Vancouver International Film Festival 2017
September 28 - October 13, 2017
*** Please click posters for more info ***
It’s the late 90s in Angeles, Pampanga, almost a decade after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. Felix Salonga, a friendless achiever, is bent on topping his class to elevate his status from a resettlement area. Magnus and Maxim Snyder, half-American brothers, want nothing but to escape life from the Philippines with their prostitute mother and live with their American GI father in the U.S. The Snyder brothers each have their own way of reaching this dream. One struggles to finish high school with the promise of America after graduation while the mischievous one has a dark, sinister plan. As Felix develops a relationship with the brothers, he unearths desires within him he never confronted before. He slowly learns that behind the manicured lawns of “Little America”, each of his actions can lead to fatal consequences.
A crowd favourite at Cannes this year, Robin Campillo’s fast-paced drama positively vibrates with energy, commitment and joie de vivre. As the AIDS crisis claims more and more lives in early 1990s Paris, the AIDS activist group ACT-UP begins a heated campaign to raise awareness and disrupt the blasé middle class. “Five stars! Compellingly combines elegy, tragedy, urgency and a defiant euphoria… This film has what its title implies: a heartbeat. It is full of cinematic life.--Guardian GRAND PRIX, FIPRESCI AWARD, CANNES 2017
Set in the sun-drenched countryside of Italy’s Lombardy region, Luca Guadagnino’s visually ravishing tale of first love is a flawlessly acted wonder. Ensconced in his family’s villa for the summer, 17-year-old Elio (Homeland’s Timothée Chalamet, superb) finds himself drawn to his professor-father’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer). What follows is guaranteed to stir your soul. “Masterful… reminiscent of the best of Eric Rohmer, Bernardo Bertolucci and André Téchiné.”—Guardian
A towering figure in Mexican pop and favourite of Almodóvar, Chavela Vargas was both a myth and a cypher. A singer who turned Rancheras into dark journeys of the soul, Vargas endured a hard life but each trial (including her late-in-life coming out) made her deep, coarse voice richer. Directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi use the devastatingly beautiful lyrics of Chavela’s songs to illustrate the stages of a career punctuated by heartbreak. It’s a fascinating story with a killer soundtrack to boot.
One spring Hiromi, who is the mother of an 11-year-old girl Tomo, left home for the ump
In recent years, the humble art of knitting has acquired an increasingly young, hip following for its supposedly therapeutic benefits — and finally has a film to show for it in Close-Knit. That’s not to trivialize the wider social issues of Naoko Ogigami’s gentle, sweet-souled celebration of alternative family structures, in which a maternally neglected young girl finds security in the care of her uncle and his transgender partner. Thus does a new, unconventional family unit takes shape, with Rinko as the doting mother Tomo has never had. Ogigama’s script resists quite such a cozy conclusion, however, as a family history of troubled maternal relationships is untangled ahead of a more complicated final act. - Variety AUDIENCE AWARD, NEW YORK ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL; TEDDY JURY AWARD, BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017
When her older lover Orlando (Francisco Reyes) dies suddenly, transgendered Marina (a stunning Daniela Vega) faces horrible prejudice from officials investigating his death—and worse from the man’s family. Director Sebastián Lelio (VIFF 13 standout Gloria) has fashioned a radiant tribute to one woman’s strength. “Five Stars! [This] trans tale stands alongside Almodóvar… It may be a timely film, but it is its timelessness, as well as its depths of compassion, that qualify it as a great one.”—Guardian BEST SCREENPLAY, BERLIN 2017
Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) works long hours on his family’s remote farm in the north of England. He numbs the daily frustration of his lonely existence with nightly binge-drinking and casual sex. But when a handsome Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny suddenly finds himself having to deal with emotions he has never felt before. As they begin working closely together during lambing season, an intense relationship starts to form which could change Johnny’s life forever. MANNER JURY AWARD, BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017; THE MICHAEL POWELL AWARD FOR BEST BRITISH FEATURE, EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017; WORLD CINEMA – DRAMATIC
DIRECTING AWARD, SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2017; BILL SHERWOOD AWARD – BEST FIRST FEATURE, TORONTO INSIDE OUT
LESBIAN AND GAY FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL 2017; SPECIAL JURY AWARD, TRANSILVANIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017
CANADIAN PREMIERE Clara, a lonely, lower-class black nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by the mysterious, wealthy and white Ana to be the nanny of her unborn child. The two women develop an unlikely bond, which, under the full moon, eventually becomes sexual. But all is not well with Ana, and a fateful night changes their plans and alters the film itself. Creating a dreamy, stylized São Paulo, Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra tell their story as a political fairy tale, creating a warped Walt Disney film.
