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Music and the Arts at VIFF
ARTS + LETTERS + MUSIC FILMS
PREVIOUS PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENTS
IMPORTANT VIFF INFORMATION

We've just added 22 films that showcase the performing and fine arts in spectacular cinematic fashion!

More films will be announced on a weekly basis, with the full festival program revealed on September 3, 2015.


MUSIC & DANCE
SPAIN/FRANCE/ARGENTINA | DIR: CARLOS SAURA
Carlos Saura's latest sumptuous documentary plunges us into the heart of traditional Argentine dance and music, via a succession of choreographed tableaux retracing a history rich in métissage. With a unique approach to its mise en scène, documentary images from different regions of Argentina gracefully mix with awe-inspiring traditional songs, performed by the country's greatest singers, including a tribute to the much revered Mercedes Sosa. Both poetic and fascinating, Saura's film conjures the entire history of the country and sets it to the tune of guitars and accordion.

USA | DIR: NELSON GEORGE
Some ascents to stardom are meteoric. Others are a gruelling marathon. Ballerina Misty Copeland learned early on that not everything comes easily for a teen prodigy. Especially when you're African-American and racial homogeny is part of ballet's exclusivity. Nelson George's inside look at the art and industry of ballet invites us to marvel at Copeland's courage and grace but question what goes on behind closed curtains. Most importantly, it gives us a real-life heroine to root for with all our hearts. "Inspirational doesn't begin to describe it."
Rolling Stone

ITALY | DIR: ANDREA PRANDSTRALLER, NICCOLÒ BRUNA
Built 2,000 years ago, the majestic Verona amphitheatre—the biggest opera venue in the world— is, indeed, a "magic arena." Andrea Prandstraller and Niccolò Bruna chronicle the Spanish avant garde theatre troupe La Fura Dels Baus' rehearsals and opening night presentation of Verdi's Aida, staged 100 years after its original performance there, and capture revelatory glimpses of many of the 2,000 workers responsible for this epic undertaking. "A compelling fly-on-the-wall, behind-the-scenes portrait that should prove catnip to opera lovers." — Hollywood Reporter

SOUTH AFRICA/EGYPT/JORDAN/FRANCE/NETHERLANDS
| DIR: FRANÇOIS VERSTER
A beautifully realized paean to art and democracy, set in Istanbul, Cairo, Beirut and Alexandria, François Verster's ambitious, multilayered documentary combines the tale of Shahrazad (and the 1001 stories she tells) with many other stories of the modern Arab world. From the National Youth Orchestra in Istanbul, to a troupe of actors/storytellers in Cairo, to a lone tapestry artist (amongst many others), Verster's profoundly secular-humanist work skips back and forth through time and space to weave its own striking tapestry about the modernizing force of art.

NETHERLANDS | DIR: CARMEN COBOS
Rarely have classical music feuds been as acrimonious as the clash between creative heavyweights captured in Carmen Cobos' riveting documentary. Despite his distaste for symphony orchestras, celebrated avant-garde composer Louis Andriessen is coerced into collaborating with Mariss Jansons and Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Andriessen's piece is characteristically challenging but also extremely personal, ensuring that the imposition of Jansons' traditional sensibilities is seen as an affront. Will the world premiere leave their reputations in tatters?

NETHERLANDS | DIR: RAMÓN GIELING
Bach's beautiful St. Matthew's Passion and how it has profoundly affected the lives of, among others, opera director Peter Sellars, conductor Pieter Jan Leusink, writer Anna Enquist and soprano Olga Zinovieva are the twin subjects of Ramón Gieling's stunningly shot and exquisitely choreographed inquiry into "a language beyond understanding." In an abandoned Amsterdam church, a homeless choir joins Leusink's orchestra and soloists in a performance sure to raise goosebumps for music-lovers of all persuasions.

USA | DIR: N.C. HEIKIN
Not familiar with Frank Morgan? He was Charlie Parker's protégé and played with Billie Holiday. His father always said that Frank was "the best sax player in the world. But..." That "but" concealed a multitude of sins: bank robbery, larceny, forgery and burglary. Instead of a career, he had a habit. This music doc includes fascinating insights into jazz and race in the 50s and is full of historical tidbits, musical lore and interviews with Gary Giddins, Michael Connelly, Ron Carter, Clora Bryant and Delfeayo Marsalis.

USA/CANADA | DIR: JESSICA EDWARDS
"We've come this evening to bring you some joy, happiness, inspiration, and some pos-i-tive vi-brations," Mavis Staples tells concertgoers at the opening of this irresistible portrait of the irrepressible gospel/soul legend—a vow the movie delivers on. The Staples Singers married gospel and delta blues in the 50s, sang Freedom songs for the civil rights movement in the 60s, and topped the charts with "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There" in the 70s. Interviewees include Bob Dylan and Jeff Tweedy but it's Mavis's huge voice that does the real talking.

