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Canada

The Best of Hot Docs

One billion people on our planet—one in six—live in shantytowns, slums or squats. Slums: Cities of Tomorrow challenges conventional thinking to propose that slums are in fact the solution, not the problem, to urban overcrowding.

"3/4: The film challenges the ingrained prejudice that leads many urban governments to withhold basic services from squatters and force them into apartment blocks." Globe and Mail

"A celebration of the perseverance and creativity of some of the poorest people in the world." Pretty Clever Films

Black History Month

Inspired by the collective experiences of Harriet Tubman and many Freedom Seekers who traveled to Canada through the Underground Railroad, Seth-Adrian Harris’s debut relates their journeys through Afro-modern dance, poetic realism, and the music of resilience and triumph performed by Canada’s national treasure, Jackie Richardson. Through a weaving of dream sequences, we are taken on a great voyage with a woman named Moses whose spiritual awakening becomes the beacon of Hope for all seekers on the quest for freedom.

Vancity Theatre Screening

Why is the history of American humour so inextricably tied to Jewish identity? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.

Black History Month

From the early 1900s to the 1960s, the East Side neighbourhood of Strathcona was home to Vancouver’s first and only black community.The ten video stories of the BlackStrathcona media project celebrate some of the remarkable people and places that made the community vibrant and unique.

Presented by Creative Cultural Collaborations Society in partnership with Vancouver Moving Theatre

IBFF 2013 Vancouver (International Buddhist Film Festival)

From the World Cup to the remote Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, three students are on a quest. The catch is…the teacher. Soccer-obsessed, charismatic filmmaker, and citizen of the world, Khyentse Norbu may be one of the most eminent Tibetan Buddhist teachers, but it’s a job description he slyly seems to reject at every turn.

"Provocative and surprisingly fast-moving." Ken Eisner, Georgia Straight

Vancity Theatre Screening

Two friends make a bet to see which of them can withstand a week of psychological torture at the hands of the other. What starts out as a bizarre but humourous reality TV scenario gradually spirals out of control.

Stress Position is an intelligent, thought-provoking film, which can only become increasingly relevant … the overall effect is a film you both want to see again because of its numerous admirable qualities, and never want to re-endure because the psychological tortures are so convincing and the verisimilitude too unnerving.” Alex Fitch, Electric Sheep Magazine

"A nearly flawless debut feature which jumps head first into psychological terror." Film Bizarro

"Stress Position is an attractive, inventive, creative film well worth seeing." David Jaffer, exlaim

Vancity Theatre Screening

Dark, delirious and made under the sign of Scorsese, Rhymes for Young Ghouls is the angriest, punkiest, least "Canadian" Canadian movie you’ll see all year, and an electrifying feature debut from writer-director Jeff Barnaby. "Weed princess" Aila (the sensational Kawennahere Devery Jacobs) is used to looking out for herself on the Red Crow res, but when her old man gets out from prison things only get harder…

"It’s a tough, gritty piece of work, long on the violence but invested with the poetic sensibility you find in a Cormac McCarthy novel or Tom Waits song… [It] marks the arrival of a genuine cinematic intelligence, one sensitive to life’s more intimate, tender, even spiritual moments yet not averse to slamming the sledgehammer as circumstances require."—James Adams, Globe and Mail

’Exhibiting a vivid eye for potent imagery and a striking sense of the downtrodden vitriol [Rhymes For Young Ghouls] is a tremendously rousing film that announces the arrival of an exciting new voice in Canadian cinema." Scott A Gray, exclaim

"It has been years, probably since Xavier Dolan emerged with I Killed My Mother, since a Canadian director has debuted with a movie as impressive as Jeff Barnaby and Rhymes for Young Ghouls." Marina Antunes, Row Three

Vancity Theatre Screening

In this dark, twisted BC mystery thriller, a man finds himself condemned to a special place in hell, blamed for his wife’s murder – a fact he refuses to accept. His punishment is to eternally re-live that last dreadful day - unless he can prove his innocence…?

Witches

A Canadian-made “porno chic” movie? It never happened! So historians say. But tonight’s screening proves otherwise as the never-released and unknown sexually-explicit [or: ‘X-rated’] horror-spoof Sexcula—-made entirely in British Columbia back in ’73—-screens in a World-Premiere of its original, unplayed 16mm answer-print. Produced with the help of Canadian film tax credits (that’s right—-taxpayers backed a porn movie—only in Canada!), Sexcula is one of the oddest entries in the colourful catalog of “Canuxploitation.”. Special guests to be announced.

Women in Film Festival
Vancity Theatre Screening

Presenting the true "behind the scenes" story of the rescue mission mythologized in last year’s Oscar-winner Argo - this time with due recognition of the pivotal role played by Canadian ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor.

"An intelligent, complex and tension-filled story that breathes life into historical events that are fast fading from our collective memory.

In doing so, the co-directors give Taylor (the diplomat) and many others their due and give Canadians at large a reason to feel rightly proud." Bruce DeMara, Toronto Star

Vancity Theatre Screening

A rebellious teenager (Tatiana Maslany, Grown Up Movie Star) forced to repeat her last year of high school is caught between adolescence and adulthood — and between two very different male admirers — in this charming and vibrant debut feature from writer-director Kate Melville.

