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Vancouver International Film Festival 2016 | Sep 29 - Oct 14 | viff.org
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Panorama: Cinemas from India / Iran / Africa / Middle East
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VIFF's Panorama stream invites viewers to experience a dizzying spectrum of world cinema, including the latest from an Iranian master, a gripping Israeli/Palestinian hip-hop drama, a Saudi Arabian rom-com with strong feminist overtones and two gems that signal a Tunisian filmmaking renaissance.

This year, VIFF expands the frame to create multi-experiential programming streams that include curated screenings fused with related talks and events in a unique 'film plus' model. You can now find what you already love even more easily and discover new areas of interest. For a list of our streams and announcements click here.

Egyptian Films | VIFF 2016
Sins of the Flesh
(Haram El Gasad)
KHALED EL HAGAR, EGYPT, 2016, 124 MIN.
North American Premiere
WED OCT 5, 8:15 PM, INTL VILLAGE 8
FRI OCT 7, 3:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
From Khaled El Hagar, one of Egypt’s most controversial filmmakers, comes a drama of betrayal, passion and political upheaval. As millions of Egyptians gather to demand the overthrow of President Mubarak, an intimate struggle for freedom plays out on a farm, where Fatma (Nahed El Sebai), confined to a marriage of convenience, begins a transgressive affair. This is a scathing critique of the establishment, with an unflinching climax that questions where the revolution is headed and what it’s accomplished.

Ghana Films | VIFF 2016
Nakom
KELLY DANIELA NORRIS, T.W. PITTMAN, GHANA/USA, 2016, 82 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
FRI SEP 30, 1:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
SUN OCT 9, 6:30 PM, RIO
They say home is where the heart is. Well, that maxim is put to the test in this gem of a film. The country is Ghana; our hero is a medical student who returns to his hometown following his father’s death. There he faces a family farm in disarray, his dad’s two feuding widows and many more problems, including the question of his future… “An unassuming but winning ambition-versus-roots tale… [The film] readily captures the specificity of its setting and of local mores.”—Hollywood Reporter

Indian Films | VIFF 2016

Pihu
VINOD KAPRI, INDIA, 2016, 94 MIN.
International Premiere
FRI SEP 30, 9:15 PM, SFU-GCA • SUN OCT 2, 1:45 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
It takes confidence to make a film with only one character, but to make that character a two-year-old girl goes beyond the audacious into the realm of… well, let’s call it “cinema.” Director Vinod Kapri’s suspenseful charmer begins with toddler Pihu (Pihu Myra Vishwakarma, a delight) failing to wake up her unconscious mother. What follows is a model of unpretentious inventiveness (see the shot from inside a revolving microwave!) as Pihu runs through a checklist of all the possible dangers in a home…

The River of Fables
(Kothanodi)
BHASKAR HAZARIKA, INDIA, 2015, 118 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
SUN OCT 9, 4:30 PM, SFU-GCA
TUE OCT 11, 9:30 PM, PLAYHOUSE
A teenage girl’s arranged marriage to a python is only the beginning of the spellbinding eeriness on offer in Bhaska Hazarika’s haunting directorial debut. Inspired by Assamese folklore, the film’s four uncanny parables about witchcraft and wickedness are rendered all the more otherworldly by the fact that they’re set in a modern milieu and staged in a style that borders on social realism. “Suspenseful, mysterious storytelling always one happy step into the realm of magic…”—Hollywood Reporter

The Trap
(Ottaal)
JAYARAJ RAJASEKHARAN NAIR, INDIA, 2015, 81 MIN.
North American Premiere
FRI SEP 30, 6:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
TUE OCT 4, 10:45 AM, INTL VILLAGE 9
Adapted from Chekhov’s Vanka, this is a realist heartbreaker: the story of an orphan boy (the adorable Ashanth K. Sha) living in rural poverty with his grandfather (Kumarakom Vasudevan). When the old man gets too sick to be a caregiver, he decides to send his young charge off to the city to be educated… Taking us to the centre of a cruel world, director Jayaraj Rajasekharan Nair shows a sure hand in both conveying the small-scale beauties of nature and creating compelling drama of the highest order.

