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Ger, Germany

Vancity Theatre Screening

Heavyweight German filmmaker von Trotta turns her attention to one of the pre-eminent thinkers of the twentieth century, Hannah Arendt, and in particular to the crucial time in 1961 when she reported on the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker. It was Eichmann’s pathetic disavowals of the Final Solution policy he helped frame that inspired Arendt to coin her famous phrase, "the banality of evil."

"Trotta has made an extremely vivid cinematic essay, thrilling in its every minute, deeply moving in its seriousness and suitably unsettling." Elke Schmitter, Der Spiegel

"A thrilling lesson in courage." Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

"The best movie this critic has ever seen about the life and times of a writer." Brandon Harris, Filmmaker

Germany, Switzerland

Vancity Theatre Screening

Arguably the most popular building site in the world, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona is a still a work in progress, 125 years after the first stones were laid. Designed by the controversial Catalan genius Antonio Gaudi, the Sagrada is a testament to Faith… Faith in God, in the natural forms that so inspired the architect, and also in man,for Gaudi always knew this work would have to be completed long after his life-time.

"This film is more than a documentary, it tells the story using beautiful and quiet images of the transformation of ideas, talks of human endeavour for perfection and in so doing, illustrates that the essential meaning of this edifice lies in its creation process and not only in its completion.

This creative process is illustrated in varying perspectives from inside the incomplete church as well as the complex structure of the exterior parts of the church.

The film gives cause for self-reflection on how the past and present are related, portraying people and destinies involved in the construction of the church and ultimately proves that something incomplete also has its own significance." Jury citation, Erasmus Euro Media Awards

"Both exhaustive and astounding in its detective-like exploration of the history of the impossibly ornate Catalonian house of worship." Jackson Scarlett, 7x7SF

Germany

Women in Film Festival
(Herz des Himmels, Herz der Erde)
After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador

The location of the world’s largest—possibly toxic—gold-mine pit, Guatemala is also the homeland of the Maya and their decidedly holistic cosmology. Frauke Sandig and Eric Black’s kaleidoscopically beautiful documentary follows the daily and ceremonial lives of six articulate young Maya as they struggle to maintain their way of life in the face of C21 capitalism.

"Of course one cannot simply reverse European history and the creation of the “Self”, which is also tied to liberation from the forces of nature. But one can empathize with a philosophy that does not separate the individual from nature. This different relationship to nature is better described with pictures than with words. Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth does exactly this, with clouds that glow from within, rivers with power one can sense, or mountains, which exude an inner peace. The camerawork creates settings that inspire fascination in a hitherto unknown world."

Peter Gutting, kino-zeit

"It is an exquisitely, achingly beautiful film – wonderfully conceived and sensitively filmed. I particularly appreciated the references to ancestral dreams and memories, sequences that ring truer than any film I’ve ever seen on Maya spirituality… The sequences on the war were particularly poignant. One of the communities I lived in for 6 months was completely wiped out—I still don’t know if anyone survived. It is my sincerest hope that some lived to tell their stories like the wonderful people in this film. What strikes me is the resilience of the Maya in the face of powerful and concerted efforts to destroy or alter it. I was profoundly affected by this film and will carry many of its images with me to the end of my days."

Allen J. Christenson, Author of Popul Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya

SPARK FX

Adapted from the myth that served as the basis for Wagner’s Ring cycle(though not an adaptation of the operas themselves), Lang’s two part, five-hour epic is a monumental fantasy film on a par with his subsequent Metropolis. Its extraordinary set-pieces, archetypal themes, and unrestrained ambition have proven an inspiration for nearly every fantasy cycle that has emerged on-screen since – from Star Wars to The Lord of the Rings.

This edition is mastered in HD from the extensive 35mm restoration conducted by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, completed in 2012, and featuring a recent recording of the original 1924 score. Screening in two parts with a 40 minute intermission.