“One of the smartest movies on youth I have seen since “Freaks & Geeks.” Jason Whyte, efilmcritic

 

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“Smartly written and directed by Kate Melville, Picture Day is a well-executed coming-of-age drama that distinguishes itself with its strong sense of its characters and their emotional universe.” Adam Cook, Filmmaker Magazine

“Engaging, funny and evokes all the beautiful awkwardness and confidence of being a teenager … Kate Melville has tapped into something very funny, real, and uniquely female … Tatiana Maslany absolutely steals the film as Claire … One of the best teen films this country’s ever produced.” Katarina Gligorijevic, Toronto Film Scene

(Tom à la ferme)
Vancity Theatre Screening

Dolan’s fourth feature is his most accomplished yet, a slippery, probing thriller with a Hitchcockian score by Gabriel Yared and enough tortuous psychological coupling and decoupling to make Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s head spin. As the eponymous Tom, Dolan comes to bury his lover at the farm where the latter grew up, only to find that the bereaved mother (Roy) knows nothing of her son’s sexuality - a lie that his brother is determined to keep up.

"In Quebec, no one can hear you scream… A tense, potent pleasure: imagine a Claude Chabrol thriller half-drunk on its own feints and seductions… By far his best film." Robbie Colin, Daily Telegraph

"Taut, creepy, compelling and sexy." Ben Walters, Time Out London

Vancity Theatre Screening

Last September Neil Young spoke for many when he likened Fort McMurray to Hiroshima, "a wasteland". Local inhabitants were outraged, and at least one radio station banned Young from its playlist. Vancouver filmmaker Charles Wilkinson (Peace Out) treads a middle-ground with Oil Sands Karaoke, a portrait of the tar sands capital which includes both sobering vistas of massive environmental upheaval and an affectionate, non-judgmental look at the folks who live and work there, mostly when they’re letting their hair down at Bailey’s karaoke bar.

"Surprisingly sensitive… poignant, and beautifully shot." Marsha Lederman, Globe & Mail

Vancity Theatre Screening

Are animals sentient beings, or are they property? Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur has made it her life’s work to challenge the widespread willful ignorance that allows animal abuse to carry on unchecked. For more than a decade she has documented animals held in captivity to supply our food, clothing, scientific research, or simply our entertainment. Her photos are sometimes heartbreaking, but also often unexpectedly beautiful, always soulful, and inspiring. The same could be said of Liz Marshall’s film, which gives a sense of the horrors humans inflict on animals, but also the immense spiritual bond which many of us naturally feel for other living beings.

"A superb example of committed fimmaking." 4 stars. Susan Cole, Now magazine

Music Mondays

Musicians these days have to tour to survive. That fact of life just became more problematic for SMZ violinist Jessica Moss and singer/guitarist Efrim Menuck with the arrival of baby Ezra. Their solution? Bring him along. Director Helene Klodawsky (Malls R Us) came too.

"It’s an immediate and engaging work that lets us share the weary rewards of doing what you love - even if you’re not sure you can make a living at it. 4 stars." Norm Wilner, NOW magazine

Olympia Dukakis gives an brilliant, barnstorming performance as a foul-mouthed lesbian, Stella, who isn’t about to let her lover of 31 years, Dot (Brenda Fricker), be carted off to an old folks’ home without a fight. Her plan? A daring rescue, followed by flight to Canada and marriage - an elopement. Ryan Doucette is the hitchhiker who helps them sneak over the border - the Brad Pitt to their septuagenarian Thelma and Louise.

Vancity Theatre Screening

Biologist and campaigner Alexandra Morton will introduce this special screening of this powerful BC expose about the impact of salmon farming and the lengths to which government will go to safeguard the industry at the expense of wild salmon - and, arguably, public health.

"EVEN IF YOU’VE read the news coverage about the effects of farmed salmon on B.C. wild salmon stocks, the strength of Twyla Roscovich’s documentary is not only how it amalgamates information about this contentious subject but also how it showcases biologist Alexandra Morton’s incredible tenacity and devotion. It’s as disturbing to see the visual evidence of dead and dying salmon—the keystone species essential to West Coast ecosystems—as much as it is to hear about attempts by federal government officials (who declined interviews) to muzzle and punish scientists (thereby also affecting journalists) who are trying to prove what is killing them. Also, if you chow down on salmon sashimi, this is one you’ll want to see before you take your next bite." Craig Takeuchi, Georgia Straight

"This feisty and provocative film is spoiling-for-a-fight cinema… Let the debate begin." Ian Bailey, The Globe and Mail

Vancity Theatre Screening

Summer war games between the neighbourhood kids turn deadly serious when jealousy and betrayal enter the mix, in this alternately hilarious and horrifying black comedy that mixes equal parts Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl.

"Sharp, funny and edge-of-your-seat chilling, this darkly provocative actioner, starring a startlingly stellar all-kid ensemble cast, turns a neighbourhood woods game of Capture the Flag into a high-stakes round of no-holds-barred jungle warfare – with the rules about to be broken. The fantasy-tinged film nails the ferocious intensity of children’s games (the imaginary world feels real in the moment) while it plays with cinema conventions (coming-of-age stories, war tales, etc). An after-school special you won’t want to miss." 4 stars Globe & Mail

"I Declare War is everthing The Hunger Games attempts to be, but better - it says more with less, goes farther while staying smaller, and finds reality in a more fantastical scenario… A Lord Of The Flies for a new generation, I Declare War deserves to be seen by adults and needs to be seen by kids. We don’t often get action films of any kind that have this much to say, much less films that are this delicately balanced between mainstream appeal and realistic intensity. Smart, touching, and exciting, I Declare War is sure to be one of your favorites of this year or next." Renn Brown, CHUD

Vancity Theatre Screening

Curated and presented by veteran CBC film critic Rick Staehling, this illustrated lecture examines the evolution of the opening sequence across a century of cinema history, from The Great Train Robbery in 1903 through Once Upon a Time in the West through to the stunning Children of Men and Seven (and many more).

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