(PACO DE LUCIA: LA BÚSQUEDA)
SPAIN | DIR: FRANCISCO SÁNCHEZ VARELA
An intimate and gloriously musical chronicle of the life of the late, legendary Andalusian flamenco guitarist, Francisco Sánchez Varela's captivating documentary features contemporary interviews and ample archival footage of the master in full flight alongside other flamenco legends José Greco, Sabicas, Niño Ricardo and Bambino Camarón. No doubt due to the fact that he's de Lucía's son, Varela also shows us the relaxed and candid side of the great musician and his unparalleled talent, a talent that was cut short when de Lucía died unexpectedly last year.

Best Documentary, Goya Awards 15

IRAN/GERMANY/FRANCE | DIR: AYAT NAJAFI
Before the Islamic Revolution banned solo performances by women, Iran boasted popular female vocalists like Delkash and Googoosh. No longer willing to see women's voices silenced, musician Sara Najafi aspires to stage a concert in Tehran. Her brother Ayat helms this revealing documentary that details the bureaucratic obstacles and theological arguments that stand between her and such a seemingly simple goal. And while the women's glorious songs lend the film uplift, it's Sara's courageous determination in battling institutional discrimination that truly inspires.

Best Documentary, Montreal World 15

USA | DIR: SUSAN GRAY
Hailing from opposite ends of the Earth, two accomplished acrobats work towards the same goal: to use the art form of circus to instill hope in the youth who languish in the impoverished communities the artists once called home. Nimbly shuttling us between Nunavut and Guinea, Susan Gray’s uplifting documentary invites us to marvel as these men, whose athleticism is only exceeded by their altruism, guide the most marginalized of youth from their first tentative backflips to centre stage at the Vancouver Olympics and Cirque du Soleil.


ECHOES OF THE PAST
IRELAND | DIR: AOIFE KELLEHER
Glasnevin Cemetery holds not just the final remains of 1.5-million Dubliners but the infinite stories that are buried along with them. Fortunately, Aoife Kelleher's documentary has avuncular historian Shane MacThomais to guide us through the sprawling grounds and the colourful pasts of the late luminaries (and unknowns) laid to rest there. MacThomais' personality suffuses the film, ensuring a tone that's buoyant rather than funereal as he enlightens us on everything from burial procedures to posthumous celebrity. "Comprehensive and beautifully filmed..." — Irish Times

Best Documentary, Galway 14

UK | DIR: VIRGINIA HEATH
Unearthing a treasure trove of archival footage, Virginia Heath's montage film offers a kaleidoscopic tour of mid-20th century Scotland. As we glimpse evocative vignettes of labour and leisure, protests and parades, strife and revelry, we enter a world seemingly conjured from the realms of fantasy rather than reels of found footage. And playing throughout are King Creosote's lush chamber pop songs, which lend a captivating sense of lore to every scene and heighten the film's intimacy. "An immersive, moving and, at times, truly magical window on the past..." — Guardian

UK | DIR: KIM LONGINOTTO
Remember the montage of stolen movie kisses the projectionist cuts together in Cinema Paradiso? Kim Longinotto's glorious valentine to love does something quite similar: it's an assemblage of flirtation, courtship, weddings and a bit of hanky-panky. Some scenes are familiar but mostly these are forgotten films, or they're home movies, snippets of old newsreels, orphan sequences lost and found. Artfully entwined and set to Richard Hawley's luxuriant ballads, they become the most romantic movie you'll see this year.


ART, ADMIRERS, & INNOVATORS
UK/USA | DIR: RANDALL WRIGHT
The art and unbridled personality of acclaimed British artist David Hockney are brought to vivid life in Randall Wright's treatise on the man's memorable and influential career and personal history. Intimate and insightful, the portrait delves deeply to reveal a charismatic rebel, still searching for new ways of looking, whose passion for art remains intense and whose wry sense of humour still shines through. "A wealth of intimate home-movie footage and an affinity with his subject invigorate Wright's unashamedly affectionate portrait of a British icon." — Observer

UK/CANADA | DIR: MARK LEWIS
Renowned Canadian film and video installation artist Mark Lewis takes us on a tour of art and architecture that transports us from Toronto to São Paolo to Paris' Musée du Louvre. Likened to the great city symphony films of the silent era, Lewis' new work is at once mesmerizingly beautiful, technically awe-inspiring and intellectually challenging. As the Louvre (which commissioned a series from him that has been on exhibition this past year) put it, Lewis' work "suggests that film came before cinematographic technology, invented in the eye of the viewer."

