Monday, September 26, 2005

Festival Diary: Vacation Day 4a: Glorious Friday Continued

Saturday, September 24, 2005

10:10am – And finish last night’s blog in the morning I will. My ears are faring a little bit better after leaving the Commodore last night, and I woke up around 9am, a bit angered since I wanted to wake up at about 10 or so to really shake off the long day yesterday. All of last night and this morning I have been listening to The New Pornographers, which you will find out why later.

So let’s begin talking about Friday, my first real day of festivalgoing:

After I chomped down on some lukewarm bacon and eggs, along with some very cold hashbrowns and crappy coffee, I began my first official walk into Vancouver to take in some press screenings (I say official since I already made a walk into Van last week as mentioned in my entry last Sunday). It was sunny and warm outside, a very good blessing to begin my vacation (although one thing tells me that it’s going to start pouring rain in a week in paying for this good weather). I find myself having my now official route for VIFF; down West 12th to Granville and then a straight shot north across the bridge to find myself on Seymour street. When the weather is good, it’s a very enjoyable and energetic walk. And I should be doing it since I will be sitting on my ass for the next six hours.

I arrive at the Vancity Theater about 9:40 and my first festivalgoer encounter is Gary, a chap from San Francisco who has been here since the very first festival screening and is planning, like me, to do several movies a day. We shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and he thanks me for mentioning him in my coverage for VIFF last year. He is worth mentioning since he saw 115 films by the time the festival ended.

Suddenly, in walks Sascha, a good friend from VIFF last year whom I also had the pleasure of spending time with when he was in Victoria earlier this year for a teacher’s conference. Sascha is one opinionated, storytelling, joke-making son-of-a…I jest. We have seen many movies together and have had several fun discussions and arguments about VIFF films.

And then I encounter one of the staples of my festivalgoing, a true film-fest friend that I have had for over two years now…Ralph Henderson. This is a festivalgoer for the books. I met Ralph at one of my very first media screenings back in 2003 when I was a wide-eyed, bouncing off walls kid (oh wait, I still am!!) and we have attended many of the same screenings both at VIFF ’03 and ’04. Ralph is a helpful volunteer that works hard early on in the fest so he can do just about as many films as Gary. I yelled out his name from a few rows away and gave the gent a big hug. It was truly a pleasure to see him again.

I also encountered a few other faces from last year that I have met and had the pleasure of speaking with, along with the occasional new face in the crowd. I mention all of these people because I have to; the VIFF would not be the festival it is without the amazing community of film fans within. You find some of these people at various other film festivals but certainly not the major ones; it is all about business at Toronto, Sundance and the like, whereas Vancouver is a true audience festival. And it’s just “not” big enough to give us the room to actually do this.

Anyway, more about the new Vancity theater. The cinema seats about 185 in a tiered seating fashion, so the cinema is right up to date with all of the popular stadium seating cinemas of today. But the real winner of the cinema is the seating…ultra wide, European seats that are so amazingly comfy that all I could hope for is a foot-stool to come out. For those of you who dislike strangers sitting in the seat right next to you, the double-arm rests take care of that pretty quick. Suddenly those seats at the Tinseltown just aren’t the same…

The projection booth is also enormous and therefore viewable directly from the auditorium, so you can see the huge double Kinoton projectors and the projectionist working hard to get his work done. The screen is a curiosity, using “Grid masking”, meaning that there are black borders around the image as usual, but the unused portions of the screen are still visible around the edges. Perhaps this is a system that I am not familiar with but it did take a while to get used to.

The first film of the day was the Portugal import “Odete”, an intentionally slow moving drama named after the film’s lead character, who is a supermarket worker who may or may not be pregnant with the baby from his dead boyfriend, who, as it turns out, also had a gay lover. Odete meets the gay lover at the boyfriend’s grave and the two create one of the oddest relationships I’ve seen in a movie in quite a while. It doesn’t always work, but the timing of certain sequences along with some truly bizarre sequences towards the end make the film stand out as a whole. Add to that, the actress playing Odete, the lovingly named Ana Cristina de Oliveria, reminds me of a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Keira Knightley. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

The next screening was “State of Fear”, a telling documentary about the war status in Peru told through various testimony of people who were afflicted before the terrorist takeover to afterwards when the country was overrun with the Shining Path who was against the Peruvian Government. The film has some truly horrifying video footage (including the secret taping of bribing big wigs in the government with millions of dollars) along with a sad testimony from a connected woman who was raped and tortured. The film also has room for some mild humour, including a scene where Carlos Raffi, the spokesman for the Peru president, who ignores the interview while taking a call on his cell phone.

I do not know much about the Chinese propaganda films made during the 70’s (for several years around that time, these operas and the cinematic versions were the only thing allowed to play in China!), but “Yang Bax Xi: The 8 Model Works”, the next film on the press screening roster, focuses on the Yang Bax Xi opera today as the film follows several people – mainly many youthful dancing groups – and gives us a look back to the cultural change of communist China before things changed a few decades ago. The problem with this movie, despite its great subject, is that the film is plodding and slow, and did not hold much interest despite its thesis (kind of like the film “Scaredsacred” which is playing in Vancouver right now). While some of the street dance sequences and the old film footage are fun to watch, the slow interviews and performance footage later in the film (one of which is so boringly shot entirely from a backstage angle) sadly take away from the overall idea.

And finally, the last screening on tap is the terrific “Souvenir of Canada” which is about the country, through and through, told from the perspective of novelist Douglas Coupland, who creates a “Canada House” built from a home that is planning to be demolished. The film intercuts the documentary footage with commentary on many aspects of Canadian culture such as the dead-and-gone slogan “Chimo”, French/English cereal boxes (and as you may have noticed, DVD covers as well), universal health care and those pesky Canada geese. As well, the film is a sharp commentary on the fellows down south who always poke fun at us and the slight but noticeable differences. You Americans would also be good to watch this film.

Crap. After writing so much I realized I have to get ready to go for a Tinseltown run! Egad. I will be back tonight with more commentary on Friday, which you may actually get to see on Sunday. J

12:40am – Okay I’m back after viewing not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE movies in the span of a day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. PHEW!

