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Vancouver International Film Festival 2017 | Sep 28 - Oct 13 | viff.org
Sponsors
Gateway — Exploring East Asia
Special Presentation
By Region: China, Hong Kong & Macau TaiwanJapanSouth Korea
Indonesia, Philippines, SingaporeBurma, Bhutan, Cambodia, ThailandVIFF News

VIFF is proud to present this showcase of films from East Asia. The Dragons & Tigers film series is the largest annual exhibition of East Asian films outside the region, and is internationally recognized as one of the most significant in the world. Many of the most acclaimed directors working today have had international or Western premieres in Dragons & Tigers, and this year its programmers continue their mission of introducing bold, creative and unique work to audiences. The program has now been expanded to include visions of the region from around the world; what remains the same is VIFF's commitment to East Asian film culture and the best that it offers.

Very grateful acknowledgement to our long time—and now retired—Dragons and Tigers programmer, Mr. Tony Rayns.

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

Okja
BONG JOON HO, SOUTH KOREA/USA, 2017, 121 MIN.
Special Presentation
A Special Presentation screening of Okja as part of a celebration of the filmmaking achievements of director/co-writer, Bong Joon Ho. Included in the event is a presentation honoring Director Bong as a VIFF Visionary and an extended, 'In Conversation' session presented by IATSE LOCAL 891, with Bong Joon Ho, a VIFF alumnus, and Oscar award-winning VFX supervisor Erik-Jan de Boer of Method Studios.

This special opportunity to see Director Bong in conversation alongside a big screen presentation of his beloved Okja is not to be missed.

The Hidden Sword
The Hidden Sword
(Daobei cangshen)
XU HAOFENG, CHINA, 2017, 136 MIN.
SPECIAL PRESENTATION
In 1933, Chinese soldiers led by Shen Feixue defeat a Japanese attack on the Great Wall using only swords. But Shen disappears, and an imposter takes his place. Allied with the glamorous and lethal beauty Zhihui, they try to steal Master Kong’s ultimate sword techniques. But heroic young Kong Dingyi stands in their way. China’s new master of elegant chivalric swordplay, Xu Haofeng, spices brilliantly choreographed action with sparkling eroticism in this dazzling, star-studded, comic-action masterpiece.

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

Dragonfly Eyes
(Qingting zhi yan)
XU BING, CHINA, 2017, 81 MIN.
One of China’s greatest contemporary artists, Xu Bing, has made an extraordinary experimental-narrative first film. With nothing but clips of publicly available surveillance and dash-cam footage, he constructs the love story of Qing Ting and Ke Fan. She has left a monastery for a dairy farm; they end up on the run; she disappears and he believes she’s turned into the internet celebrity Xiao Xiao. What if our lives are so thoroughly surveilled that we are made of nothing but our captured images?

The Foolish Bird
(Ben niao)
HUANG JI, RYUJI OTSUKA, CHINA, 2017, 118 MIN.
North American Premiere
Lynn is a typical 16-year-old high school student from rural Hunan, China. Left behind by her absent working parents, she and her friend May take to stealing her classmates’ cellphones for cash. As Lynn and May loiter in Internet cafes, they learn of a shocking murder-rape at their school. Co-directors Huang Ji and Ryuji Otsuka’s dark coming-of-age story daringly explores a teenage girl’s growing maturity as she is forced to confront sexuality, violence, and the stirrings of desire.

Have a Nice Day
(Hao ji le)
LIU JIAN, CHINA, 2017, 77 MIN.
There’s a suitcase of cash on the loose and a rich menagerie of underworld characters are hustling to snag it. Liu Jian’s darkly comic animated feature follows a Tarantino-esque procession of articulate lowlifes (a hitman, a driver, two slackers, a gangster boss, a weird inventor) as they tell brilliant, piquant, entirely subversive stories about a corrupt urban environment that seems to resemble a large Chinese city. Liu’s old school animation and beautifully drawn atmospheric backgrounds are spellbinding.

I've Got the Blues
I've Got the Blues
(Shuidi xingzou de ren)
ANGIE CHEN, HONG KONG, 2017, 90 MIN.
World Premiere
One of the most original and fascinating documentaries to come out of Hong Kong, Angie Chen’s portrait of preeminent abstract painter, blues musician, activist and art director Yank Wong is a Hong Kong rhapsody. We move from Hong Kong to Macao to Paris tracing his art, his loves, his complex family, his feelings about creating at home and creating a home. Remarkably, old friends Chen and Wong go at each other in powerful scenes that question the possibility of even making a documentary this truthful.

