Argentina, Spain, Brazil
The 12-year-old son of political dissidents fighting the brutal military junta in 1970s Argentina, Juan goes to school under an assumed name and gets his first crush on a girl. But when his parents suddenly need to pack up and run his life is changed forever.
"Most coming-of-age movies don’t open with the prepubescent protagonist’s mom and dad getting into a cartoon gunfight in the street—then again, there are lots of unusual touches in Argentine filmmaker Benjamin Ávila’s feature. Blessed with old-school pedigree (producer Luis Puenzo made the Oscar-winner The Official Story) This ’70s-set story of a boy (Teo Gutiérrez Romero) and his exiled revolutionary parents returning home on the sly follows a well-trod path of viewing history through a child’s eyes. But the way the director throws in offbeat elements—animation, a Moonrise Kingdom–ish interlude in the woods, surreal dream sequences—without diluting the Dirty War drama is impressive." David Fear, Time Out New York
"A charming, involving first feature, Clandestine Childhood muscles its familiar coming-of-age material into something more vibrant and urgent than the usual. Through sharp editing and director Benjamín Ávila’s moment-making brio, this ’70s period piece charts a young boy’s attempts to carve out something like a childhood despite being the son of wanted revolutionaries in the Argentina of General Jorge Rafael Videla, whose brutal government "disappeared" millions just like them." Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
By turns moving and funny, Ignacio Ferreras’ animated tale of two elderly men who become friends at a care facility for the aged is based on Paco Roca’s multiple award-winning graphic novel of the same name. Combining an honestly come by poignancy with bursts of caustic humour, this is an extraordinarily involving work for adults that earns it laughs even as it generates a profound sympathy for the unforgettable Emilio and Miguel.
"It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking. It’s brilliant."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"One of the most accomplished Spanish films, from any genre, of recent years." Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter
"Wrinkles, an exceptional comic book, an outstanding film"
Gregorio Belinchón, El Pais
Vancouver’s Funerary Call performs a new, specially commissioned live score for this mind-blowing 1922 cult classic. Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns and a satanic Sabbath are just a few of the ingredients that make up Benjamin Christensen’s witches’ brew of superstition, sorcery, surrealism and enlightenment.
"A unique film for its boldness in dealing with its taboo subject, for its amazing visual inventiveness, and also for its complex structure." Fernando Martin Pena, Defining Moments in Movies
"A truly unique work that still holds the power to unnerve even in today’s jaded era." Jyotsna Kapur, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
"An amazing experience. The film is overflowing with dark fairytale imagery, incredible makeup effects (especially Christensen himself in the role of a leering Lucifer) and shocking portrayals of torture that still make viewers cringe over 90 years later." Gregory Burkart, Fearnet.com
Thai-English director Tom Waller takes on one of the popular Father Ananda mystery novels. Former cop Ananda is now a senior monk and is asked by the abbot to solve a murder inside his monastery because the police don’t want to get involved. Not everything in the monastery is what it should be…
A mysterious and engaging journey through sound, song, story, ritual, performance, nature, tradition and Japanese Buddhism… A fearless merging of medieval and modern, beautifully filmed with a variety of cinematic techniques on location in Japan. “Kanzeon” is another way of saying Kannon (Chinese: Kuanyin), the embodiment of compassion, and can also be written in Japanese as “to see sounds.”
"Stunning to look at… mesmerising musical sequences”
Frances Morgan, Sight and Sound
"A stunning new British documentary.”
Jasper Sharp, Midnight Eye
In 2008, 18 climbers from a party of 24 reached the summit of the world’s second highest mountain, the treacherous K2. 48 hours later, 11 were dead, or had simply vanished. What happened? Nick Ryan weaves together found footage, eerie reenactments and interviews with survivors to try and solve this tragic mystery.
"Riveting. Gripping. Thrilling." Indiewire
"A gripping cliffhanger. A heart-throbbing experience." Hollywood Reporter
Lola in LA, Demy’s first (and only) Hollywood movie improves with age. Gary Lockwood is the aimless young architect who falls under the spell of a French photographic model (Anouk Aimee). "A marvel of tone and decor…forges the impossible bridge between Quentin Tarantino’s in-jokey cinematic universe of intertwined characters and events, and the recently-completed Before trilogy of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke." Next Projection
"A marvel of tone and decor…forges the impossible bridge between Quentin Tarantino’s in-jokey cinematic universe of intertwined characters and events, and the recently-completed Before trilogy of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke." Next Projection
"One of the great movies about LA." Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide
40 years ago, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist redefined screen terror with its slow but atmospheric build up mounting to a sustained crescendo of graphic, visceral horror. Audiences had never seen special effects like these before, and reacted with panic and revulsion - as if Satan himself was at loose in this film.
"A credible portrait of the modern, urban world ripped apart by an obscene, ancient evil… the graphic desecration of everything considered wholesome and good about the fading American Dream - the home, the family, the church, and, most shockingly, the child." Mark Kermode
After Tiller intimately explores the highly controversial subject of third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of practitioner Dr. George Tiller. The procedure is now performed by only four doctors in the United States, all former colleagues of Dr. Tiller, who risk their lives every day in the name of their unwavering commitment toward their patients. An informative, thought-provoking, and compassionate look at an incendiary topic.
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
How does a poor, single, African-American mother from segregated 1950s America wind up as one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves? Stylish recreations, an extensive archive and candid interviews reveal how "Diamond Doris" managed to jet-set her way into any Cartier or Tiffany’s from Monte Carlo to Japan and walk out with small fortunes.