I must continue on with my wonderful Friday. As the press screening ended, I decided to for a walk to help clear my head of viewing four movies. Keep in mind that this is downtown Vancouver and I have many favorite walking paths. At around 5:30 or so, I find myself walking towards the Skytrain Stadium station and find Nicholas Campbell, Mr. “Davinci Inquest” himself, strolling slowly up Dunsmuir with his head pointed towards the ground. Quite an odd local celeb sighting, I must say.

So after killing some time, mostly involving grabbing some dinner and quickly visiting an internet bar, I make my way to the Commodore to check out The New Pornographers. I find myself in a queue of about 50 or so ahead of us. A few moments pass and a few panhandlers go by, and then I start chatting it up with two really interesting people in line named Nick and Lindsay. All three of us immediately into conversation about our favorite Pornographers disc (mine is “Twin Cinema” though “Mass Romantic” sure gives it a run for its money) which winds up helping kill the time quite well.

We find our way into the Commodore at 8 and get right to the stage. Luckily Nick, Lindsay and myself have secured a choice spot right infront of one of the keyboards set up. Boom. I am there. Lindsay excuses herself for a short while so she can meet our friend while Nick and I chat up music and movies for the 45 minutes or so until concerts begin. I must say at this point that I really enjoy meeting new people, and Nick, a VFS student in the computer animation sector, is a true blue music nut, frequently hitting up many of the indie bands that make their way to the rainy city.

At roughly 9:00, the first opening, Immaculate Machine take the stage. This is a three-person band from my home town of Victoria, and as luck would have it, the adorable lead singer and keyboard player is standing right infront of me as she begins to lay down a very catchy opening tune. The band do about 6 or 7 songs, all with a very good, “fun” rock sound. A few around us were mentioning afterwards that they sounded “plain”, but I thought they were pretty good.

Destroyer hit next at about 10:00 as I get my first full view of Dan Bejar who looked like he fell out of bed dressed in his pink shirt and jeans. The gang launch into a roughly 8 song set, where a few of the tunes are full rock versions of his masterful “Your Blues” album from last year. Bejar’s voice is addictive, including a poetic finishing line to one of the songs in his set. The crowd is beginning to get fuller and crowd towards the stage at this point. Suddenly, my “bubble” is starting to get smaller, thinking that the arm space will be non existent after these guys get off the stage.

I was right. As Destroyer finished their set, people began to get as near as they could to the stage. I was standing next to Nick at this point and we held our best so people couldn’t squeeze in. The LAST thing I wanted was to be was pushed to the right or the left out of frame of the band. My eyes were like they were recording a personal documentary on the fest, and my digital camera is my rock and roll Zapruder stock.

Finally, The New Pornographers take the stage. Newman has his mic set up almost directly infront of me; complete within spitting range. Neko Case is off to the left a little, but I can still get a view of her in a complete yellow gown (with wings!). The crowd goes absolutely wild as they launch into their title track “Twin Cinema”, which is just as awesome live as it is on stage. Almost immediately after they seal that track, they launch into “Use It” and then continue afterwards…

For a total of 28 songs. Twenty-freakin-eight.

Every single track of theirs was played by the NP’s with complete energy. There was even time for improvisation, where the drummer starts playing Rumours by Fleetwood Mac as Newman fixes up his acoustic guitar, and even after Newman gets the guitar fixed he joins in to finish the song. There are also several occasions where Bejar is needed but he’s backstage sucking on Corona’s like they are candy. “One moment while Bejar is throwing up in the back,” jokes Newman. Or is he?

Through and through, they’re having fun doing this, and so are we. I did not realize how much I was dancing along with the music until I bumped into a guy next to me. And I then continued to dance crazily as they went through one wonderful song after another. “HEY-LA!!!” Even as they wound towards a close, they still came out for two more encores and banged it out of the park. One of these days I will have to scan their set list, which Lindsay nabbed from the stage and gave to me. I owe that girl a coke.

After the concert, I said goodbye to Lindsay and walked with Nick for a few blocks before parting ways, and had one of those wacky conversations where you praise the shit out of the concert while yelling at the top of your lungs, thinking that you are talking at a normal volume. My ears were completely shot as I walked home in a daze, playing Mass Romantic at a very low volume to take care of my ears.

Once again, PHEW!!! I’m off to bed. Watch tomorrow night as I post my weekend-wrap up, and afterwards I will not be making blog entries for a few days so I can get my festival work ready for my coverage. Hey-la!

Until then,

Jason Whyte

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Festival Diary: Vacation Day 4, aka. Glorious Friday

Friday, September 23, 2005

VIFF Movie Count: 9
Non Festival Movie Count: 7

7:56am – I wake up to a gorgeous, sunny, clear day. The view is spectacular outside of my 9th floor hotel room, although that in itself makes it nearly impossible to type outside on my laptop. I finally got sick of holding my hand over my head to block out the sun and came inside.

I had a small headache when I woke up. Perhaps it is still the insanity of the week getting the best of me and I’m hoping that a day of press screenings followed by a rockin’ concert will be just what I need to get into the festival groove. And as much as I want to see some of my old festival buddies again, Neko Case and Dan Bejar are in my head right now, refusing to get out. (Probably doesn’t help that I’m listening to “Mass Romantic” right now!)

And one thing is for sure – being in Vancouver is great to get the Georgia Straight on time (normally it takes about a week to get to Victoria and only then I will find it in an A&B sound) as it is a good entertainment read. This week’s edition lists all of the “Best of Vancouver” winners, and it was with much pleasure to see the great Tinseltown win the “Most comfortable theatre” award along with being the best place to see a first run picture, with the stadium crazy Paramount taking second seat. And the Ridge, as it should, won the best place to see a second run film. I think it’s the best place to see a movie, period (my previous diary entry can attest to that) but I’m glad it won again. It was followed by the Hollywood on West Broadway, which I am hoping to check out this weekend if time permits.

Anyhow…as my headache is leaving along with my New Pornographers disc coming to a close, I shall bid you one or two readers adieu as I prepare to chow down on some free breakfast (which, come to think of it, I actually did pay for) and make my way down to the Vancity. You wonderful VIFF’ers, get ready for one insane movie watcher.

2:34am – This is the sound that my ears are making right now: EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Who really knows where to begin? This is a day for the books. Up and on the go since 8am, I have been through my first bout of screenings and endured one of the best musical performances of my life.

