Seven Must-See Movies At This Year’s Vancouver International Film Festival

by Chris Mason Stearns | Yes, it’s film fest time again, and for the next 2½ weeks hundreds of films from across the globe will screen at cinemas around Vancouver (September 24th to October 9h). Perhaps you’ve noticed the program guides cropping up all over town? If you haven’t studied the full festival listings yet, don’t worry, we’ve done your homework for you. Crib these trailers and notes on the 7 films you really don’t want to miss this year…


GREECE, 2015 | Director: RACHEL TSANGARI | Full details & Showtimes

Who is the Best in General? 6 shipmates enter into an epic struggle involving a series of absurd, escalating contests to determine just this question. Who is supreme? What will be tested? Only everything. Chevalier is a hilariously deadpan takedown of mens’ hyper-competitiveness (with a shading of post-recession Greek politics thrown in) from the director of 2010’s Attenburg.


CHINA, 2015 | Director: PEMA TSEDEN | Full details & Showtimes

North American Premiere. Tharlo follows its title character, a Tibetan shepherd, from the quiet of his marginal existence in the countryside to the disorientation and confusion of the city, where companionship and understanding are promised, yet elusive. Early reviews have praised this contemplative tale’s stunning black and white cinematography.


GERMANY, 2015 | Director: Sebastian Schipper | Full details & Showtimes

Victoria, a young Spanish girl in Germany on a work visa, spends her nights alone in Berlin’s nightclubs until she stumbles into a random encounter with a cute boy (and his dubious friends). Just as their courtship begins, the group receives a deadly ultimatum: there’s going to be a robbery, and Victoria will drive the getaway car. Shot in a single 134-minute take, Victoria has earned accolades for both its thrilling, tense plot and its technical bravura.


ETHIOPIA/FINLAND/SPAIN, 2015 | Director: MIGUEL LLANSÓ | Full details & Showtimes

A Lynchian collision of outsider wackiness and post-apocalyptic sci-fi, the Ethiopian curiosity Crumbs follows the journey of Birdy across a blasted landscape to confront a rusting alien spaceship (and perhaps his own origin). The ship has hung inert in the sky since the invasion long ago, and as it begins to wake, Birdy’s quest to discover its secrets leads him to a final confrontation with… Santa Claus?


ICELAND/DENMARK, 2015 | Director: GRÍMUR HÁKONARSON | Full details & Showtimes

A striking, austere Icelandic landscape backdrops a drama of two sheepherder brothers, Gummy and Kiddi, estranged 40 years. When a case of scrapie blights their herds, they are forced to confront each other for the first time in their adult lives, and attempt to find common cause. In other hands this material could easily turn maudlin, but trust in Scandinavian reserve to keep things frank and unaffected.


FRANCE, 2015 | Director: ARNAUD DESPLECHIN | Full details & Showtimes

Canadian Premiere. Arnold Desplechin’s film-a-clef explores scenes from the youth of Paul Dedalus — his fraught family relations, education, and first real love — through the eyes of a middle-aged Paul returning home after years away. A kaleidoscopic, deeply honest collage of the permanent marks young lovers leave, even long after parting.


ITALY/UK, 2015 | Director: PAOLO SORRENTINO | Full details & Showtimes

Sorrentino’s previous The Great Beauty was an pulsing disquisition on modern Rome (many called it Fellini-esque), but it was sadly little-seen when released here in 2014. This follow-up stars the late-period Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as a composer and film director in the twilight of their careers, reflecting on their families, their legacies, and their vitality while surrounded at a spa in the Swiss Alps. Don’t miss this.

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