Iranian Films | VIFF 2016

The Salesman
(Forushande)
ASGHAR FARHADI, IRAN/FRANCE, 2016, 125 MIN.
MON OCT 10, 9:15 PM, CENTRE FOR ARTS • WED OCT 12, 1:15 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
After scoring an Oscar for A Separation and making The Past in Paris, Asghar Farhadi returns to Tehran for this quietly gripping tale about Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti), a couple whose relationship comes unglued after Rana is assaulted. Emad is determined to find the culprit, but when he does, what will he do? And at what cost? “Another finely cut gem of neorealist suspense… Every shot is in place, every line leading to an outcome that feels quietly up for grabs…”—Variety

Best Script, Best Actor, Cannes

Inversion
(Varoonegi)
BEHNAM BEHZADI, IRAN, 2016, 84 MIN.
North American Premiere
SUN OCT 2, 9:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
TUE OCT 4, 4:45 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
A tribute to women’s courage, Behnam Behzadi’s film is set in a Tehran choking on smog. When her sick mother is ordered to leave for a cleaner environment, single businesswoman Niloofar (Sahar Dowlatshahi) is told by her family to drop everything. Her resistance makes for the stuff of riveting feminist drama. “Quietly dramatic… Dowlatshahi is a beautiful and dynamic actress with an open, laughing face and darkly expressive doe eyes that have a way of dominating every shot they’re in.”—Variety

Lantouri
REZA DORMISHIAN, IRAN, 2016, 115 MIN.
North American Premiere
TUE OCT 4, 9:00 PM, CENTRE FOR ARTS
TUE OCT 11, 12:30 PM, PLAYHOUSE
Not for the fainthearted, Reza Dormishian’s tour-de-force takes the “eye for an eye” justice permitted by Islamic law to its logical extreme. A Lantouri gang member (Navid Mohammadzadeh), obsessed with a crusading journalist (Maryam Palizban), deals with her rejection by throwing acid in her face… Covering many issues plaguing Tehran today, the film unspools “with near-cyclonic force… [This is an] ambitious examination of the churning frustrations of Iran’s disenfranchised younger generation…”—Variety

Radio Dreams
BABAK JALALI, IRAN/USA, 2016, 97 MIN.
MON OCT 10, 9:30 PM, PLAYHOUSE
THU OCT 13, 1:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
Iranian-born Babak Jalali’s witty and whip-smart take on immigration, assimilation and the frayed edges of the American Dream focuses on a day at a struggling Persian radio station in San Francisco. Starring folk musician Mohsen Namjoo (considered Iran’s Bob Dylan) as the station’s besieged manager, the film is “a culture-clash charmer [that contrasts] wavelengths of humour and seriousness… Warm-hearted but tough-edged… Radio Dreams is also wonderfully cast from top to bottom.”—Hollywood Reporter

Sonita
ROKHSAREH GHAEM MAGHAMI, IRAN/GERMANY/SWITZERLAND, 2015, 90 MIN.
SUN OCT 2, 6:00 PM, SFU-GCA
TUE OCT 4, 1:00 PM, PLAYHOUSE
An Afghan refugee in Iran, 14-year-old Sonita aspires to be a hip-hop superstar like Rihanna. But when circumstances conspire against her and she’s destined to be sold into marriage, our increasingly empowered heroine discovers her true voice as an activist. As Sonita confronts countless obstacles in a bid to escape her fate, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami fashions an essential documentary. “Sonita puts a defiant face and expressive voice to a resistance that needs to be as loud as possible.” —RogerEbert.com

Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, Sundance

Israelian Films | VIFF 2016

Beyond the Mountains and Hills
(Me’ever Laharim Vehagvaot)
ERAN KOLIRIN, ISRAEL/GERMANY, 2016, 90 MIN.
THU OCT 6, 10:45 AM, INTL VILLAGE 10
SUN OCT 9, 9:15 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
The Greenbaums—retired army vet David (Alon Pdut), his teacher wife Rina (Shiree Nadav-Naor), son Omri (Noam Imber) and politically active daughter Yifat (Mili Eshet)—seem a moderately happy bunch in Erin Kolirin’s (The Band’s Visit) smart, precisely composed drama. But when dad’s feelings of powerlessness lead him to blindly fire his gun into the night, the family’s unravelling begins… “An intriguing… drama that starts off lightly and moves into significantly darker territory…”—Hollywood Reporter

Junction 48
UDI ALONI, ISRAEL/GERMANY/USA, 2016, 97 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
SUN OCT 9, 9:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
TUE OCT 11, 11:30 AM, INTL VILLAGE 10
Activist Israeli director Undi Aloni sets his latest piece of agitprop to the compelling strains of hip-hop. With his back against the wall due to Israeli oppression and spiralling violence, up-and-coming Tel Aviv rapper Kareem (Tamer Nafar) finds empowerment through his music. The script by Nafar and Oscar-nominee Oren Moverman (The Messenger), proves every bit as complex as Kareem’s rhymes, drawing from the political and personal to paint an evocative picture of contemporary Palestinian existence.

Audience Award, Berlin

Between Fences
(Bein gderot)
AVI MOGRABI, ISRAEL/FRANCE, 2016, 84 MIN.
North American Premiere
FRI SEP 30, 1:00 PM, INTL VILLAGE 8
SUN OCT 2, 6:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
Documentarian Avi Mograbi (Z32) has frequently tweaked the nose of the Israeli establishment with his irreverent and iconoclastic style. His latest looks at the plight of African refugees, confined to an Israeli detention centre, who—despite being without rights or any foreseeable hope for change—find solace and even joy in the rehearsals for a theatre performance. As usual, the ironies run deep as Mograbi again makes plain the hypocrisies of his country’s political masters.

Playing with the short film Fantassút/Rain on the Borders by Federica Foglia.

Saudi Arabia | VIFF 2016
Barakah Meets Barakah
(Barakah yoqabil Barakah)
MAHMOUD SABBAGH, SAUDI ARABIA, 2016, 88 MIN.
THU SEP 29, 9:45 PM, CENTRE FOR ARTS
FRI OCT 7, 11:15 AM, INTL VILLAGE 10
MON OCT 10, 9:15 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
It seems that a meet-cute can happen anywhere, even on a Saudi Arabian pier between a civil servant (Hisham Fageeh) and a glamorous online star (Fatima Al Banawi). But what next for this unlikely could-be couple when the authorities won’t even permit an unchaperoned date? A crowd-pleaser akin to VIFF 13’s Wajda, Mahmoud Sabbagh’s candid romantic comedy looks at love in a time when traditions collide headlong with modernity. “[This] easygoing charmer conceals some sharp political barbs…”—Hollywood Reporter

South Africa | VIFF 2016
Shepherds and Butchers
OLIVER SCHMITZ, SOUTH AFRICA/USA/GERMANY, 2016, 107 MIN.
North American Premiere
SAT OCT 1, 1:30 PM, SFU-GCA
SUN OCT 9, 9:00 PM, PLAYHOUSE
In 1987, 164 people, most of them black, were legally put to death in South Africa. Oliver Schmitz’s (the groundbreaking Mapantsula) tense courtroom drama, set in ’87, stars Steve Coogan as a crusading lawyer whose anti-capital punishment position leads him to take on the seemingly open-and-shut case of a young man, traumatized by his job as a government-sanctioned executioner, facing the death penalty for gunning down seven unarmed men. “A rare, disorienting perspective on capital punishment…”—Variety

