The Great Divide
One of the hottest topics today is the growing divide between the haves and have-nots. Many films screening at VIFF address issues of social justice, politics and the dispossessed but here is a dynamite group chosen to illuminate just some of what rising inequality is bringing to our world.
Films in this Series
IT technician Hervé Falciani left his job at a Swiss branch of HSBC in 2008, taking with him a hard-drive containing a database of 130,000 bank accounts held by citizens from 180 countries. Ben Lewis’ comprehensive investigation explores in detail the fallout from Falciani’s actions, particularly the very slow progress being made by tax authorities in various countries to recoup the billions hidden in secret accounts…
Ben Wheatley’s bold adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel takes no prisoners. This scorching satire on class, hedonism and depravity in an imploding luxury apartment building is an even more apocalyptic class polemic than Snowpiercer. Throw in exquisitely unsettling turns from Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, a string quartet cover of ABBA’s 1975 hit “SOS,” an orgy or two and spice with cannibalism, and you have a tour de force of astonishing architectural ambition.
A bored housewife becomes a desperate one in Andrés Clariond Rangel’s sly slow-burn thriller. Dead of spirit after decades of upper-class leisure, Susana (Verónica Langer) finds her long-dormant passion rekindled by the arrival of a young new maid, Hilda (Adriana Paz). As her interest in the girl turns to obsession, an identity crisis gives way to more volatile behaviour. Rangel ensures that Susana’s shift from generosity to tyranny is chilling—and thrilling—to watch.
In Latin America’s largest landfill, a garbage picker uncovers the raw materials for makeshift musical instruments. As cellos and violins are fashioned from stray detritus, a group of local children are likewise transformed into the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura. Reminiscent of VIFF ’10 standout Waste Land, Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley’s documentary is an inspiring tale of resilience and transcendence. “A secret treasure… A story of the dull throb of existence gleefully recalibrated by the thundering heartbeat of music.”—Austin Chronicle
Based on a short story by Doris Lessing, Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s subtle, emotionally resonant drama about class and race looks at the life of the titular character (Guslagie Malanda, a revelation) in her roles as lover, mother and black woman in modern Paris. When the orphaned Victoria, age 8, is invited into a well-to-do (white) artsy couple’s bourgeois home, her view of the good life sets in motion a chain of events that will reverberate into her adulthood…
Altruistically abandoning her promising law career in order to teach the impoverished, socially conscious Paulina (Dolores Fonzi) finds herself horribly out of her depth in an Argentinean backwater. In the wake of a sexual assault, her convictions are tested and Santiago Mitre’s provocative drama is elevated into a complex examination of the emotional ramifications for victim, perpetrators and those who stood idly by. “Fonzi is riveting in a demanding role…”—Hollywood Reporter
Noam Chomsky and his unassailable arguments about how economic inequality has become an entrenched part of western life are front and centre in Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott’s superbly reasoned documentary, one part analysis and one part call to arms. The interviews with Chomsky were shot over four years and show that none of the 86-year-old’s fight has gone out of him. "This short, sharp, smart essay-film makes excellent use of Chomsky’s insights…"—Hollywood Reporter
While pilgrims flock to Varanasi to bathe in the Ganges, other visitors seek out the world’s finest silk. Having become part of the fabric of this ancient Hindu city over the course of a millennium, a Muslim weaving community now faces epochal change wrought by globalization. Charting a day in their lives, Pat Murphy’s documentary is an intimate look at an endangered tradition. “While rich with luscious shots of fabrics, dye and crumbling architecture, [the film] remains rigorous in its focus on the aesthetics and economics of this ancient industry.”—Irish Times
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
Anna Muylart has crafted one of the year’s biggest crowd pleasers! A cheerful São Paulo housekeeper (the wonderful Regina Case) finds her life—and the lives of the high class family she cares for—comically turned upside down when her estranged daughter (Camila Mardila) shows up and unleashes a welter of issues relating to class difference, infatuation, motherhood and privilege. "Beautifully written and acted with precision, this film’s a winner."—Hollywood Reporter
A man offers a significant sum of money to a worthy person in need who comes to his office on May 9 and makes a convincing appeal. But how to deal with the throngs of needy candidates who assemble? How does he decide who’s actually the most worthy? From a simple premise, Vahid Jalilvand employs formal finesse and unforgettably urgent performances (including the great Niki Karimi) to craft a profound study of human nature and social and economic realities.