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Country Spotlights: France, Italy, Iran, & South Africa
COUNTRY SPOTLIGHTS
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VIFF always shows films from Italy, Iran and South Africa, but this year we'd like to bring special attention to the exceptional work these countries are now producing. Here they join our ongoing Spotlight on France. Your early attention will be rewarded!

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


FRANCE

The birthplace of cinema has a long and justly celebrated filmmaking tradition, rich in innovation and intelligence. VIFF's 2015 Spotlight on France once again celebrates that tradition with a wide-ranging selection of fiction and documentary features that showcases the vibrancy of "La France" and its filmmakers. From thrillers (Disorder) and period pieces (The Anarchists) to politically astute documentaries (Banking Nature) and ethnographic fiction (The Mask from San), our selection contains something that will cater to the tastes of every cinephile.

Air France SkyteamRadio-CanadauniFrance filmsConsulate General of France in Vancouver

The Anarchists
(Les Anarchistes)
FRANCE | DIR: ELIE WAJEMAN
Two of France's greatest young stars—Tahar Rahim (A Prophet) and Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Colour)—are at the centre of Elie Wajeman's exhilarating drama. A cop (Rahim) in Belle Époque Paris insinuates himself into an anarchist cell, only to find his loyalty wavering when he falls for the sensual Judith (Exarchopoulos)... "A vastly entertaining police-infiltration thriller that uses fin-de-siècle radicalism as an exquisitely atmospheric backdrop..." — Guardian

Adama
FRANCE | DIR: SIMON ROUBY
In Simon Rouby's evocative animated feature, a 12-year-old West African boy tracks his older brother's journey from village to port, to troop carrier and on to the war-torn fields of France, 1914. Despite the chaos, he clings to the hope that his brother can be returned home safely. Reminiscent of War Horse in its knack for conjuring fresh perspectives on well-trodden ground, this gorgeous fable will appeal to teens and pre-teens, as well as their parents and grandparents.

Banking Nature
(Nature, le nouvel Eldorado de la finance)
FRANCE | DIR: DENIS DELESTRAC, SANDRINE FEYDEL
Do pollinating bees have a market value? Can we put a price on the Amazon Rainforest? These are not hypothetical questions, as Denis Delestrac and Sandrine Feydal's clear-eyed and rigorously researched investigation shows. Under the guise of protecting nature, banks and multinationals—with the blessing of the UN, Europe and many NGOs—are mounting new financial markets that exploit "environmental protection" as a moneymaking enterprise. This occasionally chilling documentary makes explicit just how the financial world does indeed see nature as the new Eldorado...

Disorder
(Maryland)
FRANCE/BELGIUM | DIR: ALICE WINOCOUR
In Alice Winocour's taut, beautifully controlled drama, an Afghanistan veteran prone to panic attacks (Rust and Bone's Matthias Schoenaerts, indelible) is hired to protect a wealthy businessman's wife (Diane Kruger) and child at their luxurious coastal estate. Are the dangers he detects real or are they just PTSD symptoms caused by his war-time experiences? "A pulsing, sexy thriller... Schoenaerts at this point should be certified as a genuine movie star." — Vanity Fair

The Last Hammer Blow
(Le dernier coup de marteau)
FRANCE | DIR: ALIX DELAPORTE
Alix Delaporte's quietly affecting drama gives us 14-year-old Victor (a captivating Romain Paul) who lives in a trailer outside Montpellier with his very ill mother (Clotilde Hesme). Preparing him for life after she's gone, she puts him in touch with the father he's never known—an imposing orchestra conductor who's just arrived in town to perform Mahler's Sixth Symphony... "An intimate drama in which words play second fiddle to situations and images." — Hollywood Reporter

The Mask from San
(Le Masque de San)
FRANCE/MALI | DIR: JACQUES SARASIN
A long lost African mask is returned to its native Mali, while its keeper (Bakary Sangaré, from Samba Traoré) becomes a kind of ferryman from the world of the West into African civilization. Constructed as an ethnological road movie that progresses into a zone where magic and reality alternate, Jacques Sarasin's compelling mystery pins the viewer's attention from the outset and provides detailed insights into the lives and spirituality of everyday Malians.

