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.
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
Dylan Fries, Michael Sanders
There are men, and then there are men with beards. how your true face to the world. It’s not as easy as it looks! In fact for many men growing a beard is a challenge and even a rite of passage, a time when they reclaim their masculinity despite suspicion and derision from colleagues, bosses, friends and loved ones. If the results can be hairy - especially when confronted with a bowl of soup - they can also prove revelatory, opening up new channels of self expression and even sensuality.
When superstar Canadian director Robert Lepage is invited to stage Wagner’s the Ring Cycle at New York’s Metropolitan Opera it was never going to be a routine production. Susan Froemke follows the backstage progress of a controversial but visually astounding show that tested everyone involved to their limits.
"Simply the best documentary about the Met ever made." Film Journal
"Destined to be one of the classic documentaries about opera." Philadelphia Inquirer
"A rousing portrait of creative renewal and, specifically, the way in which – by attempting something daring and new in the face of an opera culture deeply invested in tradition – Lepage proves that classic art can survive and flourish in a marriage with modern technology and imagination." – The Village Voice
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.
HOUSE OF BAMBOO The first Hollywood movie to be shot in Japan after WWII, and also the first film to be shot in CinemaScope in that country, House of Bamboo is vividly alert to places and spaces. One of the iconic film noir hard men, Robert Ryan is an ex GI operating an American crime gang on strict military lines. Robert Stack infiltrates the group, but getting in is easier than getting out in one piece.
"A masterpiece that pinpoints the sublime in Fuller’s sensationalism and earns every inch of its widescreen real estate! Turning the on-location Tokyo streets into the perfect backdrop for a cartoonishly colorful version of hardboiled drama—call it Pulp Art— House of Bamboo keeps its story line about an undercover Army cop (Stack) battling a gangster (Ryan) on the lean and mean side. But the impeccable compositions Fuller uses to detail the lyrical and the lurid give even the most lowbrow elements a high-art feel; it’s like a bridge from the gutter to the museum." - David Fear, Time Out New York
"Some of the most stunning examples of widescreen photography in the history of cinema. Travelling to Japan on 20th Century Fox’s dime, Fuller captured a country divided, trapped between past traditions and progressive attitudes while lingering in the devastating aftereffects of an all-too-recent World War. His visual schema represents the societal fractures through a series of deep-focus, Noh-theatrical tableaus, a succession of silhouettes, screens, and stylized color photography that melds the heady insanity of a Douglas Sirk melodrama with the philosophical inquiry of the best noirs." Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine
Equal parts drama, comedy and thriller, The Landlords is a riveting film from actor-turneddirector, Edoardo Gabbriellini with a sensational cast including legendary real-life singer Gianni Morandi making a return to the big screen after 40 years. Cosimo (Valerio Mastandrea) and Elia (Elio Germano) are two young brothers dreaming of success in the construction business. They travel from Rome to a remote Apennines mountain village where they have been contracted to rebuild a villa for the retired singer Fausto Mieli, a divisive local figure who is planning a comeback concert.
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 this quirky ensemble comedy a wealthy but lonely man (Castellitto) creates his own family Christmas by writing a script and hiring professional actors to play it out. It’s the ultimate game of charades, a play for an audience of one.
* VIFC Guest + Volunteer Passes are not valid for Best Of Hot Docs Series
Filmmaker-historian Nelson George conducts a passionate archeology of funk music—the crucial bridge between ’60s soul and ’80s hip hop—replete with loving testimonials about Dayton, Ohio, and Detroit, Michigan, in their funk heydays, where in the basements of now-mythical music makers like Sly Stone and P-Funk, the funk explosion was catalyzed. With The Roots member Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson as our guide, and warm regaling from notable musicians such as Bootsy Collins, George Clinton, Sheila E. and Mike D of the Beastie Boys, we’re transported to the hippie-ish ’70s when a mad fever of savvy creativity saw the transmutation of jazz, soul and R&B into infectiously danceable funk.