King of Peking
(Jing cheng zhi wang)
SAM VOUTAS, CHINA/AUSTRALIA/USA, 2017, 88 MIN.
At the height of the DVD boom, a Beijing projectionist holes up in a theatre basement and bonds with his young son by bootlegging and redubbing blockbusters. But the black market is rife with pitfalls for such misguided pirates, ensuring that this open-hearted love letter to cinema elevates its stakes (and charm) with each subsequent scene. Sam Voutas’ wry, nostalgic comedy-drama “highlights the exhilarating, protective and terrifying lengths parents will go for their children.”—Rolling Stone

The Last Roar of a Mother Bear
The Last Roar of a Mother Bear
(Xiong mama zuihou de baoxiao)
DOUG CHAN, MACAO, 2017, 80 MIN.
International Premiere
One of the strangest blackly comic murder-mystery art-horror-thrillers of the year! In 1990, an obsessive Macanese cop (director Doug Chan) unravels two murders that transpire in an atmospherically decaying Macao. A mother protects her daughter from a kidnapper who kills cops while abducting children. Eleven years later, the daughter, now a bride, is mysteriously murdered. Chan weaves images of mad memories and past and future traumas in this absurdist Dada-like collage of violence and obsession.

Paradox
WILSON YIP, HONG KONG, 2017, 100 MIN.
North American Premiere
Ace director Wilson Yip, dashing leading man Louis Koo and one of cinema’s greatest action choreographers Sammo Hung team up for this gritty crime thriller. Koo plays a detective who travels to Thailand in search of his missing daughter; there he finds corruption, sleaze and plenty of danger. In the best tradition of Hong Kong action cinema, the film offers colourful characters and good storytelling in addition to the mayhem. Thai martial artist Tony Jaa features in a small but memorable role.
In Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

A Fish Out of Water
A Fish Out of Water
(Shang’an de yu)
LAI KUO-AN, TAIWAN, 2017, 95 MIN.
Yi-an is a young Taiwanese boy who perplexes his parents: he speaks in a slightly creepy monotone, and imagines that he grew up by the seaside with a previous mother and father. Is he disturbed? Clairvoyant? Gifted? Haunted? This soft-voiced, immaculately shot and ultimately deeply moving family story keeps all options open. Mixing sadness, compassion and mystery, Lai portrays a family at the breaking point, struggling to grasp a happiness that may be just out of reach.

The Great Buddha+
The Great Buddha+
(Dafo pulasi)
HUANG HSIN-YAO, TAIWAN, 2017, 104 MIN.
Pickle works as a night guard in a foundry, where a giant bronze statue of Buddha is under construction. Belly Button collects scrap by day, and hangs out with Pickle at night. When they discover their well-connected, overly amorous boss keeps dash-cam recordings of his nocturnal prowlings, they become obsessed with his lurid private secrets. Huang Hsin-yao uses the darkest black humour to probe the moral underbellies of Taiwan’s upper and lower classes to hilarious and devastating effect.

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

A Beautiful Star
A Beautiful Star
(Utsukushii Hoshi)
YOSHIDA DAIHACHI, JAPAN, 2017, 127 MIN.
North American Premiere
Thrilling and hilarious, this is the story of a family that comes to believe they come from other planets and are here to serve alien agendas. Number one among the crazies is patriarch Juichiro (Lily Franky); he’s the first to claim alien heritage, and he becomes convinced he has to save Earth from destruction. This is a comedy of sorts; you could also call it science fiction. But ultimately it’s so unique it almost resists comparison. It’s a triumph of creativity, and a delight from start to finish.

Close-Knit
(Karera Ga Honki De Amu Toki Wa)
NAOKO OGIGAMI, JAPAN, 2017, 127 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
Abandoned by her mom, ’tween Tomo (Rinka Kakihara) needs a new place to live. Uncle Makio (Kenta Kiritani) is glad to take her in, but offers a gentle warning: his live-in partner is a bit “unusual.” She’s played by Ikuta Toma, one of Japan’s hottest young stars, and he steals the show with his note-perfect turn. That’s right: girlfriend Rinko is a trans woman—a surprise to Tomo and the source of her awakening in Naoko Ogigami’s drama. “Gentle, sweet-souled… a nuanced, softly lit family portrait.”—Variety

