Canadian picks at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival

A scene from the BC-shot Suck It Up.

While the Toronto International Film Festival premieres many of the high-profile, Oscar-baiting Hollywood releases, the Vancouver International Film Festival has carved a niche for itself by emphasizing Canadian and foreign releases. This year’s Canadian slate includes feature films and documentaries in the True North program as well as films by emerging filmmakers in the Future//Present series. Here’s a look at a few of the more notable Canadian releases screening at the fest, which runs Sept. 28-Oct 13 at various theatres in town.

Meditation Park—Vancouver director Mina Shum (Double Happiness) returns to her favourite theme—immigrant experience in Canada—in this, her fourth feature. In it, Maria (Cheng Pei Pei) has been a dutiful housewife to her workaholic husband (Tzi Ma). But when she learns he’s having an affair, everything changes. She’s aided and abetted by her daughter (returning Shum favourite Sandra Oh). Vancouver, especially Chinatown, also plays a part. Meditation Park is the fest’s Opening Night Gala Film.

A scene from Mina Shum’s Meditation Park.

Suck It Up—”A buddy-comedy wrapped in a British Columbia road trip, Suck It Up figures out how to find the humor in emotionally distressing situations that might elude any less determined characters than the film’s two protagonists. Gently amusing while avoiding needless sentimentality, Jordan Canning’s deft feature could find a limited following on the art house circuit or any number of streaming services.”—The Hollywood Reporter. It’s the second feature from Canning, following 2014’s We Were Wolves.

You’re Soaking in It—Scott Harper documents the shift in advertising from creative leaps and psychological profiling to precise, targeted surveillance rooted in complicated algorithms. The filmmaker interviews movers and shakers in the industry, including the guy who invented the pop-up add. He’s very sorry, apparently.

Still Night, Still Light—Sophie Goyette’s drama moves between three characters and three locations. Eliane, haunted by the death of her parents, leaves her Montreal home to teach piano in Mexico City. Her student’s father Romes is coping with midlife disappointment. Lastly, Pablo’s father harbours memories of a lost love. “Framed by Léna Mill-Reuillard’s gauzy and wistful cinematography, Goyette’s storytelling craft and ingenuity transcends generations, cultures and language, resulting in a debut that is nothing less than a complete and singular vision from a rising talent.”—Screen Anarchy

Still Night, Still Light.

Shut Up and Say Something—Melanie Woods’ documentary looks at Vancouver-based spoken word artist Shane Koyczan. The film screens at the BC Spotlight Awards Gala on Saturday, Oct. 7.

The Green Fog– A San Francisco Fantasia—Winnipeg-based filmmaker Guy Maddin, in collaboration with brothers Evan and Galen Johnson, pays homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo in this collage-based film. Drawing on images from classics, ’50s noir, documentary and experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV to create a “parallel-universe version” (Maddin’s words) of the Hitchcock classic. The Green Fog is a special VIFF LIVE presentation at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts on Sunday, Oct. 10, where it will be screened along with a live performance of the soundtrack by Kronos Quartet.

A still from The Green Fog, Guy Maddin’s tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

For more info on the 2017 Vancouver International Film Festival, visit viff.org.

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