Twilight’s Kiss directoed by Ray Yeung
Twilight’s Kiss directed by Ray Yeung

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 (VIFF) announce the complete programming lineup for the  Impact, M/A/D and Insights film streams; the Altered States, Gateway, International Shorts and MODES film series; and Canadian short film series VIFF Short Forum, coupled with the cohort for the Catalyst mentorship program for its 39th edition.

Impact features uncompromising films that spark action and change the way we view the world. M/A/D showcases music, art and design-inspired films that receive aesthetically alluring big-screen treatments. Insights houses nonfiction films that investigate essential, timely subject matter.

Altered States celebrates fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification. Gateway showcases compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by East Asia’s most adventurous artists. International Shorts highlight the work of filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the short form. MODES presents works that subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance.

The VIFF Short Forum is a showcase for the myriad perspectives and approaches that are redefining Canadian short filmmaking. Catalyst is a cohort-based facilitated mentorship program, which provides new and aspiring filmmakers with the tools they need to embolden their cinematic voices.

Impact showcases two Canadian premieres and two international premieres. Highlights include: the world premiere of I Am Not a Hero by Pablo Crutzen, Robin Smit and Stijn Deconinck, a Belgian feature and the first documentary about COVID-19 and the incredible healthcare workers on the frontlines; Women in Blue by Deirdre Fishel, a look at the Minneapolis Police Department with new, startling footage about George Floyd’s death; The Forum by Marcus Vetter, an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the World Economic Forum and Greta Thunberg’s historic call to action; and the Canadian premiere of The Hidden Life of Trees by Jörg Adolph, based on the bestselling book of the same name that features David Suzuki and the Pacific Northwest.

M/A/D includes seven films and four Canadian premieres. Highlights include: the world premiere of Frida Kahlo by Ali Ray, an insightful portrait of the artist; the Canadian premiere of Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible by Matthew Taylor, a look at the extraordinary legacy of the conceptual artist; and the North American premiere of My Rembrandt by Oeke Hoogendijk, a journey into the lives and passions of the ultra affluent and the art market.

Insights presents two world premieres and three North American premieres. Highlights include: the world premiere of My Voice Will Be With You by Bruno Tracq, a fascinating documentary about medical hypnosis; the Canadian premiere of Into the Storm by Adam Brown, the tale of a scrappy Peruvian teen who dreams of becoming a professional surfer; the Canadian premiere of The Race to Alaska by Zach Carver, a five-year look at the daring DIY boating race stretching across the 750 miles of the Inside Passage; and the Canadian premiere of Super Frenchie by Chase Ogden, an intimate portrait of professional skier and BASE jumper Matthias Giraud.

Altered States presents the hotly anticipated world premiere of BC-made The Curse of Willow Song from award-winning director Karen Lam. The film recently won accolades at the 2020 Leo Awards in the motion picture category: Lam for Best Direction and Thomas Billingsley for Best Cinematography. Shot against the backdrop of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, The Curse of Willow Song follows the harrowing story of a recovering addict navigating her new life after prison. The series also features two buzzworthy BC premieres of international note: Jumbo, the directorial debut of France’s Zoé Wittock, is an intoxicating amalgam of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fantasticism and David Cronenberg’s fetishism, whereby a misfit girl falls in love with a theme park’s carnival ride; and Special Actors from Japanese director Shinichiro Ueda, about a young man who dreams of stardom, but suffers from a medical condition that causes him to faint when he gets nervous.

Gateway includes five Canadian premieres, two international premieres and one North American premiere. Highlights include: the Canadian premiere of Fantasporto Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner Dancing Mary by Japanese director SABU, a paean to love and fidelity as well as living (or dying) dangerously; the Canadian premiere of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival official selection Beauty Water by director Cho Kyung-hun, a scathing critique of South Korea’s patriarchal, body-shaming culture; the Canadian premiere of Hong Kong Film Award winner Twilight’s Kiss from director Ray Yeung, a touching love story about two seniors imagining a life together in Hong Kong; the international premiere of The Town of Headcounts by Japanese director Shinji Araki, a chilling yet beguiling thriller with electrifying tension throughout; A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic by Japanese director Kenji Katagiri, a rare, revealing probe into the toll of Japan’s ubiquitous drinking culture; and The Calming by Chinese director Song Fang, an exploration of the inner life of a woman through the observation of external signs: watch the flowers, plants, trees and butterflies for a constantly modulating commentary.

