Not just a celebration of the New York Review of Books (though it is certainly that), Martin Scorsese and David Tedescho’s documentary chronicles many of the historical, political and cultural landmarks of the past half century, through the prism of that august publication’s intellectual insight and rigour. Along the way, they interview (or unearth archival footage of) some of the finest minds of the period, including Joan Didion, Gore Vidal, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Jay Gould, Andrei Sakharov, Vaclev Havel, Oliver Sacks and James Baldwin. As you might expect, the film sparkles with wit and wisdom, erudition and elucidation.
"A bracing film about the value of radical ideas and the importance of being courageous enough to consider them." — Norman Wilner, Now
Do your kids spend too much time on electronic devices? Do you? Suzanne and her husband decided to change that. They abandoned C21st comforts to take their three kids to a cabin off the grid in the remote Yukon wilderness for nine months. It was a grand adventure, a return to the self-sustaining pioneering lifestyle of the kind described by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it transformed this Canadian family’s understanding of "Quality time".
"A magnificent film." — David Suzuki
"Timely and inspring. 5 stars." — Michael Reid, Times Colonist
"Family-friendly, heartwarming, uplifting and important." — Allan MacInnis, Alienated in Vancouver
Yogananda was the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic Autobiography of a Yogi, which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers and yoga enthusiasts today. This unconventional documentary has won critical plaudits everywhere it has screened.
"Fittingly enlightening, Awake: The Life of Yogananda is a vivid, elegantly assembled portrait of the savvy guru with the cherubic face and penetrating gaze who brought meditation to the West." — Michael Rechtschaffen, LA Times
"Gentle sitar music, languorous camerawork and soothing narration ... This could be a good movie to do yoga by." — The New York Times
Like 12th graders everywhere, the students at Shanti Bhavan School are preparing for their graduation exams. But imagine the pressure: they’re the first of India’s "untouchables" to be granted the opportunity to study for the tests. And if they fail, the fate of the non-profit school which has been their home for a decade lies in the balance...
“A genuinely moving and inspiring documentary that will resonate with viewers." — Craig Takeuchi, The Georgia Straight
“Had me crying and cheering at the end...” — Alex Hutt, Canadian Film Review
In January 2013, filmmaker Laura Poitras was in the process of constructing a film about abuses of national security in post-9/11 America when she started receiving encrypted e-mails from someone identifying himself as “citizen four,” who was ready to blow the whistle on the massive covert surveillance programs run by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. In June 2013, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald flew to Hong Kong for the first of many meetings with the man who turned out to be Edward Snowden. She brought her camera with her.
"The documentary of the year may also be its most hair-raising thriller." — Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail
"This patient, beautiful, painful, engrossing film pits husband and wife against each other and their world in a series of extended conversations/confrontations." — Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
"Tense and frightening ... a primal political fable for the digital age." — New York Times
Vancouver film scholar Michael van den Bos returns with an all-new edition of Dancing in the Dark – The Surreal, The Sublime and The Spectacular. Michael will introduce a choreographic compilation of delirious, divine and dazzling dances from such films as The Band Wagon, Cabaret, Cabin in the Sky, Cover Girl, Dames, Kiss Me Kate, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Singin’ in the Rain, Swing Time and White Nights among other terpsichorean treats.
This crisp, unexpected drama from regular Laurent Cantet collaborator (and Les Revenants creator) Robin Campillo oscillates between thriller, social realism, and gay love story without ever missing a beat. It begins with a classic mis-step. Bourgeois businessman Daniel foolishly picks up an Eastern European hustler at the Gare du Nord, and invites him back to his apartment the next day. But when he buzzes in his new acquaintance, he’s in for an unpleasant surprise…
"Fascinating... Sleek, shape-shifting... by turns a frightening home-invasion drama, a tender love story and a tense hide-and-seek thriller." — Guy Lodge, Variety
"A surprisingly resonant thrill ride." — Bob Mondello, NPR
"Explores interlocking themes of sexuality, immigration and power dynamics with a cleareyed sensitivity and refuses to demonize even its shadiest characters." — Stephen Holden, New York Times
Two years to the day since the collapse of the garment factory in Rana Plaza, Bangladesh, that claimed the lives of 1129 workers, Eco Fashion Week, Fashion Revolution Day and VIFF Vancity Theatre present this inspiring documentary about individuals and organizations forging change. ‘Traceability’ is the aim to have a proper trail for every single step in the supply chain. As well as where, it wants consumers to be concerned with how garments are made. Sharpe’s film follows young designer Laura Seigel as she seeks to connect her work with the people and the places who manufacture them, putting an altogether brighter spin on "globalization".
In your lifetime, the history of photography has seen a seismic shift, the dramatic change from film to digital. Harvey Wang was mid-career when the tools of his craft were made nearly obsolete. He interviewed more than 20 photographers and prominent figures in the field, including Jerome Liebling, George Tice, David Goldblatt, Sally Mann, Eugene Richards, Ruud van Empel, John Cohen and Jeff Jacobson, as well as Steven Sasson, co-inventor of the digital camera, and Thomas Knoll, co-creator of Photoshop.
An Israeli woman seeking to finalize a divorce (gett) from her estranged husband finds herself effectively put on trial by her country’s religious marriage laws, in this powerhouse courtroom drama from sibling directors Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz. Winner of the Israeli Film Academy Ophir Award for Best Picture and propelled by the craft of Ronit Elkabetz (Late Marriage; The Band’s Visit), one of Israeli cinema’s most acclaimed actresses, Gett: The Trial of VIvian Amsalem is an uncompromising, heart-rending portrait of a woman’s struggle to overcome an unmoving patriarchy and live a life of her own design.