Seriously, how could a concert be any more perfect? The New Pornographers did 27 songs tonight, performing edgy, brilliant, toe-tappin, head-bobbing perfect music, all with complete ease. I’m going to have to finish this in the morning.


Friday, September 23, 2005

Festival Diary: Vacation Day 3, Festival "Not Yet!"

Thursday, September 22, 2005

VIFF Movie Count: 5
Non Festival Movie Count: 7

Ahh, I have to love computer workstations on the ferry. This is a big help in passing the time….

9:20pm -- Okay, so I haven’t made a diary entry into the computer since Monday morning. I’ve been one busy fool; reviewing screeners, working crazy at Beechwood and keeping up to date with some of my friends and family. I was also surprised on Tuesday evening by the arrival of my amazing sister, Jen, as I was visiting my grandmothers’ house! Turns out Jen, now a San Francisco native, is visiting my parents in Qualicum until next Tuesday. Go Jen! It was a great visit.

So anyway. Along went the very, VERY slow week at work where my boss was getting ready for a special dinner on Friday night. A “Roaring 40’s Dinner and Dance”. I helped out where I could, but I think even he could see that I did not want to be there and rather be in Vancouver taking in one screening after another. I really dodged a bullet by booking Friday off months in advance; management had no call to get angry with me since I didn’t know about the special evening when I booked it!

It may be mayhem for them tomorrow night, but the mayhem begins tomorrow morning for me. Press screenings at the Vancity are in order, and once I get my screening fix, it’s off to the Commodore for a sure-to-be wicked cool concert by The New Pornographers. I will certainly be making a diary entry once I have had my ears successfully blown out. Follow that with regular screenings of Hollywood flicks on the weekend.

Addendum at 12:13am – PHEW! Endured the long ferry ride and the nauseating two busses needed to get towards the hotel, add to that the long walk with lots of weight in tow. The transport of goods is finally over, I’m relaxing in my pjamas at the hotel, and I’m ready for press screenings, baby! VIFF, hereth Jay Man cometh!!!

Until then,


Monday, September 19, 2005

Festival Diary: Vacation Day 2, Festival N/A

Day Two -- September 18th, 2005

VIFF Film Count: 1
Non-Festival Movie Count: 7

9:30am -- An odd bit of loneliness strikes me at this hour in the morning, possibly because waking up alone in a hotel room on a sunday morning is something I'm not used to. This is something that I'm sure I will get used to, although I didn't have this feeling last year when sleeping on Oz's couch. Then again, Oz was always fun to pester in the morning when he was barely awake!

This is a pretty nice hotel room for what it is small, it's boring and I'm hoping to be out of it as much as humanly possible. The TV is absolute crap with only a few channels working, but here's hoping it at least gets latenight (which is about the only thing I watch besides "The OC" and "Gilmore Girls")

Today is another round of moviegoing, with "Just Like Heaven" down at the Paramount, followed by "An Unfinished Life" at Tinseltown and then a double bill of "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and "My Summer of Love" down at the Ridge. One part of me is tempted to head home later tonight....

(Cutting myself off)

All of a sudden, I patched into a very weak internet connection from my hotel room! Well this is exciting...I can check email, which is very important. I just tested the browser and it is very slow when loading multiple pages. But hey, I'll take it! I feel like Richard Gilmore after his first foray into the wireless world. I'm sure if this is the case from the 9th floor of my hotel room, then I should have no problem patching into another network closer to town.

11:26pm - I LOVE The Ridge. I love love love LOVE The Ridge. It's my new favorite theater in Vancouver, but I'll get to that in a moment. The WIFI connection is much better on my balcony, and it's nice and cool, so methinks I will be doing a majority of my writing and emailin' out here!
I love to walk all over this city. After waking up and fiddling around with my WIFI connection, I plugged in my awesome Sigur Ros CD "Takk" (an Icelandic mood music that would go great with some Album Leaf music) and I started walking downtown to the Paramount to catch a screening of "Just Like Heaven". The weather was very good; a bit overcast but balmy temperature, so I decided to go without the jacket. Ten minutes into my walk and getting onto Granville, I realized I had made the right decision as I was getting pretty darn warm. As I got over the bridge, I found myself at the brand spankin' new Vancity Theater to have a look at the surroundings and was awestruck by the beauty of the outside. I was unable to get inside to visit the media office (the staff infront were unsure if the office was open; I'm thinking the fine people there were taking a little break) but no worries as I will be more than present there when I return to Vancouver on friday.

Still having a bit of time before my screening, I waltzed on over to the Lottery/Ticketmaster kiosk at Pacific Centre to get my Arcade Fire tickets. I did my usual AF thing and cranked "Funeral" right after grabbing my ticket, and yes, that CD is always on me (yes, I'm a crazy one).

Oooh, The Ebert Show is on. I'll be back...

(Aah, Ebert show done and back onto the balcony where it's nice and cool to continue writing.) After downing some delicious Beef, Bacon and Cheddar melts at Arby's, I trucked on over to the Paramount, my first visit to the new downtown megaplex after the Capitol 6 -- one of my favorite cinemas in Vancouver if for no other reason its 1000+ seat Cinema One was the reason I wrote a lengthy article for the decline of cinemas -- closed so the Paramount could open. And while I am definately not eating my words on my first visit to the place, it is a bit nicer and more elegant looking than the average megaplex in suburbia. One of the major drawbacks is a huge esclatator climb, especially to the higher level where five of the smaller screens are located. That said, the seats ARE very comfortable and a bit wider than your typical Silvercity Megaplex cinema.

But anyway, I found "Just Like Heaven" to be an effective romantic comedy that is far from original, but still contains interesting characters, some really funny scenes and a good amount of chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo. She's cute, he's likeable and it just kind of works, and it kind of reminded me of the old classic days of Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart. So yeah, it worked on me.