International Shorts presents four distinct programs: Animated Shorts, a showcase of artistry featuring everything from the digital technical wizardry of Dreamworks to marvelous puppet animation; Come Hell or…, a timely exploration of themes of commitment, sacrifice and identity in the midst of hardship; Release Me From This Darkness, a dark yet hopeful selection that examines victims of a world gone wrong, dysfunctional families and racial and homophobic prejudice; and Tell Us About Her Life, a moving collection that highlights stories about women — from illumninating dramas to semi-experimental pieces about groundbreaking women, everyday heroines and flawed characters.

A Month of Single Frames
A Month of Single Frames

MODES presents two Canadian premieres, nine North American premieres and representation from 18 countries, including Operation Jane Walk (performance) — Live Streaming Event, from Austrian artists Robin Klengel and Leonhard Müllner. This award-winning interactive online performance, set within the confines of a built-to-scale multiplayer shooter game (Tom Clancy’s The Division), is repurposed as an avatar-universe for a guided architectural tour of New York. An active experience, the audience chats live with the tour guides, presenting a dynamic group experience during these COVID-defined times. Additional highlights include: the North American premiere of Digital Funeral: Beta Version by Thai director Sorayos Prapapan, which examines the limitations of digital life within the cinematic form; the North American premiere of Becoming Alluvium by director Thao Nguyen Phan, about Vietnam’s troubled history and the Mekong river’s current ecological state; the Canadian premiere of director Lynn Sachs’ Oberhausen award winner A Month of Single Frames, in which she was invited to rework the material created by her friend and peer, Barbara Hammer, an experimental pioneer and queer icon; and Berlin’s Teddy Award winner, Playback, from director Agustina Comedi, a manifesto honouring a group of trans women and drag queens who faced the AIDS epidemic and fought the violence of the conservative ideals underpinning Argentina’s military dictatorship.

The VIFF Short Forum official competition will showcase 15 short films by BC creators, eight world premieres and four Canadian premieres. The BC-produced films will compete for Best BC Short Film, a $5,000 cash prize presented by TELUS STORYHIVE. All 40 shorts will vie for Best Canadian Short Film, which comes with a $2,000 cash prize from VIFF and a $15,000 in colour grading and/or VFX services credit supplied from Side Street Post.

Highlights from the official competition include: the North American premiere of Foam by Omar Elhamy, about a man who returns to work at a carwash after serving time in prison; the world premiere of Canucks Riot II by Lewis Bennett, a look at the chaos in the streets of Vancouver following the Canucks’ loss in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals; the world premiere of Parlour Palm by Rebeccah Love, about an overworked lawyer attempting to care for his partner enduring a climate crisis-inspired, anxiety-fuelled manic episode; and the Canadian premiere of Breaking Up for the Modern Girl by Sydney Nicole Herauf, an anthropological satire of heartbreak in the modern age. Also on the lineup, three shorts by former Catalyst participants: Vaivén by Nisha Platzer, Laura by Kaayla Whachell and Sunken Cave and a Migrating Bird by Qiuli Wu.

Additionally, the VIFF Short Forum will once again include Intersecting Voices, a non-competitive showcase of work by emerging Indigenous filmmakers curated by Amanda Strong and Tristin Greyeyes. Featuring diverse perspectives and bold approaches to storytelling, each of these films embraces tradition while demonstrating an individual sensibility.

