Adam (Richard E Grant) is a rich industrialist, who aspires to a more cultured world. Spurred on by playful jibes that he’s little more than a city suit living the capitalist’s dream, this frustrated amateur opera singer decides to throw an opera in his lavish country retreat. Once his friends see him belting out the notes, he feels sure it will spell the end to their shallow taunts. In fact, it might even help him win the hand of a female conductor he’s been pursuing whom, it just so happens, is the first to be recruited for his showpiece.
Based on Arthur C Clarke’s short story ‘The Sentinel’, 2001: A Space Odyssey redefined the sci-fi genre. With its radical structure (a single cut elides 4 million years), scant dialogue and oblique narrative this was the first movie to emulate the philosophical seriousness of writers like Clarke and Philip K Dick, and the first to see that special effects could become an integral component in the art-form.
"[A] rigorous and moving work of art." - A. O. Scott, New York Times
7 Up turns 8. That is, Michael Apted’s famous life-long chronicle - which began nearly 50 years ago, when the documentary subjects were just 7 years old - is back for its eighth seven-year check up. The results promise to be as fascinating as always, as the 56-year-olds reflect on life’s ups and downs, what is most precious to them, and their mixed feelings about the series itself.
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
In 1991, Anita Hill’s powerful testimony at the confirmation hearings for then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas brought sexual harassment into America’s national spotlight. Twenty years later, Ms. Hill revisits those hearings and for the first time on film speaks about the gruelling nine-hour experience of confronting an all-white male jury who demonstrated little sensitivity towards sexual harassment. A sometimes painful and shocking look back, she reflects on how that testimony shaped her life and the gender politics of a generation.
"Enthralling and revealing… Intelligent and comprehensive." Duane Byrge, Hollywood Reporter
Composer Tan Dun (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) contributes a lovely score to this visually dazzling Tang dynasty court intrigue starring Zhang Ziyi and Ge You (Farewell My Concubine). Mixing extraordinary pageantry with passionate, balletic martial arts sequences choreographed by the great Yuen Wo-ping, The Banquet is a sexed up Hamlet, a thrilling aesthetic experience in the tradition of Hero and House of the Flying Daggers.
"Highly entertaining costume melodrama on a magnificent canvas." Sean Axmaker, MSN
"Stunningly beautiful." Philip French, The Observer
"As eye-opening as it is thought-provoking… Brings new life to a classic… A true work of art." Bill Gibron, Pop Matters
A new female doctor arrives at a provincial hospital in what is still East Germany. Barbara (Petzold’s regular star, Nina Hoss) is a transfer from Berlin, and immediately strikes her colleagues as distant and aloof. But there are reasons, as they suspect. Her small apartment is regularly searched, meanwhile her preference for cycling to and from work seems designed to make it more difficult for the Stasi to keep an eye on her…
"It’s one terrific film, as smart, thoughtful and emotionally involving as just about anything that’s out there." Kenneth Turan, LA Times
"Petzold handles personal, formal, and political concerns in such perfect balance, it’s difficult, and not especially desirable, to separate one from the next. The movie is dense but never feels it, assembled with easy mastery and engrossing throughout." Sam Adams, AV Club
"Barbara is a film about the old Germany from one of the best directors working in the new: Christian Petzold. For more than a decade Mr. Petzold has been making his mark on the international cinema scene with smart, tense films that resemble psychological thrillers, but are distinguished by their strange story turns, moral thorns, visual beauty and filmmaking intelligence." Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Beauty Is Embarrassing is a funny, irreverent, joyful and inspiring documentary featuring the life and current times of one of America’s most important artists, Wayne White. "One of the most pleasurable moviegoing experiences I’ve had this year." Leonard Maltin
"One of the most pleasurable moviegoing experiences I’ve had this year." Leonard Maltin
"White is such a hysterically funny, wacky and weird guy that the documentarian need only train his camera upon him in order to make it entertaining. It is a genuinely hilarious film, but it’s funny because of the pathos too, the sadness in White that makes him want to live everyday to its fullest, to make a silly puppet because it’s fun, and why not today?" Katie Walsh, The Playlist
"This movie ought to be required viewing, not just for Oscar voters but for every aspiring artist wondering how to build a life doing what they love. Beauty is Embarrassing isn’t simply a testament to the talents of Wayne White; it’s a snapshot of the ways in which creativity and the business of daily living can be inseparably fused." Elina Shatkin, LA Magazine
The latest from 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days director Mungiu is a slow burning but utterly transfixing exorcism drama based on a news story from 2005. A novice nun in an Orthodox monastery in Romania, Voichita welcomes an old friend from their days in the orphanage - but she is taken aback when Alina tries to persuade to come away to Germany. Meanwhile the monastery’s stern priest becomes convinced Alina is a temptress possessed by the Devil.
