The French Connection meets The Wire in this exhilarating mainland China cop thriller from Hong Kong auteur Johnnie To. Faced with the death penalty, drug trafficker Timmy Choi reluctantly enters into a partnership with narcotics cop Zhang to break a rich and powerful crime syndicate.
"Johnnie To’s first action film to be shot in mainland China is gritty, uncompromising and hugely exhilarating… a film that comes on like The French Connection meets The Wire." Lee Marshall, Screen Daily
"Deftly balancing gritty police procedural with some memorably surreal/symbolic flourishes, Drug War shows this prolific genre master at the very top of his game. " Anton Bitel, Film4
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
A meditative, free-associative but entirely engrossing contemplation of the nature of time by the innovative non-fiction filmmaker Peter Mettler. Detroit, Big Island, India and CERN are just some of his philosophical pit-stops. Go with the (lava) floe.
"Recalling the work of Terrence Malick, Werner Herzog and the late Chris Marker… The End of Time becomes immersive and hypnotic… a ravishingly beautiful experience." Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter.
"Peter Mettler’s poetic lens has inquired into everything from personal fulfillment (Gambling, Gods and LSD) to the Northern Lights (Picture of Light). Now he’s after his most elusive prey yet: the very human concept of time… [The End of Time] is of a piece with Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, a film that similarly finds miraculous unity in seemingly random things." Peter Howell, Toronto Star.
When Celestine - a mouse - persuades Ernest (a bear) not to eat her it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship. He’s a busker by trade. She’s also something of a bohemian, and soon they’re inseparable. - much to the consternation of family, rodents and other animals.
"A delightfully old-fashioned kid’s flick with a meaningful message… The screenplay by bestselling French novelist Daniel Pennac keeps things on a believable plain (for a fairy tale), and it’s easy enough to invest in the plights of the duo… Ernest et Célestine gradually becomes a cautionary fable where friendship tries to stand the test of bigotry and intolerance…" Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter
"A delightful melding of visual style and narrative pirouettes, Ernest And Célestine is a just-about-perfect hand drawn animated feature. The unlikely but eventually rock solid alliance between gruff bear Ernest and artistically inclined orphan mouse Célestine is loaded with charm and adventure." Lisa Nesselson, Screen Daily
In French with English subtitiles
Edward Norton and Drew Barrymore stroll hand in hand around a fountain, then burst into a deliciously sloppy rendition of ’Just You, Just Me’, and immediately we’re right into it, and you can’t imagine why it’s taken Woody Allen so long to get round to reviving the musical. Romantic, nostalgic and decadent as Fred Astaire, this is also the closest Allen has come to a Jacques Demy movie.
"A delightful and witty compendium of the film maker’s favorite things." Janet Maslin, New York Times
"It would take a heart of stone to resist this movie." Roger Ebert
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.
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
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
Paris, 1911: When a pterodactyl hatches in a museum and begins terrorising the town, clueless detective Caponi (Lellouche) seeks the connection between the prehistoric menace, a mad old professor (Nercessian) conducting resurrection experiments and intrepid reporter Adèle Blanc-Sec (Bourgoin), whose pursuit of ancient artefacts is a desperate personal mission…
A whimsical, madcap action adventure romp in the spirit of Indiana Jones from the director of The Fifth Element, Nikita and Leon: The Professional.
"This is utterly delightful from start to finish, thanks to a witty script, gorgeous production design, enjoyably pacey direction and a wonderful performance from Louise Bourgoin. Highly recommended and one of the best films of the year. Don’t leave before the end credits." Matthew Turner, This Is London
Maestro Federico Fellini died just over 20 years ago, 31 October 1993. His passing - and the star-studded funeral that followed three days later - inspired one of the first great media events of the new electronic age, a circus of celebrity, culture, imagery and emotion that Fellini probably enjoyed from on high. This new documentary brings those moments back to life again with the help of Fellini’s friends, colleagues and admirers.
* 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
This film of the 1958 Broadway musical by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein was groundbreaking for its use of a predominantly Asian-American cast, and for treating Chinese-Americans as Americans.