In its third year, Catalyst offers emerging, underrepresented filmmakers the opportunity to meet and be mentored by artists and industry professionals with a level of equality in a facilitated and intimate setting. The 2020 cohort includes 15 participants, who will receive a professional development stipend, a full online festival subscription, eight exclusive flagship group sessions, and one-on-one mentorship opportunities. The 2020 cohort is: Jade Baxter, Hannah Dubois, Justin Ducharme, Kevin Feng, Michelle Kee, Carter Kirilenko, Kunsang Kyirong, Evan Luchkow, Katrina Mugume, Omorose Osagie, Kama Sood, Anaïsa Visser, Jackson Wai Chung Tse, Carolyn Yonge and Katie Zalazar.

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 Impact, M/A/D and  Insights Films Lineup


Uncompromising films that spark action and change the way we see the world

Caught in the Net (dirs. Barbora Chalupová, Vít Klusák, Czech Rep/Slovakia) | Canadian Premiere
Citizen Penn (dir. Don Hardy, USA) | International Premiere
Cured (dirs. Bennett Singer, Patrick Sammon, USA) | International Premiere The Forum (dir. Marcus Vetter, Germany/Switzerland)
The Hidden Life of Trees (dir. Jörg Adolph, Germany) | Canadian Premiere
I Am Not a Hero (dirs. Pablo Crutzen, Robin Smit, Stijn Deconinck, Belgium) | World Premiere
The Reason I Jump (dir. Jerry Rothwell, UK/USA)
Women in Blue (dir. Deirdre Fishel, USA)


Music, art and design receive an aesthetically alluring big-screen treatment

Frida Kahlo (dir. Ali Ray, UK) | World Premiere
In the Tracks of – Special Edition (dir. Pascale Cuenot, France)
Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President (dir. Mary Wharton, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Maguy Marin: Time to Act (dir. David Mambouch, France) | Canadian Premiere
Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible (dir. Matthew Taylor, USA) | Canadian Premiere
My Rembrandt (dir. Oeke Hoogendijk, Netherlands) | North American Premiere
Paris Calligrammes (dir. Ulrike Ottinger, Germany/France) | Canadian Premiere


Nonfiction films that investigate essential subject matter

Anerca, Breath of Life (dirs. Johannes Lehmuskallio, Markku Lehmuskallio, Finland) | North American Premiere The Crossing (dir. Juliana Penaranda-Loftus, USA) | World Premiere
Down a Dark Stairwell (dir. Ursula Liang, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Into the Storm (dir. Adam Brown, UK/Peru) | Canadian Premiere
Journey to Utopia (dir. Erlend E. Mo, Denmark/Sweden/Norway) | Canadian Premiere
My Voice Will Be With You (dir. Bruno Tracq, Belgium/France) | World Premiere
Once Upon a Time in Venezuela (dir. Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, Venezuela/UK/Austria/Brazil)
The Race to Alaska (dir. Zach Carver, USA/Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Still Into You (dir. Anu Kuivalainen, Finland) | North American Premiere
Super Frenchie (dir. Chase Ogden, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Time (dir. Garrett Bradley, USA)
The Truffle Hunters (dir. Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw, Italy/USA/Greece)
Wolf Walk (dir. Jean-Michel Bertrand, France) | North American Premiere

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 Altered States, Gateway,  International Shorts and MODES Film Series Lineup


Fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification

The Curse of Willow Song (dir. Karen Lam, Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
Jumbo (dir. Zoé Wittock, France)
Lapsis (dir. Noah Hutton, USA)
Possessor (dir. Brandon Cronenberg, Canada/UK) | Canadian Premiere
Sanzaru (dir. Xia Magnus, USA)
Special Actors (dir. Shinichiro Ueda, Japan)
Violation (dirs. Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli, Canada)


Compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by East Asia’s most adventurous artists.