"A quintessentially praiseworthy festival film: weighty in intent, unfamiliar enough in setting, rigorously masterful in execution… But what is remarkable about Beyond the Hills and the unexpected interrogations it awakens is the lingering sense of doubt it leaves you with. Not merely as to the virtues of organized religion—that would be too simple—but just as much the facile condemnation of it… It is a work that forces you into the not entirely pleasant yet oddly rewarding territory of moral uncertainty."—Joumane Chahine, Film Comment
"If you long for the bleak intelligence of an Ingmar Bergman film, where humankind is deeply flawed and God is indifferently silent and the landscape is cloaked in perpetual winter, then Beyond the Hills promises to be your cup of despair." 3 stars Rick Groen, Globe & Mail
"Riveting to watch and fascinating to think about afterwards." Philip French, The Observer
The third film in Micha X Peled’s Globalization trilogy (following Store Wars and China Blue) Bitter Seeds looks at the raw materials that feed our cycle of over-consumption, and specifically Monsanto’s push to supply cotton seeds to farmers in India - with devastating results. A staggering 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide over the past 16 years
"The crisis depicted in Bitter Seeds is all the more dire when you consider that half the world’s population are farmers. Peled could have turned his cameras… to any place that industrial agriculture has driven out the little guys. One reason the tiny Indian community of Telung Takli makes sense is Amberwar—a compelling central character whose personal story raises additional issues about gender, class and non-farming employment opportunities." Peter Debruge, Variety
“Films like this can change the world.” Alice Waters
“A tragedy for our times, beautifully told, deeply disturbing.” Michael Pollan
Filmmaker Micha X Peled is our guest to introduce specific screenings and participate in a FREE panel discussion exploring these issues on Sunday May 19, 8.30pm.
The panel will be moderated by Charlie Smith, Editor of the Georgia Straight.
Tzeporah Berman, Environmental activist and author of This Crazy Time, . Considered "Canada's Queen of Green."-Readers Digest, Tzeporah Berman has been successfully designing and managing green campaigns for nonprofits for the last two decades, leading Bill McKibben to call her "a modern environmental hero." She currently works as a strategic advisor for dozens of environmental organizations, First Nations and philanthropic advisors on clean energy, oilsands and pipelines. She is the former co-director of Greenpeace International's Global Climate and Energy Program, Executive Director and Co-founder of PowerUp Canadaand Co-founder and Campaign Director of ForestEthics.
Gerardo Otero is Professor of sociology and an associated professor of the School of International Studies at Simon Fraser University. His latest edited book is Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America (University of Texas Press, 2008, reissued in paperback in 2010), which is forthcoming in Spanish as La dieta neoliberal. His latest article, “The Neoliberal Food Regime in Latin America,” was published in the Canadian Journal of Development Studies in 2012. In co-authorship with Gabriela Pechlaner and Efe Can Gürcan, he has a forthcoming article September 2013 in Rural Sociology: “The political economy of ‘food security’ and trade: uneven and combined dependency.”
Micha X Peled has made documentaries for broadcasters in the USA, Britain, France and Germany, winning over 20 awards along the way. His films were released theatrically in the U.S., Europe and Japan, and on DVDs in eight languages (officially). Micha made his first film in 1992, when his mother sent him the manuscript of her life story, which became Will My Mother Go Back to Berlin? When celebrated Los Angeles Times critic Charles Champlin wrote “it’s a damn good movie,” Micha believed him, quit his job to become a fulltime filmmaker, and never looked back. Not that it was all smelling the roses – he got out of Iran shortly before being exposed for filming illegally, in China his crew was arrested and his footage confiscated, and his shoot in Bombay’s central train station was cancelled when a terrorist group started shooting first. In New York the audience shouted, “Traitor” at the premier of You, Me, Jerusalem, which he co-directed with a Palestinian filmmaker. His Globalization Trilogy began in the U.S. with Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town about a small town fighting to keep out the world’s largest retailer. It was followed by China Blue, the story of a teenage Chinese girl who leaves her village to get a job in a jeans factory and descends into sweatshop hell. After a fiction short, Delinquent, he completed the final film in the trilogy, Bitter Seeds. The film looks at the farmers' suicide crisis in India, through the story of one farmer who grows cotton exported to China's garment factories.
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
Perhaps you remember Tilikum? The killer whale was a star attraction at Oak Bay, British Columbia’s Sealand of the Pacific park from 1983 to 1992 - when he was shipped out to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. The sale took place shortly after the tragic death of a trainer, Keltie Byrne, who slipped and fell into the pool. Although Tilikum was officially exonerated from the death, eye-witnesses tell a very different story. And as filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite discovered, this was not to be the last human death associated with the bull orca.