"There’s nothing subtle or fragile about this "Flower Drum Song." It is gaudy and gaggy and quite melodic. Along those lines, it is quite a show." Bosley Crowther, New York Times (1961)
When Cardinal Bergoglio became Pope Francis last year, it was an expression of the humility and love he admired in Saint Francis of Assisi - which also happens to be the subject of this beautiful, sweetly spiritual and unexpectedly whimsical film written by Federico Fellini along with the pioneer of neo-realism, Roberto Rossellini, who also directed.
“I’ve never seen the life of a saint treated on film with so little solemnity and so much warmth.” Martin Scorsese
VANCOUVER PREMIERE - An intimate look at students and masters living in scattered retreats dotting China’s Zhongnan Mountain range today. These peaks have been home to recluses since the time of the Yellow Emperor. Filmed on location in China with humor and compassion, presenting the hardships and joy of their everyday lives among the clouds.
SPECIAL PREVIEW PRESENTATION - A young filmmaker returns to China from study abroad, speaking French on the phone. He journeys from the bustling metropolis of Shanghai to a remote monastery on Tian-Mu Mountain where he’s reunited with his mother after a tragic fire. A subtle, intimate and mysterious study in contrasts that touches on family, loss, guilt and creativity. Here is a China in transition, with confusion and alienation along with the steady beat of Buddhist chants.
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.
Greta Gerwig is delightful - a kind of modern day Annie Hall - in this lovely, deft, funny/sad movie from Noah Baumbach. Frances Halladay is 27, living in New York, and not really pulling things together yet. She’s in the wrong job, and her most intimate friend is her flatmate, who’s moving out. Simultaneously optimistic and melancholy, romantic and unsentimental, it’s the finest comedy of the year.
"An irresistibly lovely, melancholic acknowledgment that love is impossible, and that the more candid a young woman is, the less eligible she becomes in the standard romantic sweepstakes… Frances Ha also marks the rare instance in which an actress has the perfect role at the perfect time. Ms. Gerwig’s work here is fragile, delicate, subject to bruising; something that could wither under too much attention. Perhaps Ms. Gerwig is the greatest actress alive. And maybe Frances Ha is just the ghost orchid of independent cinema." John Anderson, Wall Street Journal
"There’s an optimism and an empathy in “Frances Ha” that feels genuine and earned.The plot doesn’t build to a gigantic, sweeping climax, but the understated final moments made me happier than any other filmgoing experience I’ve had all year." Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
Can you rewire the brain, just by taking a breath? In 1992 Professor Richard Davidson, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, met the Dalai Lama, who encouraged him to apply the same rigorous methods he used to study depression and anxiety to the study of compassion and kindness, those qualities cultivated by Tibetan meditation practice. The results of Davidson’s studies are portrayed in Free the Mind as they are applied to treating PTSD in returning Iraqi vets and children with ADHD. The film poses two fundamental questions: What really is consciousness, and how does it manifest in the brain and body? And is it possible to physically change the brain solely through mental practices?
"Grips your heart from the first moment." Film Comment
"By the end of this documentary, you’ll feel like a kid again, filled with wonder and questions about humanity and yourself." Marco Chown Oved, Toronto Star
"There is something healing about simply watching Free the Mind." Gary Goldstein, LA Times
When MI6 gets a chance to get their hands on a Lektor decoder, Bond is sent to Turkey to seduce the beautiful Tatiana (Daniela Bianchi), and bring back the machine. With the help of Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), Bond escapes on the Orient Express, but might not make it off alive. Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Timothy Dalton have all cited From Russia With Love as their favourite Bond film.
"Highly immoral in every imaginable way; it is neither uplifting, instructive nor life-enhancing. Neither is it great film-making. But it sure is fun." Richard Roud, The Guardian (1963)
The latest in our irregular series of archival shows throws a well-earned spotlight on the late Phil Keatley, whose long career at the CBC ranged from the 1950s to the 70s. Keatley is probably best known for his work as a producer on The Beachcombers, but here we look back further, to three black and white dramas he produced in BC between 1958 and 1967.