"Unsurprisingly, Payne’s life story is currently set to be made into a film starring Halle Berry, who has her work cut out for her if she’s going to inhabit the devilishly charming Miss Doris Payne, international criminal." Scott A Gray, exclaim
"4 stars, Must See!" Now magazine
“Is The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne Essential Hot Docs Viewing? Absolutely. You won’t find a more charming, befuddling subject of a film at this year’s fest.” Kristal Cooper, Toronto Film Scene
Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Conceived as a guided meditation on the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, Samsara is audiovisual poetry. Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and brilliantly shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders. From the filmmakers of Baraka.
A beautifully structured and photographed film, John Turturro’s rapturous Passione offers a vibrant exploration and celebration of Neapolitan music in all its grit and glory, presenting 23 musical numbers that encompass a millennium’s worth of influences.
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
A mythic, mysterious and sensuous romantic thriller, this long-anticipated second feature confirms writer-director Carruth (the award-winning Primer) as one of the most strikingly original voices in American cinema. After a vicious robbery, a man and woman are drawn together, unknowingly entangled in the lifecycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to find a place of safety and to create something from the loose fragments of their wrecked lives.
"Having the movie wash over me was one of the transcendent experiences of my moviegoing life… It’s utterly perplexing, and heart-stoppingly beautiful, quite literally overwhelming." Sam Adams, The Onion AV Club
“Bold, impassioned, ecstatically beautiful…in a class by itself at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.” Scott Foundas, Village Voice
"Upstream Colors certainly is something to see if you’re into brilliant technique, expressive editing, oblique storytelling, obscuritanist speculative fiction or discovering a significant new actress." Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
Chogyam Trungpa, renowned Tibetan Buddhist leader, shattered notions about how an enlightened teacher should behave when he renounced his monk’s vows & eloped with a sixteen year-old aristocrat. Twenty years after his death, Trungpa’s name still evokes admiration and outrage. What made him tick? And just what is enlightenment, anyway?
If you think Amour was too sentimental, then this extraordinary documentary from Brian Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky (Frances) is just what you crave: the filmmakers spent years visiting a nursing home, charting the progress of senility, dementia, and of course death among the residents. All this narrated with bleak, wrily philosophical humor by one of their number. The film is not journalistic, but poetic, a "dirge", in the words of the filmmakers - and one you will not forget in a hurry.
"The Patron Saints was the single best film I saw during the festival run of Putty Hill." - Matt Porterfield
"Mainly, this observational realism serves the filmmakers exceedingly well, creating a humane, almost elegiac atmosphere, with occasional flashes of black humour, all of it heightened by a soundtrack of choral music that culminates in Arvo Part’s ethereal version of My Heart’s in the Highlands." Kate Taylor, Globe & Mail
"Bleak, moving, expressionistic." NOW magazine
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
In 1968, homosexuality was illegal in NYC. Gay bars were dark, dirty, dangerous and mostly controlled by the syndicate. But then along came Steve Ostrow, opera singer and entrepreneur, with a grand vision. From the minute Ostrow opened the elegant Continental Bath and Health Club in the legendary Ansonia Hotel, it was a beacon for the hip, the beautiful and the infamous. With a cabaret stage featuring red hot performers like Bette Midler and Labelle, straight high society, celebs and hunky men in towels jammed into the same room, bringing gays into the open and ultimately playing a critical role in overturning anti-gay laws.
"Documentary gold. 4 stars." Glenn Sumi, Now magazine
"Intimate and fascinating… a slice of social and pop history that demands to be consumed." David Voigt, Examiner
"It’s a great story made even greater by Malcolm Ingram’s first-rate feature." Greg Klymkiw.
When doctors diagnosed 19-year-old rock star Jason Becker with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, they said he would never make music again and that he wouldn’t live to see his 25th birthday. 22 years later, without the ability to move or to speak, Jason is alive and making music with his eyes.
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet is a feature-length documentary film that tells the incredible story of a guitar legend who refuses to give up on his dream of being a musician despite the most incredible odds. It is a story of dreams, love, and the strength of the human spirit.
"This heartfelt documentary is also, more subtly, a tribute to the squadron of caregivers that has enabled Mr. Becker not only to survive for an extraordinarily long time but also to continue to compose music, using virtually the only part of him that still moves, his eyes." Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"Inspiring heartbreaker of a documentary." Joshua Rothkopf, New York Times
Trust the French to come up with the best bebop movie. Sax legend Dexter Gordon is mesmerizing as American horn player, Dale Turner (a thinly veiled amalgam of Bud Powell and Lester Young) trying to shake his demons in 1959 Paris, with loving help from a local fan and his young daughter. Plagued by years of alcoholism and drug use, knowing the end is near; he plays every note of his memories and battles with dignity and wisdom, and then returns home to New York. The forlorn music includes early work of Monk and Bird, the standards of Gershwin and Porter. Gordon’s contribution aside, Herbie Hancock is on piano and others such as Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, Ron Carter and Billy Higgins all figure, with Lonette McKee on vocals. Hancock, who a star attraction at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, also composed the film’s beautiful score.
"This movie teaches you everything about jazz that you really need to know… It is about a few months in a man’s life, and about his music. It has more jazz in it than any other fiction film ever made, and it is probably better jazz; it makes its best points with music, not words.." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times