"Blackfish has the capacity to stand the test of time as a gripping documentary synonymous with changing the way people see both killer whales and the multi-billion dollar industry that continues to exploit killer whales as playful tourist attractions" Daniel Pratt, exclaim
"A mesmerizing psychological thriller with a bruised and battered killer whale at its center." Variety
"Has the potential to take our society on the first step in the right direction." Alex Koehne, Twitch
In this brilliant retake on the Grimm fairytale, Blancanieves (Snow White) escapes her wicked stepmother to become a famous matador. Propelled by the Flamenco rhythms of Alfonso de Villalonga’s score, this is one tribute to silent film that has the verve and passion of a musical.
“This film is a wonderment! A striking… full-bodied, visually stunning film.” Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“An original! Inventive… Contemporary… Imaginative… Charming… and Clever!” David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“Daringly original! A gorgeously shot extravaganza has the cojones to think outside the box and comes out on top.” Boyd Van Hoeij, indiewire
Opening Night supported by First Weekend Club. Come early to enjoy a reception, Siobhan Devine's Vancouver-made short film OMG (starring Gabrille Rose and Matreya Fedor, and a post screening Q&A with director Sean Garrity.
At 41, Nicole is at a point in her life when she is asking is this all there is - or whether she still has more to offer? One day she gets a letter from an anonymous observer who seems to know her daily habits intimately. More than that - he seems to intuit a potential Nicole herself has buried deep inside. He has a plan for her, if she is interested… And so begins a dance that is by turns adventurous, romantic, erotic, reckless and potentially disastrous.
“The plot will creep under your skin and raise your pulse.”
Chris Knight, The National Post
"Tightly crafted… very gripping with a fabulous performance by Michelle Giroux." Brian D Johnson, City TV
“Garrity fashions something tense, steely, and affecting out of a premise that might’ve yielded an erotic fantasy if the events here weren’t so rooted.” Jason Anderson, The Grid
In 2008, Canadian music icon Bruce Cockburn set out on tour to make a live solo album, “Slice ‘o’ Life”. Cameras followed the man whose legacy includes songs like Wondering Where the Lions Are, If I Had a Rocket Launcher, and If A Tree Falls, as he performed to sold-out crowds in benefit concerts across North America. The filmmakers also followed Bruce to his home for candid conversations about his views on topics from religion to new parenthood. Featuring Romeo Dallaire, Sarah Harmer, and Michael Ondaatje.
Filmed in a documentary style in Rome’s high security Rebibbia prison, the movie chronicles a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar performed by the inmates just a few miles from where the Roman emperor was assassinated. The actors are real life murderers, mafiosi and drug dealers, and their performances slip subtly between Shakespeare’s text and their own contemporary argot, blurring the lines (literally) between past and present, art and life… But complicating things even further, the Tavianis scripted everything, off-stage as well as on, so what we take for "reality" is every bit as artificial as the play itself - and just as true.
Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” usually runs about two-and-a-half hours uncut. Italian directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s tale of a prison-based production of the classic runs 74 minutes. Yet the film gets on screen not only the play’s bloody, double-dealing, hungry essence, but the redemptive potential of art […] Such is literature’s power that the cast is more at ease portraying ancient Romans than speaking as versions of themselves. Muses the man playing Julius Caesar, “To think I found this so boring in school.” Farrah Smith Nehme, New York Post
"At once ancient and dangerously new." Anthony Lane, New Yorker
This wildly funny and original Vancouver satire focusses on a corrupt local politician with a strange neural complaint: he believes he’s the subject of a reality TV show (even though no one else can see the cameraman who dogs his every move).
“"Movies about movies" are tricky ground, but there are very few missteps here. The humor is pitch black, and had me laughing constantly.” —Zack Mosely, Quiet Earth
Celia Cruz brought the sound of salsa to the whole world. She erupted onto the Cuban music scene as the front woman of ‘La Sonora Matancera’, and soon became Cuba’s most adored. Her trademarks cry ‘Azúcar’ became known across Latin America. And when she fled Castro’s Cuba in 1960 and eventually arrived in the United States, she started a second even more successful career fueled by her partnerships with salsa greats Tito Puente, Willie Colon, and Johnny Pacheco.
Filmed inside the war zone of northern Uganda over a period of three years, this is the story of a group of former child soldiers as they undergo trauma therapy and emotional healing while in a rehabilitation centre. Having been abducted from their homes and forced to become fighters by the Lord’s Resistance Army - a quasi religious militia led by self-proclaimed prophet and war criminal Joseph Kony - the children struggle to confront years of brutal abuse.
The great Argentinean actor Ricardo Darin (The Secret In Their Eyes) stars as a taciturn hardware storekeeper, Roberto, who takes pity on a newly-arrived Chinese immigrant, dumped on the side of the road by an unscrupulous taxi driver. No good deed goes unpunished, and Roberto’s solitary life is turned upside down.
"This is a gem of a film that once seen, will never be forgotten." Louise Keller, Urban Cinefile
"It is hardly possible to suggest how involving this story becomes… To a degree unusual in most films, I became involved in the fates of these men…I cared." 4 stars, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"A Spanish Amelie… Delightful… that rare gem." Adam Fresco, Flicks