways you can partake in the cinematic celebration. (On now until October 14th.) Here’s a quick rundown of some top-notch screenings we think you should check out…

The Girls in the Band (USA)
Touted as a festival ‘must-see,’ this documentary by director Judy Chaikin reveals the startling history of female jazz musicians and all-woman bebop big band music circa the 1940s. This stunningly inspirational film sheds light on incredibly talented musical pioneers who boasted plenty of sound and spirit in an era filled with challenges.

Animal Control (Canada)
We think you should meet Larry, the eccentric amateur taxidermist whose only companions are the animals he’s stuffed. That is, until he has a revelation of sorts upon ‘meeting’ nearly-dead dog, Sammy. Watch this cleverly-told story (directed by Kire Paputts) in only 17 minutes and you’ll see why it’s won such high-praise on the world’s Film Fest circuits so far.

Apuda (China)
This 2011 Grand Prize Winner at the Yunfest Documentary Film Festival offers viewers a gorgeous glimpse into a world steeped in tradition, brought to life by director He Yuan’s meditative portrait of a Naxi minority orchard farmer and woodsman as he cares for his dying father. Though slow-moving and long, this doc is definitely worth it. Part character portrait and part poetic triumph, it will draw you into another world and leave you feeling attached to the subjects.

Crazy Horse (USA/FRANCE)
Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman explores the underbelly of the extremely competitive world of Parisian dance. Wiseman brings to life the gruelling everyday lives of a group of dancers, offering up an entertaining peek into their ongoing trials and tribulations as they endure a relentless schedule of practices leading up to the debut of Désirs, a new show at the world’s greatest and most chic nude cabaret club.

Patience (After Sebald) (United Kingdom)
Grant Gee’s much anticipated essay-style film weaves its story from a rich tapestry that combines art, history, landscape, life and loss. This touching new film by Gee explores the life of internationally acclaimed author W.G. Sebald via a walk through East Anglia exploring the basis for his influential book, The Rings of Saturn.

Benda Bilili! (France)
Expect to be unbelievably moved and inspired by this flick that chronicles the rehabilitation and creation of a band comprised of formerly homeless, paraplegic street musicians from Kinshasa in the Congo. This amazing story ends with their much-deserved European success through the telling of their amazing tales. Simply put, in the words of one reviewer, Benda Bilili! is “the the noise of the discarded: picked up, brushed down and made precious again.” – The Observer

Arthur (USA)
This notable short film packs a serious cinematic punch that calls to mind the underlying darkness, issues of dominance, and gothic imagery that abounds in the original King Arthur. This time around, these themes are explored within the realm of a young boy’s knightly fantasy as he sets out to slay his ‘monster’ in order to protect a fair maiden. The clincher: his reality becomes more dangerous and shocking.

Carol Channing: Larger Than Life (USA)
We’d be remiss not to urge you to see this charming celebration of one of Broadway’s last authentic stars. A bonbon for buffs of all things Broadway, this documentary calls worthy attention to Carol Channing’s seven decades-long musical comedic star.

For ticket info and full schedule, click here, and gear up for some serious screen-time.