"It’s too-faint praise to claim thatDie Nibelungen is The Lord of the Rings of its time (J.R.R. Tolkien was apparently inspired by the Nibelungenlied, too), but that gives you some sense of all the scope, innovation, rousing razzle-dazzle, human emotion writ large, and cinematic virtuosity on proud display here. It’s a huge, action-packed spectacle to rival those concocted by DeMille and Griffith, but with access to the bold, harsh, glacially-gleaming, tragically doomed finality of Northern-European myth. Once it’s over, you’ll be exhausted, emotionally drained, and already looking forward to the time you can experience the whole intensely involving, transporting, and devastating dream/nightmare once more." Christopher McQuain, DVD Talk

After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador

Guatemala. The war ended long ago. Though the people want to forget it, the violence continues, and it has spread throughout the society like cancer. Each day, journalists wait to report on the next murder victim, and a social worker helps the relatives of women who have been killed.

The global hunger for cheap resources has been another cause of violence, and a war over bananas has taken on a life of its own. The society suffers from the aftermath of the 36-year civil war. Mass graves are found in the mountains, former rebels mourn their comrades, and a war criminal has nightmares about all the things he’s done. Peace continues to elude Guatemala.

Vancity Theatre Screening

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

Vancity Theatre Screening

Few composers inspire such extremes of love and revulsion as Richard Wagner, and few classical music documentaries go the extremes of this astounding German-made feature, which includes stylized, modern-dress reenactments of key moments in Wagner’s tumultuous life and digital animated graphics alongside more traditional expert testimony.

Australia, Germany

Vancity Theatre Screening

Left to fend for themselves after their SS officer father and mother, staunch Nazi believers, are interred by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II, five German children undertake a harrowing journey that exposes them to the reality and consequences of their parents’ actions. Led by the eldest sibling, 14-year old Lore (striking newcomer Saskia Rosendahl), they set out on a journey across a devastated country to reach their grandmother in the north.

"A lyrical, deeply affecting study into a rarely seen legacy of the Holocaust." - Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter

"Intense and emotional. Saskia Rosendahl is mesmerizing." - Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

"Shortland’s brilliant new film is an unsettling coming-of-age story that renders its judgement on Germany’s crimes and strange aftermath of the war." - George Robinson, The Jewish Week

Guatemala, GB, USA

After Effects: Guatemala and El Salvador

A moving, thought-provoking and rare documentary by a Latin American woman, recording her return from exile and into the still dangerous and volatile political environment of contemporary Guatemala. Where over the course of four years, writer-director Ana Lucia Cuevas discovers, through the archived records of the perpetrators of the crimes themselves, the involvement of her own government and foreign Intelligence Services in the abduction, torture and murders of her brother and his young family.

"A powerful, personal story of state-sponsored terror in Guatemala and the lasting effects it has had on families, “The Echo of Pain of the Many” is a timely testament to the brave, untiring efforts of Guatemalans to demand justice and dent the country’s long-standing veil of impunity." Guatemala Solidarity Network

Hong Kong

(Sheng gang qi bing)
Foreign Spoils - Gangsters Abroad

Curated by photographer Greg Girard, who will introduce the films: House of Bamboo & Long Arm of the Law The Walled City of Kowloon was an amazing and forbidding part of Hong Kong, and who better to introduce these films in which it features so centrally than photographer Greg Girard, whose book City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City is itself now legendary.

LONG ARM OF THE LAW Regarded as one of the top ten Chinese films ever made, this electrifying thriller was at the forefront of the "heroic bloodshed" films that dominated the Hong Kong industry in the 1980s. The story concerns a group of mainlanders, ex army men, looking to make a big score in Hong Kong.

(Hon zin)
Hong Kong Spirit Films

This breathless, twisty Hong Kong cop thriller triumphed at the 32nd Hong Kong Film Awards, picking up nine statuettes including best film, best director, best screenplay and best actor (Tony Leung Ka Fai).