Fernando Pérez’s tragicomic tale expertly captures Havana’s faded glory while detailing the lives of those caught up in uncertain times. Exuberant Diego (Jorge Martinez) has AIDS and is confined to his bed; lifelong friend Miguel (Patricio Wood) is a dishwasher who takes care of his every need. When Diego’s spunky (and pregnant) 15-year-old niece Yusi (Gabriela Ramos) arrives on the scene, his days liven up considerably… “A touching celebration of love, devotion and stoical endurance.”—Screen
WORLD PREMIERE An engaging and timely tour d'horizon of Mother Russia and her place in the world today. We witness the wounded pride of Russians as the Soviet Empire crumbles, and the jingoistic xenophobia born out of an increased reliance on foreign investment. Propaganda and demonization of the "other" result in institutionalized racism and a culture of disdain. Boris Ivanov brings us up to speed on the shameful adoption crisis, the state-sanctioned hacking of the Internet and the heartless treatment of LGBTQ citizens. **Filmmaker in attendance**
WFor over 40 years, the all-male drag troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has been delighting audiences around the world. In size 11 toe shoes, the Trocs send up the high art and formality of classical ballet. Director Bobbi Jo Hart shares the rich archival history of this New York collective, born in the wake of the Stonewall Riots, and their progress from preposterous to phenomenal. Best of all, we get to know the international ballerinos while enjoying their satiric wit and outré virtuosity. BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY, SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL MARCH 2017; AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY, MIFO LGBT FILM FESTIVAL MIAMI, APRIL 2017; BEST CANADIAN FILM, 2017 INSIDE OUT LGBT FILM FESTIVAL **Filmmaker in attendance**
Iconoclastic director Denis Côté is at his playful best with this equally awe-inspiring and amusing profile of bronzed, inked and bulging-at-the-sinews bodybuilders. While there's abundant absurd comedy courtesy of the surreal sight of these man-mountains negotiating suburban homes or labouring to meet their caloric needs, Côté's inquisitive camera reverentially appraises the astonishing frames that their devotion has wrought, while also revealing glimpses of vulnerability lurking in these Goliaths' eyes.
A woman begins to fall in love, only to discover that she has fantastic powers. Recently moved to Oslo to attend school, a young woman falls in love and discovers that she possesses terrifying powers, in this supernatural thriller from acclaimed director Joachim Trier (Louder Than Bombs).
LGBTQ icon Tom of Finland—the artist who saw his “pornographic” drawings of well-endowed hunks go from criminal to celebrated—is the fascinating focus of director Dome Karukoski’s biopic, starring an excellent Pekka Strang. Moving from WWII through to Tom’s halcyon days and nights in the California of the 1970s and 80s, the drama “is most effective at showcasing the bountiful beauty of [Tom’s] fleshy, filthy sketches, as well as the empowered pursuit of pleasure for which they continue to stand.”—Variety FIPRESCI PRIZE, GOTHENBURG 17
Ritual circumcision of South African Xhosa boys as a passage into manhood is only one form of wound on display in John Trengove’s sensitive debut. Centred around the closeted Xolani (well-known gay singer Nakhane Touré), a caregiver to the newly circumcised boy-men; his (married) lover, Vija (Bongile Mantsai); and Xolani’s latest charge, the rebellious teen Kwanda (Niza Jay Ncoyini), this powerful drama is “[a] hard-edged but beautifully wrought study of clashing Xhosa models of masculinity.”—Variety
MOON OF VALENCIA BEST FILM, CINEMA JOVE – VALENCIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2017; OUTSTANDING FIRST FEATURE AWARD, FRAMELINE SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL LGBTQ FILM FESTIVAL 2017; BEST FEATURE FILM, TORINO INTERNATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN FILM FESTIVAL 2017, AUDIENCE AWARD, SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL 17
CANADIAN PREMIERE A gay man tries to understand and comfort his partner, who suffers from long-term depression, and help him find the joy of living again. Excellent performances highlight this tender rendering of a difficult situation, where love and compassion can be pushed to the limit—a scenario well understood by caregivers and family members of those with mental illness.
Two drag queens move through the city on a night of debauchery, insight, and revenge. **Filmmaker in attendance**
In the chaos of 1969’s Stonewall riots, a cop and a drag queen share a dark past. This surreal, intense period piece blends marginalization and taboos toward homosexuality into a personal drama that epitomizes the greater confrontation at the time.
IINTERNATIONAL PREMIERE VIFF favourite Phil Grabsky (The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan, VIFF 04; In Search of Beethoven, VIFF 09; In Search of Chopin, VIFF 14) returns with this probing and celebratory documentary on the work of Britain’s greatest living artist, David Hockney. Focusing on two exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, in 2012 and 2016, the film features extensive, in-depth interviews with Hockney himself. And, with Grabsky at the helm, you know the images will be both beautiful and revealing. **Filmmaker in attendance**