The Departure
LANA WILSON, USA/JAPAN, 2017, 88 MIN.
Ittetsu Nemoto is not your typical Buddhist priest. A former punk rocker who used to work at a Tokyo McDonald’s, he loves Prince, his motorcycle and dancing in clubs. He also has become famous in Japan for his extraordinary success in inspiring suicidal men and women to keep on living. But when a health crisis puts Nemoto at serious risk, can he live by the same advice he gives out? Lana Wilson’s extraordinary portrait is “immensely moving… often lyrical and deeply meditative.”—IndieWire


Gukoroku - Traces of Sin
(Gukoroku)
ISHIKAWA KEI, JAPAN, 2016, 120 MIN.
Haunting as it is, this is still terrific entertainment—a compelling mystery story, expertly told. Tanaka (Tsumabuki Satoshi of The Vancovuer Asahi, VIFF 14) is a reporter probing the murder of a businessman and his family; as he digs closer to the truth, the distinction between perpetrator and victim gets murky. The film has a core of rage, but everything—including murder—is portrayed in hushed, funereal tones. Morbid, seductive and, in the end, very moving, this is genre filmmaking on a high level.

Sweating the Small Stuff
(Edaha no koto)
NINOMIYA RYUTARO, JAPAN, 2017, 114 MIN.
North American Premiere
Largely content to trudge through the paces of his boozy, bare-knuckled life—piss-ups, hook-ups and punch-ups are the staples of his weekends—Ryutaro deviates from his debauched routine and willful stagnation to pay a visit to a friend’s terminally ill mother; the reasons he’s avoided this seemingly innocuous encounter for so long are slowly revealed. Director/star Ninomiya Ryutaro draws from true events and real people in his life to guide us through an investigation of Japan’s societal maladies.

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

Anarchist from the Colony
Anarchist from the Colony
(Park Yeol)
LEE JOONIK, SOUTH KOREA/JAPAN, 2017, 129 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
In the wake of a 1923 massacre—and subsequent disinformation campaign—perpetrated by occupying Japanese forces, Korean anarchist/activist Park Yeol (Lee Jehoon, radiating charismatic impudence) and his compatriots scheme to assassinate Crown Prince Hirohito. Taking cues from its anti-authoritarian anti-hero, director Lee Joonik thumbs his nose at stodgy period drama trappings, instead delivering an explosive call to arms that strikes a chord in this current era in which tyrants threaten to run amok.

Becoming Who I Was
(Werden wer ich war)
MOON CHANGYONG, JEON JIN, SOUTH KOREA, 2017, 95 MIN.
This doc chronicles the early life of Angdu, named as the reincarnation of a prominent Buddhist monk. Precocious, but full of the unruly spirits that mark childhood, the boy is mentored by the elderly Urgyan. It’s a tender, loving relationship, wonderful to behold. Eventually the film focuses on Angdu’s trek from his home in northern India to Tibet, as he seeks to fulfill his destiny. “Bright, brisk and harmonious… A charmingly intimate portrait that ultimately assumes epic-journey proportions.”—Variety

Claire's Camera
(La caméra de Claire)
HONG SANGSOO, SOUTH KOREA, 2017, 69 MIN.
A master of droll comedy and tricky plotting, VIFF favourite Hong Sangsoo scored at this year’s Cannes with a film about the revered festival itself. Isabelle Huppert, the reigning queen of French actresses, plays the title role. Attending Cannes for the premiere of a friend’s film, Claire meets Manhee (Kim Minhee of last year’s hit The Handmaiden). Bonding, booze and some great laughs ensue. “Easy on the eye and strewn with humorous gems… A short and sweet divertissement.”—Hollywood Reporter


The First Lap
(Cho-haeng)
KIM DAEHWAN, SOUTH KOREA, 2017, 101 MIN.
North American Premiere
Staring down the prospect of unplanned parenthood, a couple visits each of their families—hers affluent and judgmental, his working-class and estranged. Their arduous cross-country trek provides them with ample opportunity to confront where their lives might be headed. No wonder they almost seem to be actively avoiding their destination… Buoyed by its humour, observations and relatability, Kim Daehwan’s film “is tiny and sharply focused, yet its effect is of a spreading, enlarging warmth…"—Variety