Tunisia Films | VIFF 2016

Hedi
(Inhebbek Hedi)
MOHAMED BEN ATTIA, TUNISIA/BELGIUM/FRANCE, 2016, 88 MIN.
North American Premiere
SUN OCT 2, 11:15 AM, SFU-GCA
SAT OCT 8, 6:00 PM, RIO
Produced by the Dardenne brothers and exhibiting their characteristic humane realism, Mohamed Ben Attia’s debut captures the Tunisian zeitgeist with compelling sensitivity. Hedi (Majd Mastoura, excellent) is a salesman sleepwalking through a life dominated by his mother when he meets the free-spirited Rim (Rym Ben Messaoud) and begins a torrid affair. “Quiet but pungent and featuring vibrant performances, [Hedi] offers further evidence that the rebirth of Tunisian cinema is underway…” —Hollywood Reporter

Best First Feature, Best Actor, Berlin

As I Open My Eyes
(À peine j’ouvre les yeux)
LEYLA BOUZID, TUNISIA/FRANCE/BELGIUM/UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, 2015, 102 MIN.
WED OCT 5, 10:45 AM, INTL VILLAGE 10
SAT OCT 8, 7:00 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
Tunis teen Farah (Baya Medhaffer) is caught between her middle-class mother’s conservative beliefs and her own desire to front a rock band in Leyla Bouzid’s intelligent and moving exploration of generational divisions and simmering conflict. “Bouzid’s impressive debut… [showcases] a stand-out lead performance by first-timer Baya Medhaffer… [The film] skillfully conjures the pressure-cooker atmosphere lying just below Tunisia’s surface during the waning days of the dictatorship in 2010.”—Variety

Turkey Films | VIFF 2016

Albüm
MEHMET CAN MERTOĞLU, TURKEY/ROMANIA/FRANCE, 2016, 104 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
TUE OCT 11, 9:30 PM, INTL VILLAGE 10
THU OCT 13, 4:00 PM, INTL VILLAGE 9
To avoid opprobrium in a country that still views infertility as some sort of moral defect, office worker Bahar (Şebnem Bozoklu) and her teacher husband Cüneyt (Murat Kiliç) go to outlandish lengths to hide the fact that they are adopting a child… With rare panache, Mehmet Can Mertoğlu’s mordant debut skewers some of his society’s more irrational attitudes. “[An] elegantly opaque social satire, which touches on bureaucratic ineptitude, class conflict and very questionable parenting…”—Variety

Best Feature Film, Sarajevo

Kedi
CEYDA TORUN, TURKEY/USA/GERMANY, 2015, 79 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
SAT OCT 1, 9:15 PM, CINEMATHEQUE
MON OCT 3, 11:00 AM, INTL VILLAGE 9
Why waste hours on YouTube cat videos when you can immerse yourself in this absorbing cat’s-eye view of the colours, textures and pace of modern Istanbul instead? Ceyda Torun’s delightful film uses specially crafted camera rigs to let us ride along with these nimble, adventurous felines. Given the hallowed status they enjoy in Turkish culture, they’re practically granted an all-access pass to every vista and alcove in this ancient Eurasian capital, making this a viewing experience unlike any other.
In Turkish with English subtitles

Information - VIFF Sep 29 - Oct 14, 2016 viff.org

The festival's programming will be featured in the following streams:

  • Panorama: Special PresentationsDocumentariesSpotlight on FranceContemporary World CinemaCinemas of India/Iran/Africa/Middle East – The world's boldest creators and their exceptional works. The year's most anticipated international films and new discoveries curated specifically for VIFF audiences.
  • Ignite – A showcase of the inspired works emerging from the creative nexus that is British Columbia.
  • True North – A celebration of the extraordinary creativity and craft being demonstrated by Canadian storytellers from coast to coast.
  • Impact – Uncompromising films and insightful discussions that spark action and change the way we see the world.
  • Next – Virtual reality, gaming, music and emerging digital platforms serve as a catalyst for ground-breaking ideas and unforgettable next-level experiences.
  • Gateway – Journey into the compelling cinematic worlds envisioned by some of East Asia's most adventurous artists.
  • M/A/D – Music, art and design receive their deserved big-screen treatment in this aesthetically alluring stream that's enhanced by exhibitions and live performances.
  • ALT – Fantastic cinema that defies traditional classification and creators who push short form storytelling to its limits.
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THU SEP 29
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