6 Movies to See at the Vancouver International Film Festival

Today marks the first day of the 2014 Vancouver International Film Festival. The festival boasts over 355 films from o65 countries across the globe. Seeing as the festival schedule packs almost a year’s worth of movies into a two week time-period, we’ve listed six movies (and their reviews) to help you decide which movies you’d like to attend this year. You can also visit the VIFF website and browse all movies based on their genres.

Scene from “Violent” – Photo Credit: www.viff.org


Clownwise (Czech Republic/Finland/Luxembourg/Slovakia)

Thirty years after achieving the zenith of his career in grease paint, an acclaimed actor returns from self-imposed exile in Paris for one last show in Prague. At the beginning of their careers, Oskar, Max and Viktor had created a superstar clown trio called The Busters. Until their mysterious break up, their satirical clownery had personified little islands of freedom in the midst of a motionless swamp of resignation. Now their living situations—with fascinating women, children and homes—have diverged profoundly. The eyes of a nation upon them, they attempt to re-stage their greatest performance, stave off old rivalries and ensure that time doesn’t have the last laugh.

Times & Locations:

Oct. 1st – 6:30PM at International Village
Oct 3rd – 10:30AM at SFU
Oct 6th – 2:00PM at the RIO

Fish & Cat (Iran)

Inspired by a news item about a provincial restaurant that served human flesh, Shahram Mokri’s idiosyncratic second feature initially seems as if it might be the first Iranian slasher movie, but things are not always as they appear. Filmed in one long, bravura shot by top cinematographer Mahmoud Kalari (A Separation), Fish & Cat combines formal experimentation with a sly sense of humour and a surprising feeling for North American genre conventions.

Times and Locations:

Sep 26 – 9:00PM & Oct 7 – 8:45PM at Cinematheque
Oct 2 – 11:15AM at International Village

Living is Easy With Eyes Closed (Spain)

The title, of course, comes from the lyrics to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Likewise, this charming, nostalgic road movie is inspired by the true story of a high-school English teacher—and Fab Four devotee—who drove across Spain in 1966 to meet his idol John Lennon on the set of How I Won the War in Almeria in hopes of clarifying some lyrics he couldn’t quite understand.

Times & Locations:

Oct 1st – 1:00PM & Oct 8th – 6:00PM at Centre

Click here to read the Georgia Straight’s review of Living is Easy with Eyes Closed

New Boobs (Netherlands)

The frankness of the title reflects Sacha Polak’s uncommon candour in her reflective, unsentimental and incredibly personal documentary. While the filmmaker has known for some time that she’s inherited the rare BRCA1 cancer gene from her mother, her anxiety is mounting as she’s now 28 years old. Cancer claimed her mom at the age of 29. We watch Polak’s intimate video journals and conversations with family and friends as she considers her options.

Times & Locations

Oct 2nd – 10:00AM & Oct 6th – 2:45PM at Cinematheque
Oct 7th – 7:00PM at The Rio

Click here to read the Georgia Straight’s review of New Boobs

The Boy and the World (Brazil)

William Blake once wrote of seeing “a world in a grain of sand.” You’ll understand precisely what he meant when you watch Alê Abreu’s animated odyssey. It’s a story that moves from the microscopic to the monumental, taking us from childhood solitude to a sprawling vision of humanity. We start with a young boy standing heartbroken as a train carries his father into the distance. The boy will eventually leave home as well, moving from the country to a towering metropolis in search of his dad. In his adventures, he’ll float on clouds of cotton, ride on ships with the beaks of birds and encounter a world ruled by black-clad oppressors

Times & Locations:

Sep 25th – 1:30PM, Sep 28th – 10:30AM
Oct 2nd – 7:00PM at International Village

Violent (Canada/Norway) 

This film is the debut feature from Andrew Huculiak, drummer for the Vancouver-based band We Are the City and it was created to coincide with the release of the album of the same name. Suspense is sustained in an abstract way: musical motifs from their songs, pinpoints of light, atmospheric electro-magnetics and a repeated, wave-like mantra. The story takes us to Bergen, Norway, and the protagonist is young Dagny (the incandescent Dagny Backer Johnsen), whose reminiscences of the five people who loved her most rise to the surface at the same time as she experiences a resonant epiphany.

Times and Locations:

Sep 30th – 9:30PM
Oct 2nd – 4:00PM at The Rio
Oct 10th – 3:45PM at SFU

Please share your experiences by commenting below if you have seen any of the movies listed in this post or in this year’s festival.