Film Festival Series
Find Your Film
Use our search function below to sort the films by their English title, the names of directors, or their country of origin. Films can also be filtered by series, genre, or Vancouver International Film Festival venue. You can also browse by film series by visiting our Browse By Series page.
The majority of films in the Vancouver International Film Festival are unrated and you must be 18 and purchase a $2 VIFF membership to attend a screening. However, a selection of films are open to all ages.
Before you make your purchase, please note The Rio is 19+ exclusively with the exception of the rated High School Screenings at this venue.
Renowned Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden returns to VIFF with his stirring new feature about a shepherd named Tharlo. In town to procure a proper ID card, Tharlo has his hair washed by seductive hairdresser Yangtso and is instantly smitten. She urges him to trade his pastoral life for contemporary urban pleasures: smoking, drinking, singing karaoke. A passionate love story with darker stirrings, set amidst a Tibet in tension between tradition and modernity. Shelly Kraicer
Artist Qiu Jiongjiong’s brilliant fiction-documentary hybrid takes the story of Zhang Xianchi, a so-called “rightist” persecuted for his beliefs in 1960s China, and turns it into something extraordinary: filmed theatre-historical fantasy-social realist drama. Using stunning black-and-white photography, Zhang’s shocking story comes to life with first person testimony and vivid surreal tableaux. This is controversial political cinema and essential viewing. Shelly Kraicer
China, Japan, France
Jia returns to his own roots (disco dancing to the Pet Shop Boys!) in his masterly vision of China’s past, present and future. We start in 1999, with Shanxi belle Tao torn between two rival boyfriends. She opts for the more ambitious of the two, gets married and has a son… only to end up divorced and alone in 2014. Ten years later, in 2025, her son is a dislocated émigré in Australia. The heart of the film is a question: what lasts and what’s all too easily lost? Tony Rayns
Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela
In Ciro Guerra’s vibrant and wildly original feature, two explorers embark on parallel journeys—albeit 40 years apart—down the Colombian Amazon. Both are in search of a sacred flower with mythical healing powers. Both encounter a native shaman and his tales of colonialism’s devastating toll. As unlikely friendships take root, Ciro Guerra’s drama enwraps viewers in seductive visuals and alluring ethnographic details. “A soulful, strange and stunning discovery.”—Indiewire
Retired police profiler Ricardo passes his days mired in boredom, which is manifested in an ambiguous morality and a dark secret fetish.
Cuba, Germany, Argentina, Switzerland
Once the most ambitious undertaking in Cuban history, the Juragua nuclear reactor now sits abandoned. In its shadow is Nuclear City, where the plant’s would-be employees are left to contemplate the glory that might’ve been. Fuelled by the disappointments of three generations of disillusioned denizens, Carlos Quintela’s beautifully lensed but unflinchingly dark comedy intersperses archival footage and blends surrealism and social realism to depict a country locked in stasis.
Czech Republic, Slovak Republic
Appealing and affecting, Home Care is a humanist tale that puts a poignant spin on that perennial staple of Czech cinema, the village dramedy. When a selfless home-care nurse (Alena Mihulová) suddenly requires care herself, she, her family and patients must redefine their roles and relationships. Written and performed to perfection, Slávek Horák’s tragicomic film captures the details of small-town life through piquant observation. “Wryly humorous and bittersweet…”—Variety
In this enchanting Icelandic export, two estranged, unmarried brothers are reunited after 40 years when an infectious disease threatens to decimate their prized flocks of sheep. As they face financial ruin and emotional devastation (their love for these animals is endearingly evident), Grímur Hákonarson fashions a richly detailed tragicomedy concerning idiosyncratic vocations and immediately relatable sibling dynamics. “Wonderfully wry, charmingly understated…”—Variety
Afflicted by an aggressive motor neuron disease, Niels opts to die with dignity and asks his nurse, Maria, to escort him to a Swiss clinic. As they make the trek, Samanou Acheche Sahlstrøm crafts a bold drama that’s profoundly moving without ever feeling manipulative. There’s emotional ugliness lying in wait but it’s ultimately rendered beautiful by its honest insights. An undeniably important film, this is a “provocative query into what makes life worth living.”—Variety
A leader of the Egyptian independent film scene, Ahmad Abdalla (Microphone) gets a much bigger budget than usual to fashion this lustrous black-and-white homage to classical Egyptian cinema. Female production designer Maha (Horeya Farghaly) finds reality shifting when, instead of working on her current melodrama, she begins to live it… "Shades of Sirk, Cassavetes, Bergman and even Woody Allen can all be detected on the film’s glistening monochrome surface."—Variety
Egypt, France, Jordan, Netherlands, South Africa
A beautifully realized paean to art and democracy, set in Istanbul, Cairo, Beirut and Alexandria, François Verster’s ambitious, multilayered documentary combines the tale of Shahrazad (and the 1001 stories she tells) with many other stories of the modern Arab world. From the National Youth Orchestra in Istanbul, to a troupe of actors/storytellers in Cairo, to a lone tapestry artist (amongst many others), Verster’s profoundly secular-humanist work skips back and forth through time and space to weave its own striking tapestry about the modernizing force of art.
