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For Immediate Release: September 9, 2012
Media Department: 604.646.4770 media@viff.org



Garden in the Sea

Good films are sensually, emotionally and intellectually immersive. They transport you to places and experiences, and the big screen experience is central and essential to this thrill.

Just as environmental sensitivity and ethics are often borne from direct contact with that small part of life outside “safe cities” and computer screens, there are films which awaken appreciation of the wonder of nature. Vancouverites love these films, and from that good things flow.

WWF-Canada is sponsoring this sixth edition of our Environmental Series, and shares with us a particular focus on biodiversity, the health of our oceans and freshwater systems, climate change and the sustainable coexistence of people and other species.

Our series this year takes its title from Thomas Riedelsheimer’s (River and Tides) transfixing chronicle of an environmentally enhancing and aesthetically daring sculpture in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Art does indeed play a role in several of these films, and so does science. We as programmers are interested less in straightforward messages about what ails our planet than in seeing important new information conveyed in aesthetically powerful ways: science and art in the service of cinema and in the service of our planet’s interests. Technology plays an important role in many ways, including the fact that new miniaturized mobile camera equipment has enabled visions of nature to take on astonishing new dimensions on screen. From Birders, The Central Park Effect, to Bitter Seeds, to the shocking dark abstractions of Leviathan, there are bombs planted in this series. Policy bombs too. See if you can find them!

In addition to the films in our Environmental Series, several other films with environmental relevance are found elsewhere in the program. WWF-Canada's iconic logo helps identify these additional important offerings:

Bay of All Saints
The Carbon Rush
Postcards from the Zoo
small roads
Street Dogs of South Central
Valley of Saints

VIFF’s Environmental Series is sponsored by:

Garden in the Sea Environmental Series

Garden in the Sea

(Jardin en el mar)

Mexico/Germany | Dir: Thomas Riedelsheimer

VIFF favourite Thomas Riedelsheimer (Rivers and Tides, Touch the Sound) returns with another visually transfixing exploration of art and nature, this time chronicling the efforts of Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias as she installs an environmentally enhancing and aesthetically daring sculpture in the Sea of Cortez at Candelor Bay in Baja, CA.

Screens with:


Canada | Dir: Cameron Denison

World Premiere

Fifty artists band together to protest the Northern Gateway project, proposed by Enbridge and its international partners, by taking up paintbrushes and carving tools to create works depicting the fragility of our western coastline. Cameron Denison captures this inspiring act of social and artistic protest.


Into the Gyre


USA | Dir: Scott Elliott | Official Website

Canadian Premiere

Boarding a tall ship with a team of scientists and sailors, filmmaker Scott Elliott voyages to the North Atlantic Gyre and explores the full extent of plastic pollution. An eye-opening document of the damage that’s been done to our oceans.

Screens with:


USA | Dir: Evan Abramson, Carmen Elsa Lopez Abramson | Official Website

Needing to boil their contaminated drinking water to stave off illness, women in Kenya’s Western Province sacrifice everything—including education and personal safety—to scrounge for firewood. Evan Abramson and Carmen Elsa Lopez highlight the inspired solution that’s been found for this environmental crisis.

Bottled Life

(Nestlés Geschäfte mit dem Wasser)

Switzerland | Dir: Urs Schnell | Official Website | View Trailer

Canadian Premiere

Why is it that Nestlé—the biggest name in bottled water—doesn’t want to talk about its success? When denied interview requests, journalist Res Gehriger and documentarian Urs Schnell instead investigate the company’s suspect business practices and unsubstantiated claims of social responsibility. A trickle of unsettling information quickly becomes a flood.


Bad Weather


Germany/UK | Dir: Giovanni Giommi

Canadian Premiere

Already beset by social and economic hardship, a Bangladeshi brothel island now finds its very existence threatened by rising sea levels and devastating storms. Initially an unflinching account of the island’s ostracized but remarkably spunky women and children, Giovanni Giommi’s unforgettable documentary gradually evolves into a humane but Breughelian vision.



