Sick of Hollywood? Vancouver International Film Fest, Sept. 29-Oct. 14

Hollywood blockbusters are fun, star-filled and action-packed.  But sometimes you need something with a little more depth and a little more bite.

That’s where Vancouver’s annual film fest comes into play.  The 30th installment of the Vancouver International Film Festival kicks off this Friday, Sept. 29, and continues until Oct. 14.  More than 375 films from 75 different countries will be seen by some 150,000 film fans in five theatres during the course of the festival.

Films range from dramatic shorts from Jordan to feature-length comedies from India.  The one common denominator is that they are by and large very un-Hollywood.

Take, for example, the film that kicks off the festival this Friday at downtown’s Vogue Theatre: The Skin I Live in, from acclaimed Spanish director and provocateur Pedro Almodovar.  Starring Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon who develops a new type of synthetic skin, the movie is described as a “genre-bending, tongue-in-cheek medical melodrama/horror mashup.”  Hmm . . . definitely not your typical shoot-em-up action flick.

The festival is also an important showcase for Canadian films.  Some 80 films from Canadian directors will be shown, including the much anticipated BumRush, a crime drama that explores the criminal underbelly in Montreal and provides a Canadian take on the classic gangster film.  Another hot ticket is the romantic comedy Cloudburst, which stars Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis as one-half of a lesbian couple coming to Canada to wed after 30 years together.

The festival also has several thematic categories, including Heaven and Earth, which focuses on environmental and spiritual issues.  Among the most talked about films in this category is There Once Was an Island, about tiny Morlock Island (pop. 400) in Papua, New Guinea, which is slowly being swallowed by the rising ocean.

Festival films are screened at Empire Granville 7 Cinemas, Visa Screening Room at the Vogue Theatre, Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre, Pacific Cinémathèque and Park Theatre.  Single tickets are $12, with discounts for students and seniors.  For a complete listing of films and venues, see www.viff.org.

Anyone seen a great film at the festival?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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