Aftewards, I walked on down to the Tinseltown to catch a matinee sneak preview of Lasse Hallstrom's "An Unfinished Life" which has been sitting on the soon-to-be-gone Miramax shelf for over two years now, mostly because of poor marketing in the past and the studio's inability to find a proper time to release it. A shame, because I found this one to be Hallstrom's best work yet from his endless contract to Miramax. The small town setting is beautifully photographed, and the performances by Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez and newcomer Becca Gardner (as Lopez' daughter) are all solid. The story, involving the reunion of an estranged family unit and an abusive ex-husband is stronger than you might expect.
As that screening ended, I decided to try something I had never done before; to walk all the way from Tinseltown to the Ridge theatre, which is a few miles apart from each other. As previously mentioned, I love to walk all over the place but I wasn't sure if I was able to handle it. The walk did take nearly an hour but it was worth it to sit in the gorgeous, 830 seat Ridge to see a double feature of "Me and You and Everyone We Know" and "My Summer of Love".
I had seen "Me and You" twice before -- it is currently within my top 5 of the year -- and this was my first time seeing it with a larger audience. And this reminded me why I don't like it at all. Snickering laughter throughout; mostly the kind of laughter where people are reacting to surprise by laughing at the screen. There was a guy two rows behind me that kept remarking OUT LOUD to his wife and she kept silencing him (this I don't get..she quietly goes "shh" instead of saying "Honey, you HAVE to stop talking since it is irritating. And that guy two rows infront of you is pointing a gun at you.") which drove me nuts. Now normally I love the moviegoing experience to have a communal way for people to come together for a movie, but the amount of laughter directed at the movie, even if it was laughing with, was still uncalled for. I then followed it up with a much quiter screening of the Brit import "My Summer of Love", a terrific film about two teenage girls who create an interesting relationship over the course of the summer. Great acting, especially from Paddy Considine as the religious freak show brother to one of the girls.

Now, it must be said that the experience of watching this at The Ridge was phenomanal. I have been here before, but it is always a treat to get that first glance of the auditorium, with rows and rows and rows of seats. But the real joy is the picture and video. There is true, state-of-the-art projectors and sound systems installed and I could not find a single visual or audio problem with the films whatsoever. Focus and framing were sharp as a tack, and the sound was alive and open, even for such small films. This and the Granville Cinema #7 downtown are by far the best VIFF venues you can visit during the fest.

Phew! Late, tired and I'm about to turn in. Back to Victoria to work for a few days, then back I come for the three week run of endless movies and losing sleep.
Until then,

Festival Diary: Vacation Day 1; Festival Day n/a

Day One - September 17th, 2005
VIFF Film Count: 1
Non-Festival Movie Count: 0

1:21 PM: Finally arrived in Vancouver!!! Comfortably checked into my hotel, unpacked my bags and I'm just about to head out to meet Marko to go see Batman Begins in IMAX at Silvercity Riverport (trust me, this was MY idea!!!). "The Greatest Game Ever Played" follows that, then perhaps a midnight show at the Paramount is in order. Whatever the case, I'm in Vancouver, baby!!! It's near vacation time!!!!

My laptop is telling me that there's a secure wireless network along with an unsecure wireless here's hoping somebody can help me tap into this network to have internet in the hotel!!! Otherwise I'll have to drag this thing to an internet bar or library that does WIFI to upload my reviews. Not a big deal either way as this laptop (I have yet to name it) will provide much entertainment, as well as seeing five movies a day will also keep me from my internet addiction.

1:10 AM: Arrived home from a day of doing what I do best in the Vancover world...going to see a lot of movies. Trouble is, not much opened in the art world in Van city this weekend, and what's worse is that I was stuck paying full price for each one!

I met up with my buddy Marko and headed in the opposite direction of suburbia to go see a few movies out at the slightly aging Silvercity Riverport.

First things first, seeing "Batman Begins: The IMAX Experience" was pretty sweet; a great film being blown up to gigantic proportions first worried me, but the image quality held up very well from 35mm anamorphic, and as always I was right inside the head of this film within the first 15 minutes. With that said, one part of me found keeping my head jerked in the correct place while all the action was unfolding was somewhat difficult. Thankfully, having seen the film three times already, I had a pretty good idea what was going on.

Next up was the pretty-good "The Greatest Game Ever Played", or as it will be known to my dad, "The Greatest Movie Ever"...the simple reason? It's about golf, it loves golf and it respects the sport that oh so many people despise with a passion. While I found much of the opening material involving the adults involved with golf to be very tedious, it does pick up towards the end with a nice performance by Shia LeBoeuf as our everyday underdog and a climax that may be predictable, but I still really enjoyed it overall.

And finally I saw a 10:30pm show of "Lord of War" at the nearby art cinema Fifth Avenue rather than catch a midnight show down at the Paramount (I have been up since 7am!). Glad I did since the film was a powerful social commentary on weapons and violence seen through the eyes of a pretty bad guy, played wonderfully by Nicolas Cage and written/directed beautifully by Andrew Niccol (the opening shot where we follow a bullet as it is made right to its final delivery is unforgettable). I watched half of the film with either my jaw dropped or with a complete surprised laughter, which is very rare for me these days.

And here I am back at the hotel. Still no wireless net access, although two public networks have come through to my room, but with only one bar out of four. Nada on either my email or the web browser. Crap!! Finding out today that there was absolutely no way to wire in net access was off putting, so I guess my original plan of writing here and then transferring my data when I go WIFI at an internet bar or coffee shop (note to self, get a list of these places!) will have to do. Come to think of it, I will probably get more work done this way since the internet is such a friggin' distraction! :)


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

2005 VIFF "Wish List"

The following is a list of every film I wish to see during the festival. Crazy:


Alternative Anime Strikes Back

Arvo Pärt: 24 Preludes for a Fugue

Ballets Russes

Blood Rain

Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger revival print)

The Bridesmaid

The Cabin Movie


Cache (Michael Haneke)

Changing Times

China Blue

Citizen Dog

Crash Test Dummies

C.R.A.Z.Y. (Quebec)

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Digital Shorts by Three Filmmakers 2005 (Dragons and Tigers)

Dreaming of Space


The Dying Gaul

L’Enfant (Dardenne Brothers)




First Love

Forty Shades of Blue

The French Guy

Go For Zucker!