My Friend Victoria
(Mon amie Victoria)
FRANCE | DIR: JEAN-PAUL CIVEYRAC
Based on a short story by Doris Lessing, Jean-Paul Civeyrac's subtle, emotionally resonant drama about class and race looks at the life of the titular character (Guslagie Malanda, a revelation) in her roles as lover, mother and black woman in modern Paris. When the orphaned Victoria, age 8, is invited into a well-to-do (white) artsy couple's bourgeois home, her view of the good life sets in motion a chain of events that will reverberate into her adulthood...

Portrait of the Artist
(Le dos rouge)
FRANCE | DIR: ANTOINE BARRAUD
A filmmaker (played by director Bertrand Bonello) in search of the definitive image of "the monstrous" forms the backbone of Antoine Barraud's fascinating mélange, one part drama, one part art history lesson, one part homage to past cinematic masters Buñuel and Hitchcock. Jeanne Balibar and Géraldine Pailhaus (playing the same art historian) accompany our intrepid director through a tour of some of Paris' most quixotic museums. The effect is "spellbinding." — ArtForum

Steak Revolution
FRANCE | DIR: FRANCK RIBIÈRE
What makes Angus Angus? What makes Kobe Kobe? Who's got the world's best beef? What's the best way to cook it? Can we feel less guilty about consuming all of it? What's in the cow's best interest? Are our interests, the cattle's and the planet's sustainability absolutely irreconcilable? We have the questions and Franck Ribière's Steak (R)evolution has the revealing answers, including how the most humane raising of livestock results in the most delectable steak. "Vegetarians beware—this mouthwatering documentary may just about convert you." — Hollywood Reporter

Vincent
(Vincent n'a pas d'ecailles)
FRANCE | DIR: THOMAS SALVADOR
Every time Vincent dives into a lake, the introvert transforms into something uncanny, leaping like a dolphin and brandishing superhuman strength. If there were a villain to vanquish, he'd be a superhero. Instead, he's left to wrestle with the very relatable fear of falling victim to persecution. "So persuasively does debut director-actor Thomas Salvador immerse the viewer in his imaginative world that it seduces entirely, in a silent comedy kind of way..." — Hollywood Reporter

We Did It on a  Song
(Chante ton bac d'abord)
FRANCE | DIR: DAVID ANDRÉ
Documentarian David André follows five teenagers from depressed Boulogne-sur-Mer throughout their final year at school, with the life-determining "baccalauréat" exams awaiting them at the end. Their lives, dreams and ambitions are captured in poetic visuals, in songs that the teenagers themselves provide, and in a captivating mélange of anger, humour, frustration and boredom..."Glee meets To Be and To Have... A touching film, [this] hybrid French docudrama-musical comedy... deserves extra credit for trying to pull off something new." — Hollywood Reporter

Previously announced films from France:

FRANCE/RUSSIA | DIR: RENÉ FÉRET
FRANCE | DIR: JACQUES AUDIARD

(La glace et le ciel)
FRANCE | DIR: LUC JACQUET
(L'Ombre des femmes)
FRANCE/SWITZERLAND | DIR: PHILIPPE GARREL
(La loi du marché)
FRANCE | DIR: STÉPHANE BRIZÉ
(Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse)
FRANCE | DIR: ARNAUD DESPLECHIN
(La tête haute)
FRANCE | DIR: EMMANUELLE BERCOT

ITALY

From the days of Boccaccio to the here and now, VIFF's 2015 collection of Italian films spans the centuries, providing a fresh, entertaining and insightful glimpse into one of the world's greatest filmmaking nations. Whether you choose the work of a master (Ermanno Olmi's Greenery Will Bloom Again; the Taviani brothers' Wondrous Boccaccio) or that of a relative newcomer (Cosima Spender's Palio; Duccio Chiarini's Short Skin), be prepared to be surprised and delighted—and occasionally challenged!

