The festival opens September 28, here’s what we’re eager to see
This year, much of the star power that often gives life to the movie festival circuit in places like Toronto and Telluride has fizzled out, thanks to the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strikes currently taking place.
That’s not necessarily a factor for the Vancouver International Film Festival, which often lacked the names and pull of its cousin to the east. Of course, TIFF, which is currently in session, is premiering a ton of buzzy movies before VIFF gets a crack at them. But that’s okay, there’s plenty here for Vancouverites to take in, including exciting local efforts and bigger Hollywood pictures. Here are 10 movies we’ll be lining up for from September 28 to October 8.
Director: Jamila Pomeroy
The documentary depicts the history of Vancouver’s Hogan’s Alley, the formerly Black neighbourhood which was destroyed by the construction of the Georgia viaduct in the ‘70s. But the legacy hasn’t been forgotten—now-closed Black-owned businesses in Hogan’s Alley like Vie’s Chicken and Steakhouse have inspired a new generation of Black business owners in the neighbourhood. This is Pomeroy’s first feature-length film.
I Used to Be Funny
Director: Ally Pankiw
Starring: Rachel Sennot, Olga Petsa
Rachel Sennot’s breakout has already happened. The star of films like Shiva Baby and Bodies Bodies Bodies is gaining international acclaim with the recent release of Bottoms, which she also co-wrote.
Ally Pankiw’s breakout, however, appears to be imminent. The Canadian writer/director has helmed episodes of television series like The Great and Shrill. Her first feature, I Used to Be Funny, pulls off the extremely rare feat of getting an American actor to play a Canadian, as Sennot plays Sam, a Toronto comic suffering from PTSD.
Anatomy of a Fall
Director: Justine Triet
Starring: Sandra Hüller, Swann Arlaud
France’s Justine Triet became only the third woman to win Cannes’ Palme d’Or with this psychological mystery. It hinges on a simple plot: Samuel is found dead outside his alpine cabin. It’s clear he plunged from the attic window. But did he jump, or was he pushed? It’s the second big film on this year’s festival circuit starring Hüller (Toni Erdmann).
The Zone of Interest
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Starring: Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller
Speaking of which, Hüller seems like a lock for an Oscar nomination for this Holocaust drama about a family who live a stone’s throw from the patriarch’s place of work, which just happens to be Auschwitz. Zone is Glazer’s fourth film in 23 years, and all (Under the Skin, Birth, Sexy Beast) have been genre-pushing works of art.
Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person
Director: Ariane Louis-Seize
Starring: Sara Montpetit, Félix-Antoine Bénard
If you liked What We Do in the Shadows (the movie or the show), then you’ll probably feel drawn to HVSCSP (I’m not typing that out again). From Quebec writer-director Louis Seize comes the tale of Sasha, the world’s most compassionate young vampire. While her family is at odds with her reluctance to embrace traditional vampire practices, Sasha refuses to murder humans. So when she meets a young man ready to give up on life, it seems like the perfect match. Expect some biting comedy (sorry not sorry).
I’m Just Here for the Riot
Directors: Kathleen S. Jayme and Asia Youngman
Vancouverite and two-time VIFF Audience Award winner Jayme (Finding Big Country, The Grizzlie Truth) is back with another documentary that is once again bound to swallow local sports fans in regret. As the title implies, Jayme and co-director Youngman take on the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver. The two piece together the events of the night with help from interviewees like former Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo.
The Royal Hotel
Director: Kitty Green
Starring: Jessica Henwick, Julia Garner, Hugo Weaving
The second collaboration between Green and Garner after 2019’s riveting The Assistant keeps the stakes high. Garner and Henwick play a pair of American tourists in Australia who run out of money and take jobs at an isolated Outback bar.
Director: Sherren Lee
Starring: Andrea Bang, Robbie Amell
Adapted from Kate Marchant’s book of the same name, Float is the story of a young city woman who finds herself in a small surf town (Holden, Florida in the book, Tofino in the movie) where she falls for a local. Burnaby’s Bang and Toronto’s Amell play the surf-crossed lovers.
Mareya Shot, Keetah Goal: Make the Shot
Directors: Baljit Sangra, Nilesh Patel
Vancouver filmmakers Sangra and Patel follow four junior hockey players of South Asian descent throughout the 2021-2022 season as they strive to be drafted into the NHL. Among the four is Surrey’s Arshdeep Bains, who turns a stellar WHL career into a contract with the Vancouver Canucks.
Director: Tran Anh Hùng
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Magimel
VIFF’s closing feature won Best Director honours for Hùng at Cannes. Magimel and Binoche play a pair of chefs that are partners in work but not in life… yet. The film has earned rave reviews as a foodie’s wet dream à la Babette’s Feast and Chocolat.