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Vancouver International Film Festival |
VIFF Adds Impact Films to 2017 Festival Line Up
Impact stream features documentaries that are powerful agents for change
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VANCOUVER, B.C. (August 17, 2017) – VIFF proudly announces Impact, a selection of uncompromising films that spark action and change in the way we see the world, complementing the Sea to Sky and the True North stream programming.

This year's selection of ten documentaries delve beyond the headlines to address the political, humanitarian and environmental challenges currently facing society. Human Flow, directed by renowned artist-activist Ai Weiwei, was filmed at 40 refugee camps, while BLUE takes viewers to the waters of Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific and Asia as it illustrates the declining health of our oceans. ACORN and the Firestorm traces the rise and fall of the progressive activist organization, while Evolution of Organic shares the history of the organic food movement. Also on offer are unique character studies of remarkable individuals such as Frank Serpico and Hondros. With the films in this programming stream, audiences can acquire new knowledge, experience different perspectives, and learn about the ingredients for change.

The festival's complement of "impactful" filmmaking isn't limited to a single programming stream. VIFF also announced the addition of Scott Harper's You're Soaking in It - an eye-opening look at data collection - to the True North lineup.

The Impact films announced today include:

ACORN and the Firestorm
dirs. Reuben Atlas, Sam Pollard, USA
A bastion of progressive activism for 40 years, ACORN was undermined by doctored video footage purporting to show its workers advising a pimp in 2009. A scandalous harbinger of America's current political crisis, the ACORN affair is recounted in Reuben Atlas and Sam Pollard's enthralling doc. Polarization, vicious media attacks and the rise of Breitbart: all the key elements of American political malaise are to be found in this tragedy which looks back on the Obama years with an eye towards the present.

dir. Karina Holden, Australia
Karina Holden's urgent documentary charts the drastic decline in the health of our oceans - more than half of all marine life has been lost due to plastic pollution, overfishing, habitat destruction and the expansion of industrialization - sets out the challenges we are facing, and illustrates the opportunities for positive change. Filmed on location in Australia, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Philippines and Indonesia, BLUE is a cogently argued, beautifully shot and truly inspired call to action.

Evolution of Organic
dir. Mark Kitchell, USA
"Organic" has become such a garden variety term that few us give much thought to how this movement might have originated. Consequently, Mark Kitchell's insightful documentary makes for engrossing viewing as it retraces the first steps of the motley, rebellious pioneers who thumbed their noses at chemical farming and set in motion a wave of change. Much more than just backstory, Evolution of Organic is essential viewing thanks to the glimpses it offers of the sustainable alternatives waiting on the horizon.

Frank Serpico
dir. Antonino D'Amrbosio, USA
Played by Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973), Frank Serpico was the counterculture hero of the NYPD for his unflinching stand against corruption. Antonino D'Ambrosio's rewarding portrait includes interviews with Serpico and his colleagues and supporters, including former US Attorney General Ramsay Clark, writer Luc Sante and actor John Turturro. Context is provided via clips from Lumet's film. "An enjoyable expansion on the fictional account, with a where-is-he-now bonus." - Hollywood Reporter

dir. Greg Campbell, USA
War photographer Chris Hondros was an award-winning legend by the time he was killed in Libya, at age 41, in 2011. Fellow journalist Greg Campbell - a friend who had also worked with Hondros - has fashioned a balanced, deeply researched, and profoundly affecting portrait that shows Hondros in all his humanity. "An eloquent tribute... The film succeeds partly because Hondros was such a gifted war photographer, and partly because of the thoughtful and loving portrait created by... Campbell." - Hollywood Reporter

Human Flow
dir. Ai Weiwei, Germany/USA
Directed by artist-activist Ai Weiwei and filmed in 40 refugee camps in 23 countries, this stunningly cinematic documentary, reminiscent of the work of Edward Burtynsky, chronicles the staggering breadth of the global refugee crisis with uncommon insight. Ai's camera captures the condition of today's more-than-65-million displaced individuals. "The film is made with deep beliefs in the value of human rights. In this time of uncertainty, we need more tolerance, compassion and trust..." - Ai Weiwei

Keep Talking
dir. Karen Lynn Weinberg, USA
Filmed in and around Kodiak, Alaska, this is a beautifully crafted film about resilience, empowerment and community told through the stories of four young women who are fighting to revitalize the Kodiak Alutiiq language. Interweaving personal narratives, local history, interviews with academics and elders, animated Alutiiq legends and footage of various initiatives to teach the language to Alutiiq youth, Karen Lynn Weinberg's documentary is a celebration of the power of language and culture.

