The 34th Vancouver International Film Festival will run from September 24th to October 9th, 2015 with John Crowley’s Brooklyn starting the festival off in the Opening Night Gala spot. With scripting by Nick Hornby (Wild, An Education), this 50s-era immigration film is an exhilarating tale of female empowerment. Marc Abraham’s I Saw the Light holds the Closing Night Gala position with a feature on the life of country star Hank Williams. Produced by Vancouver’s Bron Studios, this film reflects the best in BC’s ongoing production boom. Canadian productions remain front and centre when Philippe Falardeau’s My Internship in Canada opens the Canadian Images program, while Patricia Rozema’s Into the Forest takes the BC Spotlight Awards Gala spot.
The complete list of films in the Gala and Special Presentation categories include:
(JOHN CROWLEY, UK/IRELAND/CANADA)
Lured from Ireland by the American Dream, Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) instead lands in a hardscrabble reality of cramped boarding houses and grungy dancehalls. As homesickness grips her, she’s also torn between two admirers (Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen). With Nick Hornby scripting, John Crowley crafts a stirring 50s-era immigration tale that also serves as an exhilarating profile of female empowerment. “Classily and classically crafted in the best sense.” — Hollywood Reporter
I Saw the Light
(MARC ABRAHAM, USA)
Having played gods and monsters with aplomb, Tom Hiddleston takes centre stage as country music legend/renegade Hank Williams. In turns as rambunctious as a barn dance and as reflective as a ballad, Marc Abraham’s film chronicles Williams’ rapid ascent to stardom and the tragedy of a career cut short by substance abuse. Laid to rest at only 29, Williams left behind a truly remarkable body of work. Handling the singing chores himself, Hiddleston does the man—and his music—proud.
Canadian Images Opening Film
My Internship in Canada
(PHILIPPE FALARDEAU, CANADA)
Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar) returns with an energetic, laugh-out-loud political comedy that couldn’t be more timely. Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard, brilliant) is an independent Quebec MP travelling to his northern riding with a new Haitian intern. Soon after finding themselves caught in the crossfire of activists, miners, truckers, politicians and aboriginal groups, it turns out that Guibord somehow holds the decisive vote in a national debate that will decide whether Canada will go to war in the Middle East! The fabulous Suzanne Clément co-stars.
BC Spotlight Awards Gala
Into the Forest
(PATRICIA ROZEMA, CANADA)
The BC coastal forest is in all its glory as a father and his two daughters drive off to their remote and idyllic getaway home. They have little sense at first of the growing apocalypse that they are leaving in their wake. It will come to them. Ellen Page, Evan Rachel Wood, Max Minghella, Callum Keith Rennie and Michael Eklund star in this Patricia Rozema-directed adaptation of Jean Hegland’s novel.
(DEEPA MEHTA, CANADA/INDIA)
Mix propulsive bhangra beats, blazing AK-47s, bespoke suits, solicitous mothers and copious cocaine, and you have the heady, volatile cocktail that is Deepa Mehta’s latest film, an explosive clash of culture and crime. Jeet Johar (Indian star Randeep Hooda) and his young, charismatic Sikh crew vie to take over the Vancouver drug and arms trade in this all-out action/drama. Blood is spilled, heads are cracked, hearts are broken and family bonds are pushed to the brink.
(MIGUEL GOMES, PORTUGAL)
Miguel Gomes’ (Tabu, Our Beloved Month of August) astonishing three-volume, six-hour epic draws inspiration from the tales of Scheherazade (here played by Crista Alfaiate) and once again uses a fascinating combination of reality and fiction to comment on Portugal’s past, present and future. “There’s Bunuelian satire, lo-fi crime, Brechtian allegory, and high fantasy all in the mix. It’s dizzying stuff… a film that’s moving, sad, exciting, fiery, and funny.” — Indiewire
(JACQUES AUDIARD, FRANCE)
Jacques Audiard’s (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) latest dramatic inquiry into life on society’s margins is an alternately gripping and tender love story about the eponymous former Tamil fighter (Antonythasan Jesuthasan) and his improvised family, who exchange war in Sri Lanka for violence of another kind in Paris. “A searing yet hopeful slow-burn drama… Audiard delivers another distinctive [work] with this portrait of a family forged out of necessity…” — Hollywood Reporter Palme d’Or, Cannes 15
(BEN WHEATLEY, UK)
Ben Wheatley’s bold adaptation of JG Ballard’s novel takes no prisoners. This scorching satire on class, hedonism and depravity in an imploding luxury apartment building is an even more apocalyptic class polemic than Snowpiercer. Throw in exquisitely unsettling turns from Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons, a string quartet cover of ABBA’s 1975 hit “SOS,” an orgy or two and spice with cannibalism, and you have a tour de force of astonishing architectural ambition.
Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words
(STIG BJÖRKMAN, SWEDEN), CANADIAN PREMIERE
Casablanca, Notorious, Voyage to Italy… That Ingrid Bergman, three-time Oscar winner, is one of filmdom’s all-time greats is inarguable. Narrated by Swedish (and now Hollywood) star Alicia Vikander, Stig Björkman’s intimate exploration of Bergman’s personal and professional life benefits immensely from the cooperation of Bergman’s daughter Isabella Rossellini, who allowed him access to never-before-seen private footage, notes, letters, diaries and interviews. The result is a rich and multicoloured portrait of this extraordinary human being—in her own words.
Louder Than Bombs
(JOACHIM TRIER, USA/FRANCE)
When a war photographer (Isabelle Huppert) dies on assignment, her husband (Gabriel Byrne) struggles to mount a retrospective while dealing with his grieving sons (Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid) and her combative colleague (David Strathairn). Joachim Trier (Oslo, 31st August) poses tough questions about family, marital responsibility and balancing one’s calling and kin. “A smart, measured tale steeped in understatement and complimented by first-rate performances…” — Indiewire
(LENNY ABRAHAMSON, IRELAND/CANADA/UK)
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson and based on the best-selling Man Booker Prize-nominated novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue, this is the story of five-year old Jack, who lives in an 11-by-11-foot room with his mother. Since it’s all he’s ever known, Jack believes that only “Room” and the things it contains (including himself and Ma) are real. Then reality intrudes and Jack’s life is turned on its head… A remarkable and disturbing work.
A Tale of Three Cities
(MABEL CHEUNG, HONG KONG/CHINA)
A rousingly entertaining movie romance, this historical drama tells the deeply moving story of kung fu superstar Jackie Chan’s parents. Both grew up in China’s tumultuous 20th century, swept by war, revolution and resistance. When charismatic customs officer Fang (Lau Ching-wan) meets impoverished young widow Chen (Tang Wei), an unbreakable bond is forged. Together, their love endures through extraordinary adventures, as they head towards a future in Hong Kong.
This Changes Everything
(AVI LEWIS, CANADA)
Naomi Klein (Shock Doctrine) has risen to prominence around the world as one of Canada’s most forceful and relevant public intellectuals. Her cogent call to direct action has inspired youth, helped chart roadmaps for social progressives and environmentalists, and yet worried those who believe that her critique of capitalism plays into the hands of right wingers who think climate change is a socialist plot. Join us, Naomi Klein and director Avi Lewis for this special presentation of This Changes Everything.
(PAOLO SORRENTINO, ITALY/FRANCE/SWITZERLAND/UK)
Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz anchor Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeous follow-up to The Great Beauty. Fred (Caine), a retired composer, and friend Mick (Keitel), a film director, are sojourning in a stunning Swiss alpine spa. Surrounded by bodies old and young, supple and sagging, they reconsider their pasts–while Sorrentino choreographs the action with exquisite control. “Sorrentino’s… brightly effusive visual imagination can be intoxicating…” — New York Times
Canadian Images Special Presentations
(PAUL GROSS, CANADA)
In Paul Gross’ film, ripped from the headlines, a sniper, who has never allowed himself to think of his targets as human, becomes implicated in the life of one of them. An intelligence officer, who has never contemplated killing, becomes the engine of a plot to kill. A legendary Mujahideen warrior, who had put war behind him, is now deeply involved. Three different men, three different worlds, three different conflicts, yet all stand at the intersection of modern warfare.
(ATOM EGOYAN, CANADA)
Atom Egoyan returns with a completely original take on the darkest chapter of horror in the last century. Christopher Plummer plays a man who’s looking for the person who might be responsible for wiping out his family, as he strains to seize the evanescent memories of long-ago brutality. The all-star cast includes Henry Czerny, Martin Landau and Bruno Ganz. Benjamin August’s screenplay will keep you guessing until the very end.