The zero-sum game that is the "law of the market" (the French title)—wherein if one wants a job another must be let go—lies at the heart of Stéphane Brizé’s profoundly humanist drama. Vincent Lindon is superb as an unemployed mechanic whose new job in security at a big-box supermarket forces him to make decisions that go against everything he believes in… "A powerfully affecting social drama… Lindon [gives] a veritable master class in understated humanism."—Variety
Every time Vincent dives into a lake, the introvert transforms into something uncanny, leaping like a dolphin and brandishing superhuman strength. If there were a villain to vanquish, he’d be a superhero. Instead, he’s left to wrestle with the very relatable fear of falling victim to persecution. “So persuasively does debut director-actor Thomas Salvador immerse the viewer in his imaginative world that it seduces entirely, in a silent comedy kind of way…”—Hollywood Reporter
What makes Angus Angus? What makes Kobe Kobe? Who’s got the world’s best beef? What’s the best way to cook it? Can we feel less guilty about consuming so much of it? What’s in the cow’s best interest? Are our interests, the cattle’s and the planet’s sustainability absolutely irreconcilable? We have the questions and Franck Ribière’s Steak (R)evolution has the revealing answers, including how the most humane raising of livestock results in the most delectable steak. "Vegetarians beware—this mouthwatering documentary may just about convert you.”—Hollywood Reporter
Alix Delaporte’s quietly affecting drama gives us 14-year-old Victor (a captivating Romain Paul) who lives in a trailer outside Montpellier with his very ill mother (Clotilde Hesme). Preparing him for life after she’s gone, she puts him in touch with the father he’s never known—an imposing orchestra conductor who’s just arrived in town to perform Mahler’s Sixth Symphony… "An intimate drama in which words play second fiddle to situations and images."—Hollywood Reporter
France, Poland, Romania
Anca Damian’s ambitious mixed-media animated docudrama is a work of overwhelming artistry. Presented as a dialogue between Adam Jacek Winkler—a Quixote-like Pole who fought with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets—and his daughter (who co-wrote the film with Damian), it evokes the powerful personality of an uncompromising individualist and true romantic who lived outside the law due to his love of independence. “Beautifully assembled…”—Hollywood Reporter
In Alice Winocour’s taut, beautifully controlled drama, an Afghanistan veteran prone to panic attacks (Rust and Bone’s Matthias Schoenaerts, indelible) is hired to protect a wealthy businessman’s wife (Diane Kruger) and child at their luxurious coastal estate. Are the dangers he detects real or are they just PTSD symptoms caused by his war-time experiences? "A pulsing, sexy thriller… Schoenaerts at this point should be certified as a genuine movie star."—Vanity Fair
France, Germany, Netherlands
June 1940: German troops march into Paris. Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and Count Franziskus Wolff Metternich (Benjamin Utzerat) work to protect the treasures of the Louvre Museum… This is just the jumping-off point for Russian master Alexander Sokurov’s (Russian Ark) gorgeously shot (by Amélie’s Bruno Delbonnel) exploration of the relationship between art, culture and power that traverses the centuries and demands to know what art tells us about ourselves.
France, Lithuania, Netherlands
A flight of fancy from Alanté Kavaïté, this dreamy, coming-of-age story focuses on 17-year-old Sangailé (Julija Steponaitytė), a young woman with a fascination for flying and a contradictory fear of the same. Until, that is, she meets the fearless Auste (Aistė Diržiūtė) and the two young women fall in love… Punctuated by a charmingly aestheticized eroticism that is entirely appropriate to this crisply told tale, Sangailé is a touching and deeply empathetic gem.
As Freudians will guess from the title, Phan’s stunning film has a lot to do with patriarchy and the penis. When Vietnam’s government offered cash incentives to fathers to undergo vasectomies, they didn’t expect that unmarried, fun-loving kids would sign up, just for pocket money. Student slacker Vu resists his father’s order to get married, but down which deviant paths will life take him? Tony Rayns