In just 13 fixed shots, without dialogue, new director Yang Zhengfan creates a series of striking scenes set in southern China. Each one hints at a micro-story, some humorous, some tragic, others rich with symbolic meaning. Surrender to the film’s measured pace and prepare to be enthralled.
Vivian Qu’s remarkable debut feature cuts to the quick of China’s surveillance culture. The romance between a trainee surveyor and a woman scientist is suddenly derailed. Could it be because he also installs hidden cameras? Dragons & Tigers Award nominee.
A young Chinese woman plays with dirt and chocolate, and performs unspeakable acts on fancy shoes with a circular saw…
This Chinese experimental-fiction-documentary—poetic, quasi-plotless, adorned with groovy pop hits—dazzlingly combines ghost stories and “ruin porn” to form a celluloid psycho-collage. Wandering souls seek connections with one another and a lost collective history among the remnants of an abandoned Chinese oil town.
China, Hong Kong
Chinese indie documentarian Yang Lina’s first fiction film is unprecedented in Chinese cinema: a truly erotic depiction of female desire, shot from a woman’s point of view. After a mysterious ghost seduces a bored housewife, her psychological turmoil leads to a series of increasingly weird religious experiences.
Master director Jia Zhangke’s most popular film yet, this Cannes prize-winning drama shows China’s gangsters, massage parlours, vicious bosses and desperate workers drawn into a whirlwind of violence, passion and vengeance. This brilliantly achieved film is a vital state-of-China bulletin, torn straight from today’s bloody headlines. Winner, Best Screenplay, Cannes 2013.
Alba, 75, a native Colombian woman whose daughter became sick and was taken away from her as a young child, now returns constantly to those memories of their time together. A beautiful and powerful documentary about loss, heartbreak and stoic existence.
Thrusting us into the turmoil of the Colombian civil war, Juan Carlos Melo Guevara’s alternately gripping and gentle drama delivers a kaleidoscope of affecting storylines and well-drawn characters, including a compromised father desperate to instill strong values in his son. A tremendous cinematic achievement from a country whose films we rarely see.
Buying a gamecock with grand schemes of reaping the financial spoils, introverted Chalo instead discovers a new best friend. Chalo’s lack of bloodlust is mirrored by writer-director Neto Villalobos, who keeps the cockfighting off-screen and focuses his attention squarely on the deadpan comedy that arises from a relationship that’s neither fish nor fowl.
Alarmed by his parishioners’ fondness for birth control, an over-enthusiastic young priest sets about sabotaging the condom stocks in his tiny island diocese. As birthrates spike, the laughs follow suit in Vinko Brešan’s charming testament to the fact that sex and religion make fine comedic bedfellows. "Colourful, fun and breezy…"—Screen
Refused airplay, the nevertheless very popular Cuban protest rappers Los Aldeanos soldier on, playing secret shows island wide. Jesse Acevedo’s vital documentary offers incredible insight into Cuba now and is a testament to the power of both guerrilla filmmaking and underground music. Winner, Audience Award, Miami 2013.
Slovakia, Czech Republic
When an unwelcome guest crashes a wedding, his presence casts a pall over the fairytale occasion. Capping the trilogy that includes VIFF favourites Kawasaki’s Rose and Innocence, Jan Hřebejk crafts a compelling reminder of Faulkner’s assertion, "The past is never dead. It’s not even past." Winner, Best Director, Karlovy Vary 2013.
Here’s your only chance to see Agnieszka Holland’s epic three-part docudrama—made for HBO Europe—examining the emotional, political and societal fallout from Czech student Jan Palach’s 1969 self-immolation in Prague’s Wenceslas Square. A riveting thriller plot, complex characters and sumptuously re-created period detail make for "a master class in modern historical drama."—Indiewire.Special Event Price: $20.
Despite enviable accomplishments, Romany musician, activist and reporter Vojta Lavička still wrestles with self-destructive tendencies. Unfolding over 16 years, Helena Trestíková’s intimate documentary examines the lot of the Czech Republic’s marginalized Roma, while a sweeping Romany music soundtrack grabs your heartstrings and never loosens its grip.
Canada, Mexico, Denmark, Philippines
A famous American filmmaker (The Color Wheel director Alex Ross Perry) travels to the Yucatán to scout locations for his last movie. The Mayan Apocalypse intercedes. Raya Martin (Independencia) and Mark Peranson (Waiting for Sancho) co-direct.
UK, Denmark, Greenland
A truly memorable documentary about the cycles of life in the remote northwest coastal Greenland village of Niaqornat. The remaining 59 citizens, most of them Inuit, are on thin ice, their traditions jeopardized by climate change and the influence of the outside world. Sarah Gavron directed this "beautiful, austere movie."—Observer
Set against ancient glaciers, an old-fashioned schooner carries a merry band of scientists and artists (Daniel Richter and Tal R) to absolutely sublime arctic lands previously unvisited. Displaying a spirit of adventure and sense of the absurd, Daniel Dencik’s striking documentary takes us on "a sublimely idiosyncratic odyssey."—Maclean’s
Daniel, 16, is a huge long-jump talent who keeps setting records. But can his achievements really help keep his comatose mother alive?
Coffee is no match for a disintegrating personality.
Ecuador, Germany, Switzerland
Long a German resident, filmmaker Dario Aguirre gets called home to Ecuador to help save his father’s grill from bankruptcy. As the vegetarian son and meat-loving father circle each other warily amidst talk of spreadsheets and the advantages of wholesale, a humorous and deeply touching family odyssey emerges.