Top Canadian Films at the 2013 Vancouver International Film Festival

Oil Sands Karaoke Photo credit: VIFF

Oil Sands Karaoke Photo credit: VIFF

The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) kicks off this Thursday, September 26 and runs until October 11. Besides attracting top directors from all over the globe, VIFF always includes a cool cadre of Canadian-made films.

The Canadian Images series showcases the best of Canadian feature-length and short films. This year, 75 films were selected out of approximately 600 submissions.

On Sunday, Inside Vancouver blogger Remy Scalza shared some of his festival choices with you, now it’s my turn. Below you’ll find some of my Canadian film picks. From two hapless Quebecois cycling fundraisers to west coast salmon warriors, there’s a range of must-see Canadian cinema during this year’s Canadian Images.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls – Compared by critics to a Tom Waits song or Cormac McCarthy novel, Jeff Barnaby’s gritty debut chronicles the missteps of the local drug-trade as lived by Red Crow reserve’s own weed princess Aila played by Kawennahere Devery Jacobs. As Aila communes with the spirits, she plots against a bad-guy bureaucrat Popper (Mark Antony Krupa). In order to exact her scheme, Aila must conquer childhood nightmares and enter the derelict residential school in order to foil Popper. See: showtimes, trailer.

Follow the Fox (Suivre la Piste du Renard) – Two well-meaning Qubeckers attempt to follow in the footsteps of Canadian legend Terry Fox en bicyclette, sans mains. As they pedal to Thunder Bay from Sept-Iles without touching or using their handlebars, their quest begins to unravel as a result of poor organization skills. See: showtimes.

Oil Sands Karaoke – It’s a debate between the hard hats and the hippies: is Fort MacMurray a Canadian environmental pariah or the country’s economic power house? Director Charles Wilkinson found the space where people could speak, and sing freely, about what it’s really like to work in the ubiquitous tar sands: the local karaoke bar. Set in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Oil Sands Karaoke is a documentary that follows Brad, Chad, Jason, Dan and Iceis as they compete for karaoke stardom at the boomtown karaoke pub, Bailey’s. Quirky and honest, Oil Sands Karaoke helps us appreciate the folks who bust their butts by day and belt out classics by night in a dark, little Alberta watering hole that happens to be in one of Canada’s most controversial towns. See: showtimes, trailer.

When I Walk – When film maker Jason DaSilva was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006, he decided to turn his camera inwards to chronicle the struggles he faced as he learned to deal with the disease. Through his talented camera work and magnetic personality, DaSilva shows us not only his struggles with the disease, but also its influence on his creative process and relationships. Da Silva creates a poignant and tissue-mandatory look at what it’s like to be a young, vibrant soul living with MS. When I walk was part of the 2013 Sundance Official Selection and awarded Hot Docs 2013 Best Canadian Feature. See: showtimes, trailer.

Salmon Confidential Photo Credit: VIFF

Salmon Confidential Photo Credit: VIFF

Salmon Confidential – Salmon are the backbone of British Columbia’s history and for many communities, their future. Anyone who has spent any time on B.C.’s coast is probably aware of the ‘farmed vs. wild salmon’ debate and the resulting scientific sparring that has taken place as people like Dr. Alexandra Morton investigate why our salmon stocks are dwindling at alarming rates. A part of the #mustseeBC series, west coast documentary film-maker Twyla Roscovich follows the debate surrounding the health of B.C. salmon and the different theories behind the declining health of this monumental species. See: showtimes, trailer.

If you want to be part of people-powered film awards, you can! Don’t forget to vote for the Most Popular Canadian Film Award and the prestigious Rogers People’s Choice Award after your Canadian film experiences.

What are your Canadian Images must-see films this year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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