The Gronholm Method

Heading South

Heart, Beating in the Dark (1982 original)

Heart, Beating in the Dark (2005 Gala)

Hell (Danis Tanovic)

The Hours Go By


The Intruder (Clare Denis)

Keane (Lodge Kerrigan)

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (Shane Black)

The Last Mitterrand (Robert Guediguian)

Lie With Me

Life With My Father

Linda Linda Linda

Live and Become

Look Both Ways

Low Profile


Manderlay (Lars Von Trier)

Mutual Appreciation

My Dad is 100 Years Old (Guy Maddin short) with Rome, Open City (Rosselini)

North Country (Niki Caro)

One Day in Europe

One Night

Paradise Now

A Particular Silence

The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes

Police Beat

The Porcelain Doll

Princess Raccoon (Suzuki)

Roma (Adoflo Aristarain)

Shanghai Dreams


A Simple Curve (Aubrey Nealon)


The Squid & The Whale

Stolen Childhood

Stolen Life

Takeshis (Kitano)

Tale of Cinema

These Girls

3 Needles (Thom Fitzgerald)

The Thing About My Folks

This Charming Girl

This Divided State

Three Dollars

Three Times (Hsien)

U-Carmen In Ekhayelitsha (Gala)

The Volatile Woman

War Hospital

Water (Deepa Mehta)

The White Diamond

Why We Fight

Wrong Side Up


Sunday, September 11, 2005

Arcade Fire Update!


After looking like it may not happen at all due to venue issues, a Vancouver show has been officially announced.

Friday October 7th
PNE ForumVancouver, BC
The Arcade Firew/ Wolf Parade & Bell Orchestre
Doors: 7pm
$31.50+ s/c
Tickets onsale Friday September 16th @ 10am on and at Zulu Records.


Well this is some damn good news; The Arcade Fire has finally booked a show! Some of us were thinking that the small, intimate Commodore would be in favor for the gang, as well as the enormous T-Bird stadium at UBC, but the PNE Forum sounds dandy to me.


Friday, September 09, 2005

Festival Madness

As if it is not known already, Canada is in its Festival Month. With the Toronto International Film Festival currently underway (my best wishes to fellow HBS staffers Scott Weinberg and Erik Childress who are out there covering) as well as Montreal World Film Festival just wrapping up, Vancouver is the one that gets the last hurrah in terms of festivalgoing.

With all of the films currently announced (see below postings), VIFF once again has knocked things out of the park with such an eclectic mixture of films from all over the world. There is so much to choose from, and over the next week I will be planning my day-by-day schedule to get the most out of the 15 days of the festival (not including those fun press screenings that certainly aid in getting more films seen during those 15 days).

Also wonderful this year is the birthing of the Vancouver International Film Centre, which will hold a series of special events (also see below) as well as host many screenings. While the first round of press screenings are being held at the Cinematheque, we may see the film centre open to press screenings towards the beginning of the festival (methinks they are still putting finishing touches on the screening room).

For ticket-buyers, the added option of the [b]Granville [/b] as a ticket kiosk is certainly handy for those who spend their entire days at the 7-screener and need a quick ticket fix. The Pacific Centre Kiosk will also remain open.

Also bear in mind for single-ticket sales...they have jumped 50 cents in price this year, possibly to help with costs for the film centre. Pass prices have remained the same.

Coming soon will be my "Wish List" posting for all of the films I want to see at the festival. And here's hoping that I can keep you as up to date as possible from the world of the festival, on here as well as my official coverage on


VIFF Slate of Films Announced

Sorry for the lateness of the posting since I just purchased a laptop and have been getting it setup over the last few days. Here are the main press releases from the press confrence on Wednesday:

24th Annual VIFF Announces Full Line-Up of Films and Events

Vancouver, BC (September 7, 2005) - The 24rd Vancouver International Film Festival announced today that it will show 329 films, including 230 feature and mid-length films, at more than 500 screenings. The slate includes 8 World Premieres, 22 International Premieres, 38 North American Premieres, 59 Canadian Premieres and 10 English-Canadian Premieres. The Festival will open on September 29 with a Gala screening of Deepa Mehta's WATER, will screen Mark Dornford-May's U-CARMEN IN EKHAYELITSHA as an Anniversary Gala on October 8 and will close on October 14 with Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's L'ENFANT. All Galas will be presented at the VISA Screening Room @ The Vogue.


The Festival announced all three gala screenings for this year, as well as its line-up of Special Presentations, which features some of the years most honoured and anticipated films.
The Opening Gala, WATER (Canada), is the haunting, long-awaited final instalment of Deepa Mehta's "elements" trilogy, and it is a feast for the eyes and the ears. In colonial India, eight-year-old Chuyia is sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Her feisty presence affects the other residents, especially a young widow, who falls for a Gandhian idealist.
The Festival's Anniversary Gala, U-CARMEN IN EKHAYELITSHA (South Africa) was the Golden Bear winner for Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival, Mark Dornford-May's feature debut is a highly accomplished and original take on Bizet's Carmen. It creates a synthesis of grand opera and traditional South African song and dance to tell the tragic story of a very sassy femme fatale in the township of Khayelitsha.
This year's Cannes Palme d'Or winner, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne's gripping and concise L'ENFANT (Belgium) will close the Festival. Ill-equipped to handle his new paternal responsibility, 20-year-old thief Bruno undertakes an horrific act, which itself begets other drastic, life-changing crises.


From the mind of Danish bad boy Lars von Trier comes two of the year's most radical and controversial films. The second in his USA Trilogy, MANDERLAY (Denmark/Sweden/U.K./France) picks up where Dogville left off, as Grace (now played by Bryce Dallas Howard) arrives at a Southern plantation where, more than 70 years after abolition, slavery is still in effect. A love story about a boy and his gun, Thomas Vinterberg's DEAR WENDY (US/Denmark), written by von Trier, stars Jamie Bell as the leader of the "Dandies," a pacifist gang of weapons lovers. Again filming in France, Austrian provocateur Michael Haneke turns to the thriller genre to critique First World complacency. In the tense CACHÉ (Austria/France), winner of Best Director prize at Cannes, Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil star as a bourgeois couple who start receiving ominous videotapes on their doorstep, including tapes of themselves. Inspired by one of the first sexual harassment class-action suits in US history, and from Niki Caro, the director of Whale Rider, NORTH COUNTRY (US) casts Charlize Theron in the role of Lori Jenson, the woman who fought back after enduring abuse at the hands of her co-workers.

These films join the previously announced FATELESS (Hungary), Lajos Koltai's tremendous Holocaust drama. All Special Presentations will screen at the Visa Screening Room @ the Vogue.

