Almost two decades after “Common People” dominated the UK charts, beloved Britpop stars Pulp return to their unlikely industrial hometown of Sheffield to play one last gig. Florian Habicht commemorates the occasion by sharing Jarvis Cocker’s musings (he equates fame to a nut allergy), high-concept vignettes (a seniors’ choir sings “Help the Aged”) and footage of the epochal concert. “The live performances are electrifying…”—Observer
As both Orange Juice frontman and a solo artist, Edwyn Collins had a way with words. Then, two debilitating strokes reduced his vocabulary to his wife’s name and the phrase “the possibilities are endless.” Documentarians James Hall and Edward Lovelace “immerse us in the experience… Their take on accident and recovery is romantic and terrifying, lush but insular. They dig beauty out of tragedy…”—Guardian
In a drought-ravaged Oregon of the near future, a teenage girl (Haley Lu Richardson) resourcefully defends her working well. Production designer Tom Hammock (You’re Next) seamlessly transitions to director, combining elements of gritty Westerns and post-apocalyptic thrillers into an immaculately realized, utterly nightmarish tale of survival. "The Well doesn’t need a gimmick—it’s as brutal and beautiful as genre flicks get…"—LA Weekly
Michael CF Hansen
Trained in photography in New York, Hayakawa put her filmmaking career on hiatus ten years ago. This excellent "comeback" film centres on the moment that a young woman (who has grown up thinking she’s an orphan) learns for the first time to see… and to start living. Tony Rayns
Hong Kong pop meets art in Heiward Mak’s latest feature, a rich, moving, dazzling, and deeply, sympathetically savvy look at the amorous and professional lives of six twenty-something Hong Kongers. Their complex, ambivalent lives play out over six years in fascinating, interlocking stories. Mak’s fiercely contemporary sensibility creates an essential snapshot of Hong Kong’s hopes, anxieties and pleasures today. Shelly Kraicer
A man visits his wife in hospital, and goes on a mental journey … a journey through space and time, involving much climbing, sudden death syndrome and a body swap. Tony Rayns
A cook working at a small mountain inn must deal with unexpected consequences when his first job as a hit man goes awry.
VIFF regular Hirabayashi turns his thoughts back to the 2011 tsunami with a brilliantly imagined sequence-shot journey. Tony Rayns
Yan, Simon, Roxanne, Maxime and his sister Lily are in their early 20s and absolutely anything seems possible. They’ve been friends forever and the future is bright. Then, on a lovely summer’s day, Yan dies in a car crash… Director Julie Hivon follows their desperate attempts to make some kind of sense of life without Yan.
Taking her cue from the ancient Japanese fable (beautifully animated here) of the wounded crane, nursed back to health by a peasant, that seeks to show her gratitude through a gift, Linda Hoaglund’s (ANPO: Art X War) deeply felt portrait of the animal-rescue movement shows how our relationship to our fellow creatures is evolving and benefitting not just the rescued animals, but the rescuers as well.
An African village is the stage for a story of oppression and hope.
Secreting us inside the storied Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Johannes Holzhausen’s unobtrusive documentary not only offers glimpses of works by Raphael, Rembrandt, Vermeer and Bruegel but also shares fascinating insights into the people and processes that ensure their preservation and continued cultural relevance. Thanks to Holzhausen, masterpieces are suddenly seen in a whole new light. “As all-enveloping and elegant as the establishment itself.”—Variety
Named after the coffee shop in which several key scenes are set, Hong Sangsoo’s latest centres on a Japanese man (Kase Ryu, Like Someone in Love) who fetches up in Seoul in search of a long-lost girlfriend. His amusingly awkward encounters with several other women and his landlady’s adult son make for Hong’s wittiest deconstruction of the rom-com in some time. Tony Rayns
Jason Lei Howden
In a world shrouded in darkness, a desperate man might risk everything to obtain light.
In need of cash for a lifesaving operation, a senior schemes to rig a bingo game.
Best known as the drummer for Vancouver-based We Are the City, Andrew Huculiak makes his directorial debut with this beautiful, atmospheric film shot in Norway and inspired by the band’s latest album. It stars newcomer Dagny Backer Johnsen as a young woman who, after enduring a catastrophic event, loses herself in memories of the people who loved her most.
Fresh from Venice, Ann Hui’s masterly new film tells the life story of China’s greatest modern woman writer Xiao Hong, brilliantly played by Tang Wei. In the background, Japan’s invasion of China in the 1930s. In the foreground, a woman in love with a feckless man, negotiating the sexual and political rivalries of her day with honesty, clarity and beauty. Tony Rayns