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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.

Vancity Theatre Screening

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

DOCside

"Peter Nicks’s magnificent documentary spends a day in the life of an over-crowded and under-resourced hospital emergency room in Oakland, Calif., where a staff of compassionate professionals provide care to a startlingly diverse population of patients. This subtle, compassionate tableau lifts the veil on a world often described in terms of squalor and despair, finding the inherent dignity and perseverance therein." Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"Peter Nicks’s magnificent documentary spends a day in the life of an over-crowded and under-resourced hospital emergency room in Oakland, Calif., where a staff of compassionate professionals provide care to a startlingly diverse population of patients. This subtle, compassionate tableau lifts the veil on a world often described in terms of squalor and despair, finding the inherent dignity and perseverance therein." Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"Documentarian Peter Nicks had extraordinary access to the people in and around the waiting room of a public hospital in Oakland. But what makes this a classic, and a work of art and not journalism, is his taste, his poetic touches and his talent for understatement." Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

In 60s Australia, John Grant (Gary Bond), is an Education Department bonded teacher at a tiny outback school. Making his way to Sydney for the holidays, John takes the train but stops overnight in Bundayabba.

Drawn into the ’Yabba’s’ culture of drinking and gambling, he becomes embroiled in the locals’ insular and threatening world.

""Wake in Fright" is a film made in Australia in 1971 and almost lost forever. It’s not dated. It is powerful, genuinely shocking and rather amazing. It comes billed as a "horror film" and contains a great deal of horror, but all of the horror is human and brutally realistic."

- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Combining elements of Heart of Darkness, After Hours, and Groundhog Day, Ted Kotcheff’s brutally brilliant Outback thriller follows the moral degradation, or perhaps redemption, of a snooty schoolteacher (Gary Bond) traveling from the backwater where he’s assigned to Sydney for his Christmas vacation. But along the way he gets stranded in "the city," Bundanyabba, where he loses his money in a backroom game of chance and must rely on the contemptuous hospitality of the local yokels […]Kotcheff’s masterpiece (he later did First Blood), it orchestrates landscape, music, demonic faces, and lots of blood, sweat, and vomit into a stark bacchanalia of men having fun." Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix

Vancity Theatre Screening

Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago follows various pilgrims, from ages 3 to 73, as they attempt to cross an entire country on foot—with only a backpack, a pair of boots and an open mind. Driven by an inexplicable calling and a grand sense of adventure, we witness the Camino’s magnetic and miraculous power to change lives. Each pilgrim throws themselves heart and soul into their incredibly challenging trek to Santiago de Compostela, and most importantly, their personal journey to themselves.

"Driving both the filmmaker and her subjects is wonder and wanderlust. Their enthusiasm for the Camino is contagious ..."—Diana Clarke, Village Voice

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

Vancity Theatre Screening

In 1945, 95% of the Jews in Poland were murdered during the Holocaust. In 2013, a Jewish museum is erected, a monument not just to the past, but to a New Poland. We Are Here is an important documentary looking at the complex and fragile Polish-Jewish relationship through the eyes of five Jews living in Poland today.

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Lukas Moodysson (Together; Show Me Love) adapts his wife Coco’s graphic novel about three 13-year-old girls growing up in early ’80s Stockholm and forming their own punk band - the best band in the world!

"A gloriously funny coming-of-age comedy – although age itself is squeezed almost entirely into the margins, crowded out by the film’s raucous, window-rattling love of being young." Daily Telegraph

"A joyous, heart-swelling tale of youthful rebellion." Manohla Dargis, New York Times

"A joyous time capsule. Captures the DIY empowerment of punk rock and the bond of female friendships in one blissful swoop. For those of us who’ve been hoping that Lukas Moodysson would return to the tender touch of early movies like Show Me Love and Together, the wait is over." David Fear, The Village Voice

" A gloriously funny coming-of-age comedy – although age itself is squeezed almost entirely into the margins, crowded out by the film’s raucous, window-rattling love of being young." Robbie Colin, Daily Telegraph

Music Mondays

The rock/funk band Miller, Miller, Miller and Sloan hoped to make it big in 1980s New York City music scene. They had talent, a unique sound, and fans—everything but a record deal. This "where are they now?" documentary is a kind of rock n roll 7 Up, funny, rueful, and full of piercing insight.

"By the time the film ends you’ll be hoping for a reunion." Unseen Films

Woody Allen: Spring Collection

What’s old, pussycat? Allen’s first produced screenplay did not turn out the way he wanted, but this swung-out nineteen sexties farce is at the very least a fascinating time capsule, so chauvinist it would make Austin Powers blush. But get a load of that cast! Peters O’Toole and Sellers, Romy Schneider, Paula Prentiss, Ursula Andress and Woody too.

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Audiences named this heartbreaking and inspiring story of a young filmmaker struggling with the diagnosis of MS the best Canadian documentary at last year’s VIFF (duplicating its success at the Toronto Film Festival). It’s easy to see why: DaSilva is unflinching in his honesty and resolute in his determination to make the most of what he has.