Canada | Dir: Rob Stewart

The true-life adventures of Rob Stewart, this follow-up to his acclaimed Sharkwater takes him through 15 countries over four years, where he’ll discover that it’s not only sharks that are in grave danger—it’s our oceans and, indeed, humanity itself.


Survival Prayer


USA/Canada | Dir: Benjamin Greené | View Trailer

International Premiere

As Haida Gwaii’s residents strive to harvest sufficient food for winter, Benjamin Greené celebrates their sacred relationship with the land and praises their vital environmental stewardship. Rhythmic and reverential, Greené’s film gradually assumes the form of a ceremonial prayer: poetic, lilting and magical. With Nangchen Shorts, three new short films by Bari Pearlman documenting life in Tibet—at elevation 14,000 feet.

Film Image


Switzerland/Germany/Austria | Dir: Markus Imhoof

Millions of bees have disappeared worldwide over the past few years. Given the importance of bees to life on earth, are we facing a total system collapse? Looking for answers, Markus Imhoof travels from the Alps to the Arizona desert, interviewing experts ranging from beekeepers to scientists. Unlike earlier films on the subject, Imhoof’s offers up a possible solution…




USA/France/UK | Dir: Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel | Official Website

Having pushed the boundaries of the documentary form with Sweetgrass (VIFF 09) and Foreign Parts (VIFF 10), Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel now collaborate on a "gorgeous-looking paean to the world of fishing… a breathtakingly lyrical take on the ritualistic hunting process at its center."—Indiewire.
Winner, FIPRESCI prize, Locarno 2012.

Bitter Seeds


USA/India | Dir: Micha X. Peled | Official Website | View Trailer | Facebook

Canadian Premiere

With industrial agriculture seemingly thriving in India, why has the suicide rate amongst farmers spiked to unthinkable levels? Micha X. Peled’s stirring piece of investigative journalism travels to Kashmir to expose the human cost of genetically modified crops and celebrates the aspiring reporter who’s trying to sound the alarm. Winner, Green Screen Award, Oxfam Global Justice Award, IDFA 2011.


Raising Resistance


Germany/Switzerland | Dir: Bettina Borgfeld, David Bernet | Official Website | View Trailer

North American Premiere

Genetically modified soy has been taking over more and more farmland in Paraguay—a situation that has put enormous strain on subsistence-farming campesinos determined to provide for their families the old-fashioned way. Bettina Borgfeld and David Bernet’s cogent documentary explores the big business model vs. traditional methods with an insight that leads to universal truths.

Birders The Central Park Effect


USA | Dir: Jeffrey Kimball

International Premiere

The more birds can’t find hospitable landings, the more they need places like Central Park. While Manhattan’s chaos hardly seems conducive to a meditative pursuit like birding, amateur ornithologists flock there to catch glimpses of over 117 species. Bolstered by stellar cinematography, Jeffrey Kimball’s documentary catalogues these beguiling creatures and their equally colourful admirers (including author Jonathan Franzen).


Heart of Sky Heart of Earth

(Herz des Himmels, Herz der Erde)

Germany/USA/Guatemala | Dir: Frauke Sandig, Eric Black | Official Website

North American Premiere

The location of the world’s largest—and possibly toxic—gold-mine pit, Guatemala is also the homeland of the Maya and their decidedly holistic cosmology. Frauke Sandig and Eric Black’s kaleidoscopically beautiful documentary follows the daily and ceremonial lives of six articulate young Maya as they struggle to maintain their way of life.

Stories from Lakka Beach


Netherlands | Dir: Daan Veldhuizen | Official Website | View Trailer

North American Premiere

Beach resort tourism in this gorgeous part of Africa has been slow to recover from Sierra Leone’s civil war of the 1990s. Daan Veldhuizen’s charming and visually exquisite documentary finds a gentle community bereft of the tourists that once flocked to it but teeming with philosophical stories and plans for a better future.