Istituto italiano di Cultura Toronto Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver

Greenery Will Bloom Again
(Torneranno i prati)
ITALY | DIR: ERMANNO OLMI
Italian master Ermanno Olmi (Il Posto, The Legend of the Holy Drinker) is the son of a WWI veteran, which may be why his powerful, exquisitely photographed and directed anti-war statement, made to commemorate the centenary of the conflagration, shows such intimate acquaintance with the travails of a group of Italian soldiers facing a suicide mission in the snowy Alps... "A poignant memorial... made with devastating simplicity and painful realism." — Hollywood Reporter

Love Among the Ruins
(Amore tra la Rovine)
ITALY | DIR: MASSIMO ALI MOHAMMAD
Bringing to mind Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist and Peter Jackson's Forgotten Silver, Massimo Ali Mohammad's charming mockumentary concerns the "miraculous" discovery and restoration of a long-lost WWI silent film melodrama made by the "Lumini brothers." After the scholars wax eloquent and the restorers perform their magic, we are treated to the 45-minute film—a doomed romance set in 1915—in toto... "A deeply sincere exercise in movie-nerd fantasy..." — Hollywood Reporter

Lost and Beautiful
(Bella e perduta)
ITALY | DIR: PIETRO MARCELLO
Pasolini's "cinema of poetry" as refracted through the lens of Italian neo-realism, Pietro Marcello's modern fairytale embodies myth and modernity in equal measure. The demi-god Pulcinella arrives in the Compania region to attend to the final wish of shepherd Tommaso: to save a young (talking) buffalo by the name of Sarchiapone. As Pulcinella and Sarchiapone wander the countryside in search of a new home for the latter, Italy and all its contradictions come alive...

Palio
ITALY/UK | DIR: COSIMA SPENDER
Siena is one of the world's most picturesque cities and the Palio is its crowning glory. Held twice a summer, this often ruthless bareback horse race brings pageantry and unparalleled intensity to the tight turns of the medieval town's Piazza del Campo. Cosima Spender's breathtaking documentary centres on a young upstart intent on making his mark in this cutthroat competition. "A remarkably concise and clear explanation of a complex, ancient tradition... How can something like this still exist? And how can one film capture it in such elegant detail?" — Vanity Fair

Short Skin
(I dolori del giovane Edo)
ITALY | DIR: DUCCIO CHIARINI
There comes a time in every young man's life when he has to... Well, come of age. This is certainly the pressing prime directive for Edoardo (Matteo Creatini) but his insecurities—and discomfort—are compounded by phimosis. While Duccio Chiarini's poignant sex dramedy is never gratuitous, that doesn't mean there isn't room for an uproarious scene of Edoardo attempting intimacy with an octopus. "Intimate and explicit without becoming exploitative." — Hollywood Reporter

Wondrous Baccaccio
(Maraviglioso Boccaccio)
italy | DIR: PAOLO TAVIANI, VITTORIO TAVIANI
Boccaccio's Decameron without sex may seem surprising, but desire, delight and the beauty of youth are everywhere here. A tapestry of colour and the supreme natural beauty of the medieval Italian countryside, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani's resplendent work, set in 1348, features ten young Florentines who hide from the plague in a country villa. To pass the time, they tell stories "that seem to vibrate with erotic passions inflamed by the presence of death." — New Yorker

Previously announced films from Italy:

(I nostri ragazzi)
ITALY | DIR: IVANO DE MATTEO
ITALY | DIR: ANDREA PRANDSTRALLER, NICCOLÒ BRUNA


IRAN

It has been for a long time now that Iranian cinema has produced several of each year's most deeply humane films. Our 2015 selection is particularly interesting, rich and diverse. It's time to spotlight this and to tip our hat. It's also time to ask why our government has set up trade embargoes on cultural products from Iran, whose interests that serves, and who gives them the right. No stronger impetus for more open dialogue could be made than seeing these films.

Paradise
(Ma dar Behesht)
IRAN/GERMANY | DIR: SINA ATAEIAN DENA
A fascinating and effective mix of documentary and fiction techniques, shot "guerrilla style" (without permission) on the streets of Tehran, Sina Ataeian Dena's feminist drama focuses on 25-year-old unmarried teacher Hanieh (newcomer Dorna Dibaj) as she doggedly pursues a promotion while facing casual sexism at every turn. "A sensitive, topical debut [that is] quietly affecting... The 'candid camera' approach adds a welcome edge of verisimilitude..." — Hollywood Reporter

Rainbow Island
Rainbow Island
(Jazireh-ye Rangin)
IRAN | DIR: KHOSROW SINAI
One of the most astonishingly exotic films in this year's festival has to be Khosrow Sinai's drama. The title refers to the island of Hormuz, with its extraordinary multicoloured soils, ancient Portuguese forts and folk-art traditions. How much are the custom-bound villagers willing to welcome the outside world? Enter Dr. Ahmad Nadalian, a highly educated interloper from Tehran who proposes a radical plan to transform the islands assets into a thriving cultural destination.