“Expertly written, brilliantly acted…The beautifully modulated script, ripe with moments of liberating humor, builds to a crescendo of indignation, allowing Elkabetz several cathartic outbursts, but they’re no more riveting than the actress’ silences.” — Jay Weissberg, Variety
"The action quivers with tension, impatience, comic heat, and, beneath it all, an irrepressible rage." — Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
"Hypnotic ... Gripping cinema from start to finish." — Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Fed up with her abusive family situation, lack of school prospects and the “boys’ law” in the neighborhood, Marieme (Karidja Touré) starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her style, drops out of school and starts stealing to be accepted into the gang. Tomboy director Celine Sciamma may not approve of these choices but she revels in the exuberance of adolescent discovery - the euphoria of first love, fast friends, and living on the edge - while lip-synching to Rihanna.
“It’s the feminist answer to Boyhood, yet it manages to dig deeper ... Girlhood is one of the most exceptional films you’ll see this year. Truly a must-see. Highly recommended!” — Jeff Nelson, DVD Talk
"One of the best coming of age movies in years!" — Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"Beautifully observed, precisely directed and acted with wonderful conviction, it pulls us into the life of its protagonist in a deeply involving way." — Kenneth Turan, LA Times
A favourite at VIFF 2014, this enormously affectionate film celebrates the artisans who crafted fabulous haute-couture outfits for Dior, Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent: M. Gérard Lognon, a third-generation specialist in pleat-making; M. Bruno Legeron, a designer of perfect artificial flowers whose atelier opened in 1880; and M. Lorenzo Ré, one of three remaining sculptors of wooden forms for hat-making. But can small remain beautiful in today’s big money world?
Polish-born, UK-based filmmaker Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love) returns to his native land for this evocative, resonant art film about a novice nun discovering a family secret in the 1960s. Beautifully shot in black and white, this award-winning drama has been compared to the work of Francois Truffaut and Robert Bresson.
"In a very short time, Pawlikowski’s film tells us a powerful, poignant story with fine, intelligent performances." — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
"This story of faith and despair is gracefully told, its simple, uncluttered spaces and luminous black-and-white photography harking back to Robert Bresson." — JR Jones, Chicago Reader
"It’s absolutely stunning, one of the year’s best films, and a fulfillment of the promise that the director has shown for so long." — Oli Lyttleton, Indiewire
Something wicket this way comes… In this terrifying cult movie in the making, a teenager is stalked by a shape-shifting nemesis, and the only escape is to pass this walking vendetta onto somebody else - through sexual congress.
"The most exciting film in Cannes ... Tender, remarkably ingenious and scalp-pricklingly scary.” — Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
Inspired by the true story of a Japanese office worker who travelled from Tokyo to wintery North Dakota to dig up the loot buried by Steve Buscemi at the end of Fargo, this piquant gem is a funny but poignant portrait of madness and obsession. It also opens up an intriguing dialogue between the Zellner Brothers’ brand of humane comedy and the Coens’ quirky original.
"Inspirational and devastating." — Eric Kohn, Indiewire
A charming comic drama inspired by the true story of a high school English teacher who drove across Spain in 1966 to meet his idol John Lennon in hopes of clarifying some lyrics he couldn’t quite understand. On the way, he picks up two runaway teenagers — a pregnant girl fleeing a convent, and a boy escaping his dictatorial father.
“This small gem offers a lovely evocation of Spain as well as a touching tribute to an unforgettable moment in time when the Beatles seemed to offer brand new possibilities, the idea that strawberry fields might indeed go on forever.” — Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter
Bert Bush was a fixture in Vancouver’s film & video scene for over 45 years. He supervised printing for Trans Canada Films before opening his own post-production firm, Bush Edit House, at the foot of Lonsdale in 1971. Bert cut film & video, rented equipment and mentored young filmmakers until his death in 2006. When archivists were invited to investigate his legacy, they found nearly 100 films of all kinds — mixing BC tourism titles (A Date with BC, A Place To Be) with cautionary tales of alcohol abuse (Voices) & heart disease (Heartbeat), a ’how-to’ film about placing a long-distance call without operator assistance (DDD- Direct Distance Dialing) and rare examples of locally-produced 50’s & 60’s TV ads. Curated by Colin Preston and Christine Hagemoen.
The charismatic Giuseppe Marinoni has been making some of the most desirable bicycle frames in Canada for decades. A competitive cyclist in Italy in his youth, he decides, at age 75, to attempt a World Record for distance cycled in one hour for his age group. Giuseppe’s determination and perseverance lead him back to his native Italy for his training and, ultimately, his attempt at the record. This is a film not only for the spandex-and-helmet crowd but for anyone who believes that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp.
The entire Indian continent sets its annual clock by the coming of the monsoon season. The rains bring life to barren fields, stave off drought and starvation, bring the economy back to life… But they also bring disaster, death and destruction. Gunnarsson traces the trajectory of the season from the southeastern state of Kerala, where the monsoons first hit land, across the continent to Assam in the northwest. In a word: elemental.
"Awe-inspiring sights... unforgettable vistas." — Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
Imagine spending years in prison without being charged with a crime or knowing exactly what you’re accused of. A film about the human impact of the “War on Terror,” The Secret Trial 5 is a sobering examination of the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, a Kafkaesque tool that allows for indefinite detention without charges, based on evidence not revealed to the accused or their lawyers. Over the last decade, this rare and highly controversial device has been used to detain five men for nearly 30 years combined. To date, none has been charged with a crime or seen the evidence against them. Through the experience of the detainees and their families, the film raises poignant questions about the balance between security and liberty.
"Troubling and compelling ... As Canadians, we’re used to looking elsewhere in the world and shuddering at the lack of due process and respect for human rights. This film is bound to shake many of us out of that sense of smug complacency." — Bruce DeMara, The Star