Beauty Water (dir. Cho Kyung-hun, South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
The Calming (dir. Song Fang, China)
Dancing Mary (dir. SABU, Japan) | Canadian Premiere
A Life Turned Upside Down: My Dad’s an Alcoholic (dir. Kenji Katagiri, Japan)
Memories to Choke on, Drinks to Wash Them Down (dirs. Leung Ming-kai, Kate Reilly, Hong Kong) | Canadian Premiere
Mickey on the Road (dir. Lu Mian Mian, Taiwan) | North American Premiere
Moving on (dir. Yoon Dan-bi, South Korea) | Canadian Premiere
My Prince Edward (dir. Norris Wong Yee-lam, Hong Kong)
The Town of Headcounts (dir. Shinji Araki, Japan) | International Premiere
Twilight’s Kiss (dir. Ray Yeung, Hong Kong) | Canadian Premiere


Filmmakers pushing the boundaries of the short form

Animated Tales

Empty Places (dir. Geoffroy de Crécy, France)
Homeless Home (dir. Alberto Vázquez, France/Spain)
Malakout (dir. Farnoosh Abedi, Iran) | Canadian Premiere
The Parrot Lady (dir. Michalis Kalopaidis, Cyprus) | Canadian Premiere
The Roses of Damascus (dirs. Gabriel Gonzalez Guirola, Yasmina Touzani, France) | International Premiere
Sheep, Wolf and a Cup of Tea… (dir. Marion Lacourt, France) | North American Premiere
To: Gerard (dir. Taylor Meacham, USA)
To the Dusty Sea (dir. Héloïse Ferlay, France)
Wade (dirs. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, Kalp Sanghvi, India) | Canadian Premiere
The Winter (dir. Xin Li, Australia)

Come Hell or…

À La Carte (dir. Jay Do, Vietnam) | Canadian Premiere
Flawless (dir. Nathan Franck, France) | International Premiere
Flush (dir. Diego Freitas, Brazil) | World Premiere
Sin Cielo (dir. Jianna Maarten, USA)
The Twins(dirs. Cru Bannon, Douglas Ho, Yuriz Joe, Malaysia) | International Premiere
Union County (dir. Adam Meeks, USA) | Canadian Premiere
White Eye (dir. Tomer Shushan, Israel)

Release Me From This Darkness

Destructors (dir. Otis Tree, UK) | World Premiere
Home (dir. Alex von Hofmann, Australia) | World Premiere
The Hunter (dir. Sam McConnell, USA) | World Premiere
Imelda and Luis (dir. Leonel Chee, Mexico) | World Premiere
In This Land We’re Briefly Ghosts (dir. Chen-Wen Lo, Myanmar) | Canadian Premiere
Not a Word (dir. Élodie Wallace, France)
Of Memories and Madness (dir. Maria de la Ossa, Panama)
Widowers (dir. Julian Tuna, Australia) | World Premiere

Tell Us About Her Life

The Book of Ruth (dir. Becca Roth, USA) | International Premiere
I want to make a film about women (dir. Karen Pearlman, Australia) | International Premiere
Illusione (dir. Lorenzo Quagliozzi, Italy) | World Premiere
Jane (dir. Kathryn Prescott, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Little Chief (dir. Erica Tremblay, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Now, Daphne (dir. Johann G. Louis, France)
She (dir. Matt Greenhalgh, UK) | Canadian Premiere
A Woman (dir. Tahmina Rafaella, Azerbaijan)


Works that subvert the dominant gaze and offer gestures of resistance

All, or Nothing at All (dirs. Persijn Broersen, Margit Lukács, Denmark/Netherlands | North American Premiere
Becoming Alluvium (dir. Thao Nguyen Phan, Spain/Vietnam) | North American Premiere
Bittersweet (dir. Sohrab Hura, India) | North American Premiere
A Demonstration (dirs. Sasha Litvintseva, Beny Wagner, Netherlands/Germany/UK) | North American Premiere
Digital Funeral: Beta Version (dir. Sorayos Prapapan, Thailand) | North American Premiere (e)scape goat (dir. Sid Iandovka, USA/Switzerland) | North American Premiere
The End of Suffering (a proposal) (dir. Jacqueline Lentzou, Greece) | North American Premiere
How to Disappear (dirs. Total Refusal: Leonhard Müllner, Robin Klengel, Michael Stumpf, Austria) | Canadian Premiere
In Times of Deception (dir. Michael Heindl, Colombia/Bolivia/Chile/Peru) | North American Premiere
A Month of Single Frames (dir. Lynne Sachs, made with and for Barbara Hammer, USA) | Canadian Premiere
Playback (dir. Agustina Comedi, Argentina) | Canadian Premiere
Operation Jane Walk (performance) — Live Streaming Event (dir. and performance Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, Austria) | North American Premiere