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten
PETERSEN VARGAS, PHILIPPINES, 2016, 96 MIN.
North American Premiere
Smart, funny and very moving, Petersen Vargas’ queer coming-of-age drama ranks with the best of its kind. Teenaged closet case Felix (Khalil Ramos) is resigned to going it alone in life, but then happens upon Magnus (Ethan Salvador), a wispy dreamboat with feline features and a devil-may-care expression. Felix thanks his lucky stars when Magnus and his brother Maxim (Jameson Blake) bring him into their lives. There’s a dark side to these brothers though, and turmoil, tears and violence are soon to come…

In Time to Come
TAN PIN PIN, SINGAPORE, 2017, 62 MIN.
A time capsule is unearthed; a “time cube” is set up. “What’s worth preserving from Singapore today?” asks Tan Pin Pin’s elegant, incisive experimental documentary. Is it the discipline imposed on public school children? The sterile malls and expressways of which the city-state is so proud? As trees are violently cut down and carted away to an uncertain future, Tan questions, “What’s the price of this perfectly pruned order?” Sometimes the quietest voice of protest carries the greatest weight.


Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts
(Marlina si Pembunuh dalam Empat Babak)
MOULY SURYA, INDONESIA/FRANCE/MALAYSIA/THAILAND,
2017, 93 MIN.
Marlina (Marsha Timothy), a recently bereaved widow, is set upon by a group of men with rape on their minds—but she sure knows how to fight back. This film has been likened to a Western, and in its portrayal of a trek across the land to seek justice it does recall some classics of the genre. But ultimately it stands on its own, a proudly feminist work and a slam-bang revenge drama. “Kicks ass… At once an enjoyable genre ride and a feminist art-house story.”—Hollywood Reporter

Motherland
(Bayan Ina Mo)
RAMONA S. DIAZ, PHILIPPINES/USA, 2017, 94 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
At once immersive and illuminating, Ramona S. Diaz’s vérité-style documentary plunges us into the workings of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, one of the Philippines’ busiest maternity wards. The film keenly balances intimate human detail with sweeping Wiseman-like institutional (and cultural) documentation. It’s a compelling, detailed cinematic portrait that’s sobering without ever once feeling grim—a perfect balance for a documentary so steeped in a sense of place. “Lively and engaging…”—Variety

Gateway Stream Films | VIFF 2017

Angkor Awakens: A Portrait of Cambodia
ROBERT H. LIEBERMAN, CAMBODIA/US, 2017, 90 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
Zeroing in on the devastating legacy of the Khmer Rouge’s genocidal four-year regime, this is a kaleidoscopic portrait of Cambodia’s brutal past and tenuous future. Balancing historical context with disarming intimacy and continuing the legacy of The Killing Fields, it employs commendable directness to bring the human scale of the nation’s tragedy into sharp relief. As an analytical narrative of tragedy, testimony and a way ahead, [Robert H. Lieberman’s documentary] has an undeniable power.”—L.A. Times

Bad Genius
NATTAWUT POONPIRIYA, THAILAND, 2017, 130 MIN.
(Chalard Games Goeng)
In Nattawut Poonpiriya’s high-school thriller, kids memorize codes, hijack printing presses and recruit a squad of motorbike couriers—all in order to cheat on their exams. Plotted and paced like a heist film, this also delivers scathing commentary on class and corruption. Should we really be rooting for these kids? However you ultimately answer that, there’s no question that this is a gripping film and a razor-sharp satire. “Ceaselessly entertaining… a relentless, high-octane caper.”—Hollywood Reporter



Burma Storybook
PETR LOM, NETHERLANDS/CZECH REPUBLIC, 2017, 82 MIN.
North American Premiere
Recently freed from a half-century of military dictatorship and violence, Myanmar is in transition. Petr Lom’s patient, beautiful documentary explores the country’s past and present through the eyes of Maung Aung Pwint, its most celebrated dissident poet and a man whose activism led to decades of imprisonment. Lom’s lens captures scenes of festivities and modernity interspersed with more reflective moments of spiritual devotion, ultimately painting a portrait of a society tentatively reinventing itself.

Honeygiver Among the Dogs
DECHEN RODER, BHUTAN, 2016, 132 MIN.
North American Premiere
When a woman goes missing from a small village, cop Kinley (Jamyang Jamtsho Wangchuk) is put on the case, and his number one suspect is sexy dame Choden (Sonam Tashi Choden). Yes, this is film noir territory, but we’re far from the usual hardboiled milieu: the country is Bhutan, the missing woman is a Buddhist abbess and the femme fatale has some very special powers. Sexy, spiritual and beