A Lithuanian paramedic makes his own macabre fun (and some fast cash) by devising an office pool that allows his coworkers to bet on whether a patient will survive. As this dubious lark evolves into an Internet sensation, director Ignas Jonynas’ striking, inventive visuals plunge us into the morass enveloping our morally wounded anti-hero. Winner, Special Jury Prize, Warsaw 2013.
It’s Christmas in Bogotá and 10-year-old Eric has been sent to live with his impoverished handyman father. When a wealthy client takes pity on them, and invites them to stay at her family’s country villa over the holidays, tensions and discomfort soon begin to crackle, exposing the gap between Christian charity and the starker realities of the class structure. "An engrossing, sensitive and admirably nuanced social drama."—Hollywood Reporter
Looking for love (and hemoglobin) in the desolate streets of Iranian ghost town Bad City, a lonesome, alluring vampire (Sheila Vand) must also navigate the comically offbeat, unequivocally cool reality envisioned by director Ana Lily Amirpour. Channelling vintage Jarmusch and cranking the post-punk soundtrack to spellbinding effect, “Amirpour has crafted a beguiling, cryptic and often surprisingly funny look at personal desire.”—Indiewire
Singer and legendary guitarist Glen Campbell is so much more than just the purveyor of great tunes like "Wichita Lineman." When Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, director James Keach was given unfettered access to the singer during his farewell tour; the result is a remarkably musical testament to courage and determination that serves as the lead-in to VIFF’s "Gentle on My Mind" sidebar. Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Nashville 2014.
Populated by gorgeous misfits and propelled by effervescent pop songs, this jubilant musical from Belle & Sebastian lynchpin Stuart Murdoch comically depicts a critical juncture for three Glaswegians when it seems they’ve no other option than starting a band. “It’s warm and generous… Even non-believers will acknowledge the film’s utter sincerity… It means what it says.”—Guardian. Winner, Special Jury Prize: Ensemble Acting, Sundance 2014.
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
"Jean-Luc Godard’s 3-D opus, was easily [Cannes’] defining event… Less a culmination of the polyphonic mode that is Late Godard than an acceleration, the film is a furiously associative meditation on humanity and history, cinematic and linguistic meaning, the world of nature and the nature of reality—all refracted through fragmentary episodes involving an adulterous couple and dog’s-eye-view roamings through a light-streaked forest.”—Art Forum. Winner, Prix du Jury (ex aequo), Cannes 2014.
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
A hugely enjoyable black-and-white homage to the Nouvelle Vague set against 1999’s student demonstrations in Mexico City, Alonso Ruíz Palacios’ debut focuses on teenaged Tomás, his slacker older brother and their search for a folk-music icon who once made Bob Dylan cry… Playful and charming, it’s "full of life and related with intelligence and a sense of humour."—Slant. Special Jury Mention: Best New Narrative Director, Tribeca 2014.
A reggae-rhythmed feminist protest against men who idle while women do all the work. Featuring a woman whose face has been erased and a man who rules with his nose. Award for Excellence, Image Forum Festival 2014. Tony Rayns