Brazil | Dir: Cao Hamburger

Recounting the origins of Brazil’s immense Xingu National Park, Cao Hamburger’s breathtaking epic charts two key journeys in the lives of the renowned Villas-Bôas brothers: their bold trek to the remote central Amazon in 1943 and subsequent transformation from callow adventurers to passionate activists for indigenous people’s rights. "Compulsive viewing."—Screen Daily



USA | Dir: Karin Hayes, Victoria Bruce | Official Website | View Trailer | Facebook

Canadian Premiere

Failing economies = austerity measures = cutbacks in social programs + job creation trumping environmental protection. Is this the big lie? Victoria Bruce and Karin Hayes’ hard-nosed polemic squares off with the American corporations that gallingly shirk their duties as taxpayers. And while the machinations of multinationals like Exxon and Google will leave you seething, the film also offers an inspirational view of informed activism.


Film Image


Canada | Dir: Amy Miller | Official Website | View Trailer

Director Amy Miller investigates threatened ways of life in Panama, India and Honduras, exposing projects that claim to be sustainable and purport to offer innovative solutions to climate change, but seem to create more problems than they solve.


Take your mark. VIFF’s box office opens noon on Monday, Sept. 10th.

  • ONLINE at viff.org
  • BY PHONE Noon — 7 pm at 604–685–8297
  • IN–PERSON Noon — 7 pm

Vancity Theatre
1181 Seymour Street (at Davie)

What’s New This Year

We’ve taken the leap into the 21st Century and are pleased to offer VIFF Audiences enhanced box office services.

PRINT AT HOME + SMART PHONE TICKET DELIVERY: Advance Tickets can now be purchased up to one hour prior to showtime and conveniently delivered to your email for printing or to your smart phone mobile device. Please present your Print at Home ticket or Smart Phone Display at entry to the venue, where the barcode will be verified. VIFF membership must also be presented.

EXPANDED WILL CALL: Advance Ticket purchasers will enjoy the added flexibility of picking up WILL CALL tickets at any Venue Box Office during hours of festival operation.

During the Festival advance tickets will be available from any box office up until one hour before the showtime. After that, tickets are only available at the door of the venue, subject to availability. Note that even when those tickets are sold out, rush tickets are often available.

MASTERCARD & DEBIT CARD: VIFF now accepts Visa and MasterCard everywhere, and debit cards in person.


VIFF welcomes audiences to attend screenings and with low regular ticket prices, discount ticket packages and festival passes, VIFF is one of the most accessible International Film Festivals in North America. Seats are often still available at show time for the wide majority of films, but you'll want to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

In order to help you with your planning, watch for the GREEN-AMBER-RED system. You can tell how busy a screening is expected to be by checking the online ticketing site or the "Screening Today" signs in front of each Theatre.

PLENTY = plenty seats available.

GOING FAST = seats still available, but get there early.

LIMITED = limited seats still available, but running out.

RUSH ONLY = rush tickets only; advance tickets sold out.

Tickets + Passes, What’s The Best Deal For You

SINGLE TICKETS are best if you want to keep it simple or you just want to attend a few films. Simply search the film guide and select your films.

TICKET PACKS offer savings and may be the best if you want to attend at least 10 evening films and are able to decide on most of your titles ahead of time. The more you buy, the better the deal.

PASSES are best if you want maximum flexibility to see as many films as possible and don't mind taking your chances on available seats. There is ample room for passholders at the majority of screenings.

PLATINUM PASSES are ideal if you want the best of all worlds, including guaranteed seating in the reserved section up to 5 minutes before showtime


Sept. 10 - VIFF Advance Box Office Opens
Sept. 15 - VIFF Official Program Catalogue On Sale
Sept. 26 - VIFF Film + TV Forum Starts
Sept. 27 - VIFF Opens. Yeah!

Vancouver International Film Festival | VIFF 2012

September 27 - October 12, 2012 | Film Info: 604.683.FILM (3456) | VIFF Office: 604.685.0260