 
Previously announced films from Iran:

IRAN | DIR: JAFAR PANAHI
IRAN | DIR: IDA PANAHANDEH

IRAN/GERMANY/FRANCE | DIR: AYAT NAJAFI
(Chaharshanbeh, 19 Ordibehesht)
IRAN | DIR: VAHID JALILVAND



SOUTH AFRICA

Since the near civil war that occurred in the run-up to South Africa's historic 1994 elections, South African filmmakers have made great strides in their depictions of what is, admittedly, still a very troubled land. VIFF is proud to present a new crop of films from that nation. From the hip and colourfully "Afropolitan" Ayanda and the Mechanic to the gritty innocence of Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us, South African filmmakers are re-fashioning our understanding of a complex and multilayered country.
Department of Arts & Culture Republic of South Africa

Ayanda and the Mechanic
SOUTH AFRICA | DIR: SARA BLECHER
In a Johannesburg community, 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (the captivating Fulu Moguvhani) fights to keep alive her late father's legacy—his car-repair garage. Sara Blecher's (Otelo Burning) multicultural, colourful and vibrant drama captures the "Afropolitan" nature of the new South Africa. "Absolutely worth seeing for its representation of a modern African story, which is uniquely, distinctively African, but also urban, fresh, and contemporary..." —Indiewire

The Boda Boda Thieves
(Abbabi ba boda boda)
UGANDA / SOUTH AFRICA / KENYA / GERMANY | DIR: DONALD MUGISHA, JAMES TAYLER
Conceived as an homage to the classic Bicycle Thieves, Donald Mugisha and James Tayler's unsparing look at life on the streets of Kampala—neorealism "with a youthful edge" in their words—is anchored in the story of Abel, 15, who takes over his father's motorcycle taxi (the "boda boda" of the title) and is immediately confronted by a corrupt world where a wrong turn, vehicular or otherwise, can have drastic consequences. "Poignant as well as entertaining." — Indiewire

Breathe Umphefumlo
SOUTH AFRICA | DIR: MARK DORNFORD-MAY
Ten years ago, Mark Dornford-May and the Isango Ensemble burst upon the scene with Berlin Golden Bear-winner U-Carmen eKhayelitsha, their stirring adaptation of Bizet's Carmen. Drawing once again from an operatic source—Puccini's La bohème—Dornford-May and team bring the Xhosa language, exceptional singing voices and traditional instrumentation to a Cape Town-set tragedy focusing on the doomed love of university student Lungelo (Mhlekazi Mosiea) for the tuberculosis-stricken Mimi (Busisiwe Ngejane).

Thina Sobabili: The Two of Us
SOUTH AFRICA | DIR: ERNEST NKOSI
A young man will do anything to protect his younger sister after witnessing her abuse as a child. That doesn't make things easy for either of them as the girl tries to spread her wings. Mixing theatricality, naïveté, innocence and shocking violence in a highly distinctive way, Ernest Nkosi's dramatization of siblings struggling to carve out an existence in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg is tender and tragic by turns. An extraordinarily plaintive score adds another dimension to this heartfelt debut.

Previously announced films from South Africa:

SOUTH AFRICA / EGYPT / JORDAN / FRANCE / NETHERLANDS | DIR: FRANÇOIS VERSTER

MARK YOUR CALENDARS
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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


A standing-room only event for the past 10 years, this day-long series of sessions is designed for (but not limited to) emerging writers, directors, and producers of film, television, and digital media.

+ Back by popular demand, our Power to the Indie Program and Lab will empower filmmakers to explore and leverage new partners in direct distribution, marketing and audience engagement in order to help them succeed in the competitive 21st century marketplace. The Digital Lab will provide collaborative opportunities for selected filmmaking teams to explore and create individual, actionable strategies to assist in the crowd funding, marketing, release and distribution of their films 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.