On Our Radar: Vancouver International Film Festival

With its multi-tiered programming platforms (featuring the largest selection of East Asian films outside of the region), variety is the cinematic spice of life afforded by VIFF. This west coast fest will see more than 150,000 people entertained by upwards of 340 films from 70 countries. 

Though the closure of former film fest hub Granville’s Empire Theatre added a slight challenge to planning this year’s event, there are more than 10 dedicated theatres to meet theatregoers’ demands – with increased traffic expected in and around Gastown/Crosstown.

If you’re looking to source tickets, don’t wait too long (galas are already sold out). Multiple-screening passes are still available and are likely your best bet ($400 gets you into all festival and media screenings). Alternatively, packages of tickets can be purchased in blocks starting from 5 to 30 (prices range from $10 to $12 each).  

This year’s lineup of stellar talent is impressive, and we’re betting you’ll want to see more than a single show. We’ve compiled a few of our noteworthy picks worth checking out, so clear your schedule accordingly.

Nebraska (September 26th, 27th) sets the stage for the festival’s start and guarantees a chuckle. This film features Best Actor winner at Cannes Bruce Dern, who plays a rather cantankerous father who mistakenly ‘thinks’ he’s struck it rich via sweepstakes and coerces his son into taking an ill-fated road trip to claim false winnings. 

With its filmmaking roots in Montreal, be sure to catch young professional Chloé Robichaud’s debut screening of Sarah Prefers To Run. The film is a rather comedic take on the ups and downs of everyday life, illustrated by lead character and gifted runner Sophie, who cannot seem to navigate her way through romance despite her athletic prowess. Post-show bonus: meet Robichaud herself, who’ll be on hand speaking as part of a panel.  

If you’re a fan of Hollywood hot shots (and love Robin Williams), be sure to nab tickets to The Face of Love (also starring Annette Bening and Ed Harris). This complex, charming drama will pull at your heart’s strings as you watch a grieving widow fall haphazardly in love with a man who’s the spitting image of her late husband. Waterworks will potentially ensue.

Kick things up a cultural notch and catch Burning Bush (from Czech Republic). It’s an arresting epic docudrama done in three parts that examines the political, societal and emotional unrest from Czech student Jan Palach’s demonstration that took place in 1969.  The scrupulous details, character development and adherence to historical facts that led a protesting Palach to light himself on fire in the middle of Prague’s Wenceslas Square are riveting. A definite do-not-miss.

In addition to these suggested flicks, fans of hit series Breaking Bad can rejoice at the fact that series creator Vince Gilligan will be in town for an exclusive evening of his favourite episode followed by a Q&A period. It’s guaranteed to sell out (if it hasn’t already), and definitely worth noting.

For more details and to see a full line up of films being screened as part of VIFF, click here.

Photo courtesy Vancouver International Film Festival