The Trial: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov
dir. Askold Kurov, Estonia/Poland/Czech Republic
Currently serving a 20-year sentence as an alleged terrorist, filmmaker Oleg Sentsov was a vocal opponent of Russia's invasion of the Crimea before being taken by the FSB, tortured, tried and sentenced. Askold Kurov examines the case - using evidence available to anyone - and puts the lie to the government's position, fashioning a frightening study in corruption along the way. "A scrappy testament to the true nature of the Vladimir Putin regime [that] leaves you with a shuddering chill." - Variety

The Venerable W
dir. Barbet Schroeder, France/Switzerland
With Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk, unrepentant Islamophobe and avowed Trump admirer, serving as our guide, Barbet Schroeder's riveting documentary embeds us in a Myanmar where violence - and even ethnic "purifying" - is being fuelled by incendiary religious rhetoric. Supplementing interviews with on-the-ground amateur footage, the veteran filmmaker invites us to stare into the face of intolerance and leaves us questioning whether any of us have the luxury of turning a blind eye to such heinous conduct.

Yangtze Landscape
dir. Xu Xin, China
From the lights of Shanghai's Bund to its source on the Tibetan plateau, Xu Xin's beautiful black-and-white documentary follows the entire length of the Yangtze River, providing a panorama of China's land and people. One of China's preeminent independent filmmakers has crafted an epic, moving, provocative portrait of China today. We see, amidst China's progress, those left behind in the margins, scrambling for life and livelihood. Epic and intimate: an ode to the Yangtze and a lament for its inhabitants.

True North Stream Addition
You're Soaking in It
dir. Scott Harper, Canada
Advertising is no longer the arcane territory of a few well-lubricated characters. The creative leaps of Mad Men have been replaced by precise, targeted surveillance rooted in complicated computer modelling. The data collected is often very personal information, and it is used to design advertising that influences you at the precise moment you are most ready to spend. Scott Harper documents this chilling shift and introduces us to corporate execs who proudly let us know how much they know about us.

Weekly announcements of confirmed titles and programmed events continue next week.

Tickets start at $15. Passes and ticket packs are available online on August 28th, with single tickets available online September 7th and in-person at the Vancity Theatre Box Office starting September 14th. All tickets will be available for purchase at

Passes for Totally Indie Day are available for morning and afternoon sessions. Full day passes are also available, and include entrance to the after party. More information will be available at on September 8th.

VIFF would like to thank Premier Partner Telus, Premier Supporters Telefilm Canada and Creative BC as well as our other generous partners, sponsors and suppliers.

Each year VIFF relies on the hard work of more than 1,000 volunteers to assist in running the festival. Volunteer registration is now open at

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) and the year-round programming of the Vancity Theatre at the Vancouver International Film Centre. VIFF produces screenings, talks and events that act as a catalyst for a diverse community to discover, discuss and share the creativity and craft of storytelling on screen. In its 36th year, the Vancouver International Film Festival welcomes the world to Vancouver from September 28-October 13, 2017 as it showcases the top international, Canadian and BC films and plays host to industry professionals from around the globe.

  • Media accreditation to attend VIFF 2017 is now open. Apply until September 11th here.
  • Films, talks and events programming will continue to be announced weekly throughout August and September. A press conference will be held on September 6th at the Vancouver International Film Centre (1181 Seymour St) with final festival announcements including the Closing night film.
  • To stay up to date with year-round Film Centre programming, request to be added to our media distribution list.
  • For more information on VIFF, to obtain media assets, or to request an interview, please contact or call 778-328-7813
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For more information, please contact
Darren Johnson
Communications Manager
Vancouver International Film Festival

Greater Vancouver International Film Society