"Not to spoil the ending, but director Nelson George absolutely does find the funk. 3 stars." Brad Wheeler, Globe & Mail
"A lesson every music fan should have." William Brownridge, Toronto Film Scene
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is hijacking American and Russian space shuttles, in an attempt to start a war between the two nations. Bond is sent to Japan to investigate, with the help of Tiger Tanaka, the head of station in Tokyo. Armed with over 100 trained ninjas, Bond infiltrates Blofeld’s volcano lair.
Matinee show Aug 25 (only) All Ages Show, under-19s welcome.
Evening show Aug 29 introduced by film scholar Michael van den Bos.
Roger Moore’s pick of his own Bond movies is a slick, spectacular, always fun concoction. When villain Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) hijacks British and Soviet submarines, Bond is paired with Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbarach Bach) to get to the bottom of his evil plan.
"Exceptional… Moore gives his best performance in the series… Film is a real treat - a well-acted, smartly cast, sexy, visually impressive, lavishly produced, powerfully directed mix of a spy romance and a war-mission film." Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic.
Probably inspired by the success of Star Wars, James Bond went into outer space in Moonraker, one of the most popular of the series. It’s got amazing aerial stunts, some of designer Adam’s most inspired sets, a creepy villain in Michel Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax and Richard Kiel is back as the giant, metal-toothed henchman Jaws.
"Irresistibly entertaining." Frank Rich, Time
"A minor masterpiece." James Monaco, The Connoisseur’s Guide to the Movies
"One of the most buoyant Bond films of all." Vincent Canby, New York Times
Enter Timothy Dalton, a leaner, meaner 007. Bond is assigned to protect Georgi Koskov, an ex-KGB officer who is defecting to the British. Koskov is to escape during the intermission at the Bratislava concert hall, and must be protected from a KGB sniper. Bond sets up across the street, but decides against assassinating the sniper…
"Grips like wet rope" Brian Case, Time Out
Timothy Dalton’s second (and last) Bond movie is one of the least typical but also one of the most satisfying on its own terms. It’s a revenge movie, for one thing, with Bond going AWOL to take on a ruthless Mexican drug baron (Robert Davi).
Roger Moore shows the right stuff in this slightly more realistic adventure. A ship containing an Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), which can control ballistic missile attacks, is sunk. Bond is sent to retrieve the ATAC before the Russians can.
Roger Moore’s seventh and final Bond movie is absurd - but how to resist a film where the baddie is an industrialist intent on destroying Silcon Valley to create a monopoly on microchip technology (Bill Gates, meet Max Zorin)?
"A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia, A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin’s dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge." Lawrence O’Toole, Maclean’s
Oscar Godoy’s debut feature Ulysses is a classic migrant’s tale; Julio (Jorge Roman) may be a Peruvian man looking for a new life in Santiago de Chile, but Godoy is taking on a universal narrative here. With its alienating city scapes and anonymous shopping malls, Santiago could be any city in the world, likewise Ulysses is mining a cinematic seam which is intriguing, but also very familiar.
Senegalese kora and western trumpet make fabulous music together! Volker Goetze’s enthralling documentary melds dazzling visuals and haunting songs to serve up a feast for the senses. Griot introduces us to Goetze’s own soulful trumpet stylings and the extraordinary voice and calabash harp artistry of Ablaye Cissoko.
"Stunning… beautiful." Globe & Mail
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
Earlier this year, London’s Royal Academy of Arts mounted the first ever retrospective devoted to the portraiture of Edouard Manet. Spanning this enigmatic and, at times, controversial artist’s entire career Manet: Portraying Life brought together works from across Europe, Asia and the USA. Documentarian Phil Grabsky was granted exclusive access to explore the exhibition with the kind of intensive scrutiny (and learned insight) most art-lovers can only dream of.
"Once again the film proves that seeing an exhibition through a camera (especially an HD one) is far better than not seeing it at all." Roberta Smith, New York Times