Six films you need to see at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival

A scene from Gaspar Noe’s Climax.

As always, there’s a ton to see and do at the Vancouver International Film Festival. But before you get too overwhelmed, here are six films we think are worth checking out. They include the 2018 Cannes Palme d’Or winner, the latest from provocateur Gaspar Noe, and a film based on an unconventional Western novel written by Vancouver Island-born Patrick deWitt.

Non-Fiction—French director Oliver Assayas’ latest is about the publishing world and the disruption caused by the digital age. The relationship drama stars Juliette Binoche as an actress tired of her job and Guillaume Canet as a besieged book exec confronted by “the death of print.” VIFF: “Assayas’ intelligent film for thinking adults says a lot about the way we live now.”

The Sisters Brothers—The great French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, VIFF 09) turns Vancouver Island-born Patrick deWitt’s 2011 novel into a movie with Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as the eponymous brothers. The two are hired killers on the trail of a pair of gold prospectors (Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed). VIFF: “Audiard plays with genre tropes to beguiling effect: alongside the tense shootouts there is also a very funny thread of comedy (most of it coming from Phoenix’s affable yet stone-cold killer) running throughout.”

Climax—Another provocation from French director Gaspar Noé (Irreversible), this one set in 1996 and about a troupe of Parisian dancers. VIFF: “The film’s opening salvo is a masterful blending of stunning choreography, uncanny physicality and sublime cinematography that leaves you bug-eyed and gasping. And then the LSD-laced sangria kicks in, and things rapidly disintegrate into a mind-blowing amalgam of horror tropes and visually stunning set pieces as the after-party turns into Hell on Earth.”

The Favourite—Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) is back with this “blackly humorous period piece.” Set in the court of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) in 18th-century England, this movie stars both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone battling over who will become the queen’s favourite.

Shoplifters—Japanese director Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Shoplifters was a hit in Japan and won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes 2018. Shoplifetsr is described as “a bittersweet story of love and crime—tear-jerking and provocative in equal measure. When an abused child (Sasaki Miyu) is rescued by Osamu (Lily Franky), she’s glad to join his family. The Shibatas are poor, but they seem content—though they have some risky ways of getting by…”

Dogman—Director Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) returns with a look at “a sympathetic dog groomer (Marcello Fonte, Best Actor at Cannes) whose sideline as a coke dealer leads inexorably to greater criminal misdeeds—and tragedy. Tense, tough and thoroughly grounded in its seedy suburban Neapolitan locations, this is Garrone in peak form.”

For more info on these and other movies, along with showtimes etc, visit

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