As a special section of this year's VIFF signalling the future direction for the Vancity Theatre in the Vancouver International Film Centre, the VIFF presents an eclectic mix of films, special guests, presentations and events meant to show the wide variety of programming that will be presented when the Vancity Theatre starts full-time screenings in early 2006.
We are excited to welcome Isabella Rossellini to the Vancity Theatre and the VIFF to present MY DAD IS 100 YEARS OLD. Directed by Guy Maddin from a script by Rossellini, the short film is a highly subjective and quirky tribute to her father Roberto Rossellini, in anticipation of the 100 th anniversary of his birth in 2006. The short will be followed by a rare screening of Roberto Rossellini's neorealist classic, ROME, OPEN CITY, a film that still thrums with energy and immediacy, despite its having been released 60 years ago

Dragons & Tigers juror David Bordwell, one of the US's most distinguished film academics, will be presenting an illustrated lecture at the Vancity theatre on the afternoon of October 3 titled "The Modern Miracle You See without Glasses! The Aesthetics of CinemaScope." It will be followed by a screening of Otto Preminger's CinemaScope classic BONJOUR TRISTESSE, presented in a restored print courtesy of Sony Pictures. (Along with Rossellini, next year will be the 100th anniversary of Preminger's birth.)

To bridge the gap between the film, fine arts and music worlds, we are presenting a special pre-festival event, AN EVENING WITH RODNEY GRAHAM. Graham and his band will be performing live at the Vancity Theatre on September 24th, kicking off the Festival early with a selection of songs from his recent albums, accompanied by specially prepared visuals, in anticipation of a European concert tour.

Also fine-arts related, the Vancouver International Film Centre will be the site of a rare video installation by one of America's most respected experimental filmmakers, James Benning. Screening at the Vancity Theatre during the Festival will be Benning's most recent films, TEN SKIES and 13 LAKES, both masterpieces of radical beauty that also make strong political statements about the place and future of nature in the current American landscape.
Keeping with the subject of nature, at the Vancity Theatre special attention will be given to programming films with environmental relevance. The year's best film on the subject is Roberta Grossman's HOMELAND: FOUR PORTRAITS OF NATIVE ACTION. As seen through the eyes of several activists, Grossman's film exposes some of the most appalling environmental and human rights abuses in the US perpetrated against Aboriginal people. An angry and important film that deserves to be seen, it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

In anticipation of a forthcoming tribute to the works of one of Argentina's most popular directors for Vancouver audiences, Adolfo Aristarain (Common Ground, VIFF audience award winner A Place in the World), we are showing his new and most accomplished work to date. In ROMA, Aristarain turns a compassionate eye towards his own spiritual and political education. Finally, we will open the Vancity Theatre with a special screening of Claire Denis' extraordinary THE INTRUDER, which boldly dissolves the border between narrative film and dream life.


Our largest single section-and one often overlooked in the torrent of documentaries, Asian films, and Canadian films-is Cinema of Our Time, which again presents award-winning films and audience favourites from around the world. In addition to the films already announced in press releases on American independent cinema and Eastern European film, the Festival today announced the complete Cinema of Our Time series.

Highlights from other festivals include Radu Mihaileanu's LIVE AND BECOME (Israel/France), the winner of an audience award in Berlin that tells the story of Shlomo, a nine-year-old Ethiopian boy sent to Israel. Neither a Jew nor an orphan, Shlomo is forced to adopt an entirely new identity in order to escape starvation and gain a new life. The timely and shocking story of the last few days in the life of two suicide bombers from Nablus, PARADISE NOW (Palestine/Netherlands/Germany/France) won Hany Abu-Assad the Best Director award at Berlin. (Abu-Assad will be in attendance at the Festival.) Winner of the Grand Prize at this year's Moscow festival, Alexey Uchitel's (Russia) DREAMING OF SPACE is set in 1957 after the Russians launched the first space satellite and a new spirit of hope arose. It finds likable cook Konyok longing for the love of Lara and the friendship of enigmatic former political prisoner Gherman.

Included in the many films selected from Cannes are a number of North American Premieres: João Pedro Rodrigues will be at the Festival to present ODETE (Portugal), an elaborate, strangely moving gender-bending melodrama of "vertigo pop"; ONE NIGHT (Iran), the first film from Iranian actress Niki Karimi, tells the story of a young woman's fearless journey through one long night on Teheran's mean streets, hitchhiking rides with male strangers who each seem to possess their own grave secret; DARK HORSE (Denmark/Iceland), the latest slacker comedy from Dagur Kari (director of Noi Albinoi ), follows the exploits of a graffiti artist who has withdrawn from all social conventions, his rotund buddy Grandpa, who works in a sleep clinic while training to be a soccer referee and the bewitching bakery girl they both crave. Christoph Hochausler's LOW PROFILE (Germany) examines the fate of Armin, a bored German teen living in the soul-killing suburbs, who starts writing letters to the police claiming responsibility for crimes committed in his neighbourhood.

The VIFF is also pleased to present the World Premiere of the latest work from The Amber Collective from the U.K. SHOOTING MAGPIES blurs fiction and documentary in this powerful story about a young mother trying to get her husband off heroin and a single father whose relationship with his son is threatened by events in East Durham, a poor post-industrial community. Also from the U.K., and very topical, is Kenny Gleanaan's YASMIN, a film about a young Muslim woman, poised precariously between the modern culture of contemporary Britain and the traditions of her faith, whose life is changed after 9/11. One of the most popular Australian films in recent memory, Sarah Watt's mix of tender live action and abrupt animation, LOOK BOTH WAYS, takes place over a scorchingly hot weekend, as photographer Nick gets an alarming medical diagnosis, and runs into Meryl, who is dealing with her own personal crises. Also mixing live action and idiosyncratic animation in its own inimitable way comes the latest from the U.K.'s Quay Brothers, THE PIANO TUNER OF EARTHQUAKES, a morbid tale of dead opera singers, mad scientists, dust, decay, dolls and other typical Quay obsessions.
Some films screening in Cinema of Our Time that will also be presented by their filmmakers include the North American Premiere of Ali Mossaffa's PORTRAIT OF A LADY FAR AWAY (Iran), wherein a random phone call from a woman planning to kill herself sends a lonely architect on a journey of self-discovery. Shonali Bose's AMU (India) sees a 21-year-old second generation Indian-American woman struggle for acceptance in both countries, while discovering a long-buried family secret revolving around the riots following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's 1984 assassination. Star Peter Franzén will be on hand to present the latest work from VIFF favourite Markku Pölönen, DOG NAIL CLIPPER (Finland), a lyrical rumination on the resilience of the human spirit starring Franzén as an idealist wounded in the head during WWII who refuses to give up on life and his fellow humans. In his impressively crafted and moving first feature NEWS FROM AFAR (Mexico), a Canadian Premiere, Ricardo Benet tells the story of a young man who sets off from a small village in the Mexican highlands to journey to Mexico City in the hopes of saving his mother and father from marginalization and poverty.


With the help of the French Consulate General, we are again pleased to present a Spotlight on new films from France, encompassing a wide selection of films from well-known auteurs and up-and-coming debut filmmakers. In THE LAST MITTERAND, Marseilles leftie laureate Robert Guédiguian helms a shrewd and sensitive look at the last days of former French President François Mitterrand (a marvellous Michel Bouquet). Returning to Northern Africa, this time with two superstars in tow, André Téchiné spins an absorbing, fluid, and moody ode to adulthood, anxiety and obsession in CHANGING TIMES, which stars Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. In THE BRIDESMAID, French master Claude Chabrol adapts English mystery writer Ruth Rendell's novel about a young femme fatale who demands the ultimate proof of love. Laurent Cantet's HEADING SOUTH, a France-Canada co-production, stars Charlotte Rampling as a sex tourist in 1980s Haiti. Three women, one extremely young, if louche, man, and a little political murder only add to the intrigue in this twisted tale of sex and power. WILD SIDE is an elliptical, soulful, at times startlingly beautiful ménage à trois drama from VIFF favourite Sebastien Lifshitz.

Danis Tanovic, the director of No Man's Land , returns for his sophomore film with HELL, a gripping story chronicling the lives of three sisters, bound forever by an act of violence witnessed in their childhood. Starring Emmanuelle Béart, the film was written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, who developed this film as part of a trilogy with the late Krzysztof Kieslowski. An impressively original, dislocating and gripping film about the boundary between "normality" and insanity, Pascale Breton's ILLUMINATION focuses on Ildutt, a fisherman recovering from a mental breakdown who develops a passion for his grandmother's nurse. The title of Karin Albou's debut LITTLE JERUSALEM refers to a suburb of Paris, but it could also refer to the sense of conflict experienced by Laura and her sister Mathilde, both of whom are dealing with the demands of tradition and the disruptive power of passion. César award-winner for Best First Film and Best Actress, Gilles Porte and Yolande Moreau's WHEN THE TIDE COMES IN is an evocative tale about Irène, an actress who makes her living performing a one-woman Commedia dell'Arte-inspired show about sex and crime.


A highlight of this year's Nonfiction Features series is a five-film subsection devoted to the popular sounds coming from Brazil. The series kicks off with the North American premiere of Georges Gachot's MARIA BETHÂNIA, MUSIC IS PERFUME. Truly a legend, Maria Bethâia is a musical treasure whose soulful renditions of folk songs and ballads have inspired generations of fans and fellow musicians the world over. Now living part-time in Brazil, Finland's Mika Kaurismäki has made his second soul-stirring documentary on Brazilian music. BRASILEIRINHO focuses on choro , Brazil's original traditional music that pre-dates samba and bossa nova. EVERYTHING BLUE: THE COLOR OF MUSIC is a sweeping exploration of Brazilian music from director Jesse Acevedo that uncovers the long history of struggle, sorrow and political dissent that underlies the soul of Brazilian samba. Fernando Trueba's rousing documentary THE MIRACLE OF CANDEAL is a colourful, good-humoured trip filled with foot-stomping rhythm and astonishing people, filmed in the Brazilian favela of Candeal, where the young residents gave up their guns for musical instruments. Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary's FAVELA RISING tells the story of a remarkable man who emerged from Rio's most violent favela and set off the nonviolent movement of Afro-Brazilian music and culture in the form of the music group known as AfroReggae.


For the 14th year, the National Film Board of Canada will present an award for Best Documentary feature. The nonfiction jury will be comprised of: Kris Anderson, director of DOXA; Matt Henderson, head of production and sales for Seventh Art Releasing; and Josh Siegel, a film and media curator at The Museum of Modern Art.
Canadian Filmmakers are Set to Make a Strong Statement at this Year's VIFF

Canadian Filmmakers are Set to Make a Strong Statement at this Year's VIFF
Vancouver, BC (September 7, 2005) - The Vancouver International Film Festival is pleased to announce the 2005 Canadian Images line-up. Out of more than 700 submissions to the Canadian Images program, 99 films were selected to screen at the festival. Composed of 28 feature-length, eight mid-length, and 60 shorts, the Canadian Images series includes four world premieres.

Local favourite Aubrey Nealon's feature debut A SIMPLE CURVE will kick off the Canadian Images series, VIFF programmer Diane Burgess announced today. " In a year marked by an impressive range of strong Western Canadian features, Nealon's warm and witty debut A SIMPLE CURVE stands out as a well-crafted and fully realized gem."
It tells the story of a young man raised in British Columbia's majestic Slocan Valley by hippie draft-dodger parents. Drawing on his own experiences, Nealon effectively captures the blurring of traditional parent-child relationships that can occur when everyone lives as equals.


Writer-director Thom Fitzgerald's latest feature 3 NEEDLES offers a visually stunning and emotionally powerful look at the global reach of the AIDS pandemic. Starring Olympia Dukakis, Lucy Liu, Chloë Sevigny, Stockard Channing and Sandra Oh, the film interweaves three divergent stories of women thrust into crisis across three continents.

Genie, Gemini and Emmy Award-winner Sturla Gunnarsson's latest film is the much anticipated BEOWULF AND GRENDEL. Loosely adapted from the seminal Anglo-Saxon epic poem about a world of warriors, witches, sea hags and trolls, the film finds its relevance for our own century. Co-starring Sarah Polley and Gerard Butler, Gunnarrsson's adaptation turns this epic poem into a stylish action adventure film.