USA | DIR: LISA IMMORDINO VREELAND
Peggy Guggenheim not only amassed one of the world's most impressive collections of contemporary art but also rightfully earned a reputation as the consummate bohemian. In her wildly entertaining follow up to Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, Lisa Immordino Vreeland explores how Guggenheim forsook her bourgeois birthright in favour of crashing international art scenes and discovering the likes of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko in the process. "[With] so many love affairs and ego clashes Art Addict never feels a bit like a history lesson." — Hollywood Reporter

CANADA | DIR: PHYLLIS ELLIS
Phyllis Ellis' investigative film is equal parts mystery, history and adventure. Algoma's tangled wilderness and Lake Superior's expansive North Shore inspired The Group of Seven, particularly their guiding spirit, Tom Thomson. In Ellis' enthralling documentary, three modern-day adventurers canoe across lakes, bushwhack through untamed forests and scale cliffs to seek out the vistas that inspired these artists. Seeing the iconic paintings side by side with the astonishing locations that inspired them is a reminder of art's power and this land's majestic beauty.

GERMANY | DIR: FLORIAN HEINZEN-ZIOB, GEORG HEINZEN
Like his father before him, Sheikh Rehman has spent a lifetime designing Bollywood film posters for the ancient Alfred Talkies cinema in Mumbai. His huge banners teem with all the energy and action one expects from the films themselves. But times are changing—the Alfred Talkies' audience is dwindling and plastic posters are becoming the norm... Florian Heinzen-Ziob and Georg Heinzen's alternately vibrant and elegiac film holds focus on the colourful Rehman, a man who energetically plies his trade even as the only life he has known disappears around him.


FILMMAKING
The Thoughts That Once We Had
USA | DIR: THOM ANDERSEN
Cal Arts film essayist Thom Andersen (Los Angeles Plays Itself) has crafted a film lover's dream, inspired by the cinema theory of the brilliant French philosopher Gilles Deleuze but based mostly on his own lifelong erudite engagement with the history and seductive power of the movies. Whether zeroing in on lyrical abstraction, ruminating on Nazis, communists and spies, or comparing Maria Montez and Debra Paget's Orientalist snake dances, this is a gift for anyone who believes in cinema as art, as a form of thought and as a source of great pleasure.


ARCHITECTURE
SPAIN/ANDORRA | DIR: ANGEL BORREGO CUBERO
When Andorra—that tiny-yet-wealthy principality high in the Pyrenees—decided it needed a fabulous new art gallery to rival Bilbao's, invitations went out to the world's top architects. Norman Foster, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Dominique Perrault were among the heavy-hitters who not only took on the design competition but consented to be part of this warts-and-all film. "A documentary that exposes how 'starchitects' really work... Compulsive viewing." — Guardian


PHYSICIAN TURNED PLAYWRIGHT
FRANCE/RUSSIA | DIR: RENÉ FÉRET
This assured, astute biopic from the late René Féret actually winds its way through an entire formative decade for the physician-turned-playwright (Nicolas Giraud) as he discovers his voice and purpose, and intrigues us at every turn. "This can be credited not only to Féret's precise writing and direction but also to the strength of Giraud as a performer, as he manages to project his character's emotions with just a look or the tiniest of facial movements." — Hollywood Reporter

MARK YOUR CALENDARS
Passes + Ticket Packs On Sale Now (online only at viff.org)
THU SEP 3
All Ticket Sales (online at viff.org, starting at noon)
VIFF Complete Festival Program Guide available at locations around town

SAT SEP 12
In-Person Advance Sales start at Vancity Theatre Box Office, 1181 Seymour St (Noon-7pm).

THU SEP 24
34th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival opens
All venue box offices open, 30 minutes before the first screening of the day

VIFF Industry Conference
SAVE THE DATE: September 29 – October 3, 2015
PASSES ON SALE NOW


The premier screen-based media conference on the West Coast, VIFF Industry offers five days of professional development and business networking for registered participants. A new initiative this year is VIFF Industry Exchange in partnership with the CMPA-BC — the only Canadian marketplace of its kind devoted specifically to Digital Online Content. The 2015 program will also allow delegates to view the screen based media landscape through a new lens with a special focus on Virtual Reality and Finding an Audience: the DNA of Discoverability

New Initiative for 2015 include:
In partnership with the B.C. branch of the Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA-BC), this two day marketplace delivers an integrated program that includes business-to-business meetings with participating buyers, commissioning editors, advertising and branding agencies; Ted-style talks; and buyer briefings.


Learn more.



About VIFF

Founded in 1982, the Greater Vancouver International Film Festival Society is a not-for-profit cultural society and federally registered charitable organization that operates the internationally acclaimed Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), the annual VIFF Industry Conference and the year-round programming of the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre. Its mandate is to encourage understanding of the world's cultures through the art of cinema, to foster the art of cinema, to facilitate the meeting in British Columbia of cinema professionals from around the world, and to stimulate the motion picture industry in British Columbia. In its 34th year, the Vancouver International Film Festival welcomes the world to Vancouver from September 24-October 9, 2015 as it showcases the top BC, Canadian and international films and plays host to industry professionals from around the globe.