Vancouver International Film Festival 2020 Canadian Short Film Series VIFF Short Forum and Catalyst Mentorship Program


A showcase of the myriad perspectives and approaches that are redefining Canadian short filmmaking

Aniksha (dir. Vincent Toi, Canada)
The Archivists (dir. Igor Drljaca, Canada)
As Spring Comes (dir. Marie-Ève Juste, Canada)
August 22, This Year (dir. Graham Foy, Canada)
Bad Omen (dir. Salar Pashtoonyar, Canada/Afghanistan) | World Premiere
Benny’s Best Birthday (dir. Benjamin Schuetze, Canada)
Black Forest Sanatorium (dir. Diana Thorneycroft, Canada)
Boredom (dir. Mashie Alam, Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Breaking Up for the Modern Girl (dir. Sydney Nicole Herauf, Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Cake Day (dir. Phillip Thomas, Canada)
Canucks Riot II (dir. Lewis Bennett, Canada) | World Premiere
Cosmic (dir. Meredith Hama-Brown, Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Deeper I Go (dir. Michael P. Vidler, Canada) | World Premiere
êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines (dir. Theola Ross, Canada)
Even in the Silence (dir. Jonathan Elliott, Canada)
Every Day’s Like This (dir. Lev Lewis, Canada)
The Fake Calendar (dir. Meky Ottawa, Canada)
First Person Shooter (dir. Cole Kush, Canada) | World Premiere
Foam (dir. Omar Elhamy, Canada) | North American Premiere
The Fourfold (dir. Alisi Telengut, Canada)
Girls Shouldn’t Walk Alone at Night (dir. Katerine Martineau, Canada)
The Great Malaise (dir. Catherine Lepage, Canada)
Into Water (dir. Cole Forrest, Canada)
Laura (dir. Kaayla Whachell, Canada)
Moon (dir. Zoé Pelchat, Canada)
A New Leash on Life (dir. Daniel Jeffery, Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Nuxalk Radio (dir. Banchi Hanuse, Canada)
Parlour Palm (dir. Rebeccah Love, Canada) | World Premiere
Rag Doll (dir. Leon Lee, Canada) | Canadian Premiere
Spring Tide (dir. Jean Parsons, Canada)
Strong Son (dir. Ian Bawa, Canada)
Succor (dir. Hannah Cheesman, Canada)
Sunken Cave and a Migrating Bird (dir. Qiuli Wu, Canada) | World Premiere
Toward You (dir. Meysam Motazedi, Canada) | World Premiere
The Train Station (dir. Lyana Patrick, Canada)
The Trip (dirs. Mikizi Migona Papatie, Canada)
tu (dir. Suzanne Friesen, Canada) | World Premiere
Uu?uu~tah (dir. Chad Charlie, Canada/USA)
Vaivén (dir. Nisha Platzer, Canada)
ZOO (dir. Will Niava, Canada)

Intersecting Voices

Coyote’s Canoe (dir. Gloria Morgan, Canada)
The Foundation: Indigenous Hip Hop in Canada (dir. Diana Hellson, Canada)
Heli, Set Ŧte Sḱál Ƚte (Bringing our language back to life) (dir. Renée Sampson, Canada)
Keemooch (dirs. Nathan Adler, Howard Adler, Canada)
My Mother My Rock (dir. Kelly Roulette, Canada)
A Place to Belong (dir. Lyana Patrick, Rosemary Georgeson, Canada)
This Bright Flash (dir. Rylan Friday, Canada)
Uncle Tommy Goes Back (dir. Jamaine Campbell, Canada)
XO Rad Magical (dir. Christopher Gilbert Grant, Canada)
ʔiiḥtuup (Whale) (dir. Tanner Zurkoski, Canada)

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