(Ji zhan)
Hong Kong Spirit Films

This mixed martial arts drama packs a real dramatic punch thanks to director Dante Lam’s sophisticated filmmaking and a powerhouse performance from star Nick Cheung.

"The storytelling artistry of Hong Kong helmer Dante Lam and Nick Cheung’s powerhouse performance make a raw and compelling experience out of this action-drama set in the world of mixed martial arts. While Lam never loses his grip on the action, he also beautifully modulates his characters’ turbulent ups and downs like musical movements, expressing the protagonist’s motto that fighting is all about setting your own rhythm." Maggie Lee, Variety

Hong Kong Spirit Films

Described as nothing less than "miraculous", this low budget HK dance film became a box office sensation last summer and newcomer Cherry Ngan became an overnight star.

"A cracking spectacle that showcases some of Hong Kong’s best street dancers" The Hollywood Reporter

"The choreography shows flashes of genuine inventiveness that will impress even those unfamiliar with the street dance scene." Twitch

"After all these years, we have finally found the new hope for Hong Kong cinema." Shu Kei

Hong Kong Spirit Films

Framed around the Swedish sojourn (1904-1908) of Kang Youwei (Liu Kai Chi), who famously revived the Confucian utopia Datong: The Great Society, the film traces the struggle of Kang, his daughter Tung Pih (Lindzay Chan), and his disciple Liang Qichao (Ben Yeung) to modernize China’s imperial monarchy.

"Exciting, inventive, bold, post-modern!" Ann Hui, filmmaker

India

Cinema Salon

Set in the 1920s in the palace of a noble Bengali whose passion is music and whose arch-enemy is a wealthy upstart, The Music Room reflects the conflict between the dying aristocracy and new money. Director Satyajit Ray is one of the greatest auteurs of international cinema. His film about those who dwell in the past and those who embrace the future is a magnificent tour de force. Introduced by Professor Scott Watson, head of the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, UBC.

Denmark, Indonesia

Vancity Theatre Screening

Probably the most radical and powerful film you will experience this year, The Act of Killing is a searing expose of political amnesia and impunity in Indonesia, where the gangsters and thugs behind the murders of millions are celebrated as champions of free enterprise. It is also a surreal, provocative exploration of the psyches of these men - killers who proudly re-enact their atrocities for the camera, willing collaborators in their own cinematic bonfire of the vanities.

Vancity Theatre Screening

Probably the most radical and powerful film you will experience this year, The Act of Killing is a searing expose of political amnesia and impunity in Indonesia, where the gangsters and thugs behind the murders of millions are celebrated as champions of free enterprise. It is also a surreal, provocative exploration of the psyches of these men - killers who proudly re-enact their atrocities for the camera, willing collaborators in their own cinematic bonfire of the vanities.

Vancity Theatre Screening

Probably the most radical and powerful film you will experience this year, The Act of Killing is a searing expose of political amnesia and impunity in Indonesia, where the gangsters and thugs behind the murders of millions are celebrated as champions of free enterprise. It is also a surreal, provocative exploration of the psyches of these men - killers who proudly re-enact their atrocities for the camera, willing collaborators in their own cinematic bonfire of the vanities.

"I have not seen a film as surreal, and frightening in at least a decade… Unprecedented in the history of cinema." Werner Herzog

Japan, France, Iran

Vancity Theatre Screening

The latest from master director Abbas Kiarostami (Certified Copy; Close Up; A Taste of Cherry) is a strange, seductive and beguiling love story set in modern Tokyo. Akiko is a beautiful student who moonlights as a prostitute, unbeknownst to her boyfriend. A liaison with an elderly academic brings all manner of complication to all their lives…

"Every shot — everything you see, and everything you don’t — imparts a disturbing and thrilling sense of discovery." AO Scott, New York Times

"A sly, teasing riff on the heart’s irrational stirrings… You emerge elated and slightly dazed…. But the movie’s sense of immutable desire resonates well after the lights have come up." Scott Foundas, Village Voice

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