Also in the special presentation category is this summer's Quebec box-office hit C.R.A.Z.Y. , by Jean-Marc Vallée. The film focuses on a family of five sons over two decades, and in particular the second-youngest, who is forced to face up to his homosexuality and test his father's ability to love.


The Canadian Images program offers a strong selection of nonfiction films dealing with issues as varied as terrorism, war, nationalism, gender and community. In SOUVENIR OF CANADA, award-winning filmmaker Robin Neinstein takes us on an entertaining romp through late 20th-century Canadiana guided by writer Douglas Coupland and inspired by both Coupland's recent best-seller and the installation project Canada House. WAR HOSPITAL, David Christensen and Damien Lewis' latest doc chronicles life, birth and death at the world's largest field hospital in northern Kenya. Luc Coté's timely and thought-provoking CRASH LANDING compiles testimony of Canadian veterans who returned home suffering from a range of physical and psychological ailments, while THE LYNCHING OF LOUIE SAM chronicles a significant moment in the shared history of the lower Fraser River area.

Musical docs include the world premiere of FIVE DAYS IN SEPTEMBER, an intimate look at the inner workings of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as it launches a new season with charismatic maestro Peter Oundjiian. Director Barbara Willis Sweete captures soloists Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming, Emanuel Ax, and the lively backstage lives of the orchestra's musicians and administrators. METAL: A HEADBANGERS JOURNEY is a rockfest that is part anthropological study and part personal quest; this film is proof that heavy metal is more than mere spectacle to the millions of dedicated headbangers who've been raging along with it for years
Other documentary highlights include: LIFELIKE, an introduction to the sometimes wacky world of taxidermy, which screens with A PERFECT FAKE, about the culture of love/sex dolls in Japan; ICE BREAKER, a powerful portrait of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship that patrols Iceberg Alley; THEIR BROTHERS' KEEPERS-ORPHANED BY AIDS, about two families in Zambia headed by children; and AT MY MOTHER'S BREAST, an intimate exploration of the multi-generational reach of breast cancer, which plays with the personal and provocative SHE'S ONLY SIX.


THE HAMSTER CAGE - Larry Kent returns with this darkly satiric take on family secrets. Lucy and Paul return to their childhood home to help celebrate their father's Nobel Prize win. When their Uncle Stanley arrives with some rather inappropriate gifts, his efforts reveal explosive repressed memories, incest and bloody disaster.

LIE WITH ME -The director of Rude (VIFF 95) and Love Come Down (VIFF 00), Clement Virgo returns with a film completely concerned with sex that has been adapted from his partner Tamara Faith Berger's controversial erotic novella about a young woman's quest for sex as love.

KARDIA (World Premiere) - Su Rynard's mesmerizing debut feature weaves fable, fiction, science and metaphor to explore the landscape of love, loss and the human heart.

LUCID - Director Sean Garrity's second feature is a tightly wound thriller about an insomniac who is treating a group of psychiatric patients, all suffering from extreme symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Jonas Chernick co-stars with Callum Keith Rennie, Michelle Nolden and Lindy Booth.

WHOLE NEW THING - Amnon Buchbinder's funny and poignant coming-of-age story stars co-writer Daniel MacIvor as a gay English teacher who finds himself the object of affection for a precocious 13-year-old who, while secure in his sexuality, fails to grasp he is not yet an adult.
Quebec's film industry continues to flourish, as this year's selection demonstrates with impressive breadth. Features include: Louise Archambault's visually inventive FAMILIA; the award-winning tragicomedy LIFE WITH MY FATHER; the heartwarming comedy about fatherhood HORLOGE BIOLOGIQUE; the poignant and haunting award-winner LA NEUVAINE and C.R.A.Z.Y., a VIFF Special Presentation, this summer's Quebec box-office hit that has made over $4.4 million at the box office.

Local film include Julia Kwan's delightful first feature EVE & THE FIRE HORSE, Ann Marie Fleming's absurdist comedy of errors THE FRENCH GUY, and David Tamagi's beguiling and exotic PAPER MOON AFFAIR. Dylan Akio Smith follows up his acclaimed short Man Feel Pain (VIFF 04) with his dark comedy THE CABIN MOVIE followed by Scott Weber's visually stunning thriller DESOLATION SOUND. The Festival is also proud to announce that Kim Collier's THE SCORE, adapted from the Jessie Award-winning Electric Company Theatre production, will have its world premiere at the VIFF. The Canadian Images shorts packages this year have strong local connections featuring films made by students from UBC, SFU, VFS and Emily Carr. Covering topics such as social conformity, small catalysts and the perils of familial bonds, they all explore how we relate to our place in the world.
$17,000 in prizes for Western Canadian filmmakers
For the fourth year, Citytv is generously sponsoring an award for Western Canadian filmmakers. The $12,000 Citytv Western Canada Feature Film Award for 2005 will be presented to the director of the Best Feature Film from Western Canada. Burgess also announced the new $5,000 Bravo!FACT Award, which will be presented to the Best Young Western Canadian Director of a Short Film.

Western Canadian Films in Competition:

The Cabin Movie (Dylan Akio Smith)
Desolation Sound (Scott Weber)
Eve & the Fire Horse (Julia Kwan)
The French Guy (Ann Marie Fleming)
The Hamster Cage (Larry Kent)
Lucid (Sean Garrity)
Paper Moon Affair (David Tamagi)
The Score (Kim Collier)
A Simple Curve (Aubrey Nealon)
Alice & Bastard (Ana Valine)
Apartment (Min Jeong Kim)
At the Quinte Hotel (Bruce Alcock)
Because You Demanded It! (Sarah Crauder)
Break a Leg, Rosie (Tara Hungerford)
Death of Theodore Graham (Erik Hecht)
Doll-Like (Alexis Baran)
Esc (Justin Henton)
Fishbowl (Eric Johnson)
Hiro (Matthew Swanson)
On a Sunday (Bevan Klassen)
Patterns (Jamie Travis)

Canadian Images Jury

The jury for the Citytv and Bravo!FACT Awards is comprised of: Liam Lacey (journalist, The Globe and Mail ), Nathaniel Geary (director, On the Corner ) and Timothy Taylor (author, Stanley Park).