"DaSilva’s experience behind a camera shows in his brisk pacing, clear narrative structure, and the awareness that a story of sickness needs lighthearted distractions… Fueled by […] uncompromising intelligence and unrelenting candor." Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“DaSilva’s strength and resilience … shines through every frame of his story… It’s a lovely, inspiring film, deeply personal and honest.” Kim Voynar, Movie City News

When I Walk makes it very clear that Jason isn’t all alone despite his support system. Rather, his support system, including his mom, makes him who he is, even more than his malfunctioning legs and hands. His life isn’t his disease, and neither […] is his lovingly collaborative film." Noah Berlatsky, The Dissolve

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Why is the history of American humour so inextricably tied to Jewish identity? What was it about the Jewish experience that made them so funny? And what’s different now? These are the questions - some of them - that Canadian documentarian Alan Zweig pursues with a roster of fellow Jewish comedians, young and old.

Black History Month

Inspired by the collective experiences of Harriet Tubman and many Freedom Seekers who traveled to Canada through the Underground Railroad, Seth-Adrian Harris’s debut relates their journeys through Afro-modern dance, poetic realism, and the music of resilience and triumph performed by Canada’s national treasure, Jackie Richardson. Through a weaving of dream sequences, we are taken on a great voyage with a woman named Moses whose spiritual awakening becomes the beacon of Hope for all seekers on the quest for freedom.

IBFF 2013 Vancouver (International Buddhist Film Festival)

In 1959 a great migration from Tibet was violently set in motion. The Dalai Lama was joined in exile by thousands of refugees, among them some of the most important Tibetan Buddhist teachers, opening a window on what had been a hidden realm. Through interviews rare archival footage, the film offers an insider’s view of Tibetan Buddhism as it is manifesting beyond its original home.

"The film is a vivid and engaging account of the movement of the Buddha Dharma - the teachings and practices of Buddhism - to the West…Viewers of the film will come away with the discovery that they have learned a great deal. But even more, their hearts will have been opened and perhaps melted by the uplifting gift of genuine spirituality as it flows from teacher to student in a pattern free of time, showing us the way to go beyond the suffering and upheavals of our days and years." Light of Consciousness magazine

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When Jack Nicholson played a merciless Boston gangster in Scorsese’s The Departed, it was immediately recognised as a portrait of the notorious Whitey Bulger - at that time, still topping the FBI’s Most Wanted List (though that didn’t stop him attending the Stanley Cup Finals in Vancouver in 2011). When Whitey was eventually brought to trial, at last his victims had a chance to face this killer and extortionist face justice. But in a bizarrre twist, many found themselves siding with the case for the defence, as they attempted to prove that, contrary to Government claims, Bulger was not and never had been an FBI informant.

"Like five seasons of The Wire distilled into one epic episode."  Globe and Mail

"A chilling, immediate true-crime story."  NOW magazine

((Okami kodomo no ame to yuki))
Vancity Theatre Screening

Fans of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it’s time to expand your horizons! This beautiful, sweet modern day fairy tale is the latest animated feature from Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars). Wolf Children is exquisite, a fantasy about a single mom, Hana, and her two kids, who are half human, half wolf. When they get excited, they spout bushy tails and long ears. Hana retreats to a remote farm to keep them safe from prying eyes until they are old enough to decide their own path.

"Mamoru Hosoda’s deeply moving and astoundingly contemplative work touches on the fleeting nature of life. Though devastating and gut-wrenching, the process of love, family and eventual moving on is considered a thing of beauty and something to be appreciated during the brief moments for which it lasts. 9/10" Robert Bell, Exclaim!

"An enchanting film, perfect for family viewing." Jennie Kermode, Eye For Film

WOODY ALLEN 4 SEASONS: Woody in Winter

Everything you always wanted to know about Woody… well, very nearly. This documentary traces the long and prolific life of a comedy genius, with relaxed commentary from Allen himself, his sister, and collaborators from every phase of his 50-years showbiz career.

"Not a film to be missed." Philip French, The Observer

007 Reloaded: Bond vs Bond

n the 19th Bond adventure, 007 (Pierce Brosnan) must resolve a potentially deadly power struggle between two unstable nations, with control of the world’s oil supply as the ultimate prize.

DEMY MONDE: The Cinema of Jacques Demy

Agnès Varda’s tribute to her late husband Jacques Demy is a loving look at his brilliant vision and techniques. Included are clips from Demy’s films, along with interviews of those who worked with him and knew him best: Catherine Deneuve, Anouk Aimée, Michel Piccoli, composer Michel Legrand, Demy’s children, and fans.

“Of all the New Wave directors who once professed their joy in cinema, Demy remained most faithful to the delights of sight and sound and to the romance of movie iconography. With loving attention to those Atlantic coast towns — Nantes, Rochefort, and Cherbourg — where he grew up, Demy invented a world of benign and enchanting imagination.”

– David Thomson

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