Vancity Theatre Screening
Films in this Series
The first Iranian Vampire Western ever made, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut basks in the sheer pleasure of pulp. A joyful mash-up of genre, archetype, and iconography, its prolific influences span spaghetti westerns, graphic novels, horror films, and the Iranian New Wave.
"Amirpour has crafted a beguiling, cryptic and often surprisingly funny look at personal desire that creeps up on you with the nimble powers of its supernatural focus. The director combines elements of film noir and the restraint of Iranian New Wave cinema with the subdued depictions of a bored youth culture found in early Jim Jarmusch ... The comparisons go on and on, but the result is wholly original." —Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"A wildly inventive Iranian vampire movie that grabs you by the throat with its dark, moody style, pulsating soundtrack and offbeat love story." —David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle
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
Imagine a punk Freddy Kruger let loose in Office Space… Or don’t, that’s the kind of lazy daydream which keeps cynical scam artist Marty (Jason Burge) busy during his temp job at a bank. That is, when he’s not figuring out dumb ways to embezzle from his employers. This dark and melancholy tragi-comedy signals the maturation of a singular new voice in American independent cinema.
"A vigorous and strangely compelling character study, a sustained burst of punk-rock ferocity, and one of the most original American films to emerge in some time." — Calum Marsh, Village Voice
"The movie, though it is aggressively satirical and sometimes shocking, is in the end hauntingly sad." — AO Scott, New York Times
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
A rare chance to revisit this singularly strange, radical environmental, aboriginal rights drama from the Polish filmmaker Ryszard Bugajski (Closed Circuit; The Interrogation). Graham Greene gives the performance of his career as Arthur, who is either a pissed-off warrior on a rampage against a mill encroaching on his people’s land, or a trickster spirit manifesting to teach an ineffectual liberal lawyer (Ron Lea) a lesson about the need for action - unless he’s both?
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
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
“In this 2014 sequel to the award-winning You’ve Been Trumped, director
Anthony Baxter once again follows American billionaire Donald Trump and a cast of other greedy characters who want to turn some of the Earth’s most precious places into golf courses and playgrounds for the super rich.”
This event is $10 and includes a panel discussion/Q&A and a dinner buffet/beverages.
Directors Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott’s 2013 film “chronicles ‘America’s leading environmentalist,’ Bill McKibben, in a David-vs-Goliath battle to fight the fossil fuel industry and change the terrifying math of the climate crisis.” This event is $5 and includes a panel discussion/Q&A and snacks/beverages.
Micah Smith’s 2013 Honor Diaries “is the first film to break the silence on ‘honor violence’ against women and girls. Honor Diaries is more than a movie, it is a movement to save women and girls from human rights abuses around the world.” This event is $5 and includes a panel discussion/Q&A and snacks/beverages.
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
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.
Ana Valine’s darkly comic drama centres on mother/daughter con artists who just can’t catch a break. Seen through the eyes of 16-year-old Sammie (Paloma Kwiatkowski)—who lives with her pill-popping, alcoholic mom Marlene (Suzanne Clément)—this bittersweet journey leads us through dysfunction, love and addiction, before culminating with an unusual deliverance for this compelling pair. Winner, Best Director, Leo Awards 2014.
Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Film, this is a contemporary story imbued with the rich, tangy flavor of Celtic mysticism. Ben is a lousy big brother to six-year-old Saoirse – he’s resentful that she can’t (or won’t) speak, and can’t forgive that his mum died during childbirth. Their dad (voiced by Brendan Gleason) hasn’t gotten over it either, but still their life together on the lonely island where he’s a lighthouse keeper seems infinitely preferable to the conventional upbringing their gran has in mind for them, living with her in Dublin. What none of them understands is how fundamentally Saoirse is connected both to her mother, and to the sea… Dazzling kaleidoscopic imagery and a soulful approach make Song of the Sea a magical experience, recommended for all ages.
"A quite delightful piece of magical animation ... a bewitching, moving and often enchanting film." — Mark Adams, Hollywood Reporter
"Song of the Sea is a wonder to behold. This visually stunning animation masterwork, steeped in Irish myth, folklore and legend, so adroitly mixes the magical and the everyday that to watch it is to be wholly immersed in an enchanted world." — Kenneth Turan, LA Times
"If I had to recommend the best children’s film out there for all ages, this one, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, would easily top the charts." — Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Told in fourteen fixed-angle, single shot, individual tableaus that parallel Christ’s journey to his own crucifixion,Stations… is both an indictment of fundamentalist faith and the articulation of an impressionable teen’s struggle to find her own path in life. Though from the outside Maria lives in the modern world, her family and her heart are faithful to a Catholic radicalism that requires sacrifice and devotion at every turn.
"This brilliant and subtle comedy about teenage martyrdom argues that extremism has no place in the modern world." David Jenkins, Little White Lies
"Passionate, generous, witty; Dietrich Bruggemann’s study of a fanatical Catholic family renews one’s faith in the power of slow art movies to change the world." London Evening Standard
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
The most impressive debut feature of the year also happens to be the scariest. This tale of an anguished single mom (an incredible performance from Essie Davies), her monstrous six-year-old, and the storybook bogeyman who terrorizes their home is guaranteed to chill you to the bone.
"One of the strongest, most effective horror films of recent years - with awards-quality lead work from Essie Davis, and a brilliantly designed new monster who could well become the break-out spook archetype of the decade." Kim Newman, Empire
"Managing to scare an audience silly with original imagery and non-formulaic jolts is no mean feat […] Managing to move us at the same time is close to miraculous." Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
"Deeply disturbing and unusually beatiful." Variety
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
A girl’s best friend is her dog in this exuberantly odd political parable from Hungary. When a new law places onerous taxes on the owners of mutts, the streets of Budapest start to fill up with abandoned dogs - including Hagen, beloved pet of 13-year-old Lili. While the child defies her father and the odds to try to track down her dog, Hagen suffers a series of grueling adventures involving various ill-intentioned individuals. "Fierce and beautiful." — The New York Times
“A fierce and beautiful Hungarian parable about a girl, her dog, and the uprising that’s sparked after they are separated ... When the dogs break free and run through the streets in White God, demolishing barriers and biting the hands that have hit them, the movie takes a leap into bold political metaphor, offering up a memorable image of the great unwashed gone (literally) barking mad.” — Manhola Dargis, The New York Times
“White God confirms Mundruczó’s position as one of Europe’s most exciting, unpredictable and technically competent directors. In a world where so many filmmakers seem to rework the same material over and over, he is a true wild card — a filmmaker with ‘un certain regard’ if ever there was one.” — Nick Roddick, Sight & Sound
“Thrillingly strange ... tense, stunningly staged set-pieces recall the uncanny power of Hitchcock’s The Birds [...] A risky shift toward the poetically aberrant that would not work if Mundruczo’s storytelling weren’t so rousing and emotionally purposeful — not to mention morally challenging, as man and dog are accorded equally flawed, vengeful psychologies in the film’s universe.” — Guy Lodge, Variety