Browse Tag

VIFF 2012

VIFF 2012: Vancouver Wrap

Vancouver isn’t the critical/awards bellwether that Toronto or Venice or New York or even Telluride can claim to be, but this year its international line-up offers an interesting contrast in temperaments.

Mad Mikkelsen in ‘The Hunt’

On the one hand, there is the cinema of issues and big statements carried by a dour seriousness and emotional heaviness (one might say manipulation), defined in particular by Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt (Denmark/Sweden) and Michael Haneke’s Amour (France/Germany/Austria). On the other is the serious engagement of cinematic creativity and narrative mystery and surprise in Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (France/Germany) and Raul Ruiz’s Night Across the Street (Chile/France). Here the themes are not hammered into the skulls and skin of the audience but juggled through celebrations of joyous filmmaking and deft play with the possibilities of the medium.

Vinterberg’s The Hunt, a study in rumor and fear fueling self-righteous hysteria, and Haneke’s Amour, an unflinching, almost clinic portrait in the physical deterioration and emotional fallout of old age and debilitating illness), frame their subjects with a mix of objectivity and compassion, and then stack the decks to set out protagonists in opposition to the world. It’s not enough that they face such dire predicaments, but their allies all turn against them. In The Hunt, best friends turns their backs on Mads Mikkelsen, and in Amour, the daughter of the ailing old Emmanuelle Riva repeats clichés instead of educating herself on her condition or offering substantive help in caring for her.

Continue reading at Fandor’s Keyframe

VIFF 2012: Vancouver’s Dragons & Tigers and More

It might be an exaggeration to say the well-attended 16-day Vancouver International Film Festival is the greatest little-known film festival on the continent, or it might not be. It is, by design, an audience festival rather than a film critic destination. Opening just weeks after the Toronto International has closed, it offers few major premieres but plenty of quality films shuttling between Venice, Cannes and Toronto, before heading into wide release or traveling further onto the festival circuit.

This year’s edition kicked off on Thursday, September 27, with a gala screening of Midnight’s Children, a Canada-India co-production from Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, and closes on Friday, October 12, with Leos Carax’s Holy Motors. In between are screenings of Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner Amour, Ken Loach’s Cannes Jury Prize winner The Angel’s Share, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt (Best Actor at Cannes), Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (Best Actress and Best Screenplay, Cannes), Christian Petzold’s Barbara (Best Director, Berlin), Ben Lewin’s Sundance winner The Sessions, Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love, Pablo Larrain’s No, Olivier Assayas’s Venice premiere Something in the Air, Raul Ruiz’s final film, Night Across the Street, the international premiere of Any Day Now (an audience-award winner at Seattle and Tribeca), and the North American premiere of I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and directed by her son, Barnaby Southcombe, just to name a few of the over 230 features playing over two-plus weeks. I resist the temptation to use the old term “unspool” because only a fraction of the films are presented on 35mm—a sign of the times. Most films are digital now, but unlike a certain major American event, not a single DCP screening in my five-day visit was cancelled for equipment failure.

My focus is and has for years been the Dragons and Tigers sidebar: the biggest focus on contemporary Asian cinema in North America. The Dragons and Tigers lineup is valuable as both an introduction to new films from young filmmakers and a snapshot of commercial cinemas of Asia, from South Korea and Japan to China and the Philippines. It comprises 45 features, a handful of mid-length (under an hour) films, and dozens of shorts—too many to do anything more than sample. Armed with a catalogue, a few recommendations and my own instinct and tastes, that’s what I did.

Continue reading at Fandor

VIFF 2012 – Dispatch 1

The Vancouver International Film Festival is one of the overlooked gems of North American film festivals. Opening weeks after Toronto, it screens over 230 features and 150 shorts over 16 days across ten theaters, all within strolling distance in downtown Vancouver. (An eleventh theater, the Park Theater across the bridge, is drafted into service for a few days of special 3D presentations; it’s easily accessible via the Tram.)

Because of its proximity to Toronto, the behemoth that launches the North American premieres of most of the award season favorites, Vancouver manages to grab some of the year’s most anticipated films: Michael Hanake’s Amour, Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love, Pablo Larrain’s No, Leos Carax’s Holy Motors, some of them screening before their American premiere at the New York Film Festival.

But even more interesting for me is the “Dragons and Tigers” section, the biggest focus on contemporary Asian cinema in North America. The Dragons and Tigers line-up is valuable as both an introduction to new films from young filmmakers and a snapshot of commercial cinemas of the Asia, from South Korea and Japan to China and the Philippines. 45 features, a handful of mid-length (under an hour) films, and dozens of shorts. Too many to do anything more than sample. Armed with a catalogue, a few recommendations, and my own instinct and tastes, that’s what I did.

Nameless Gangster

South Korea in particular arrives in force: 11 features (including three in competition for the Dragons and Tigers award) and two “Special Presentation” screenings: Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time (dir: Yoon Jong-bin) and A Werewolf Boy (dir: Jo Sung-hee), both bright, energetic, soundly commercial films.

Nameless Gangster is an organized crime drama that is more character piece and offbeat drama than action thriller. It plays on the definition of daebu – godfather – in Korean culture, meaning both an elder member of a clan and a crime boss. Choi Ik-hyun (played by Choi Min-sik of Oldboy), a petty customs officer on the docks who pads his income with bribes, discovers that he is related to a yakuza-connected gangster when he stumbles across contraband heroine and decides to sell it himself. But establishing himself as a clan elder to a genuine gangster isn’t the same as being an actual mob godfather, as he finds out when he tries to flex his power over the men working for his “partner.” Choi isn’t quite a clown and he’s savvy in the ways of bureaucratic bribery and clan affiliations, but he’s out of his depth when it comes to flexing gang muscles in the power games as he greases the rails in a plan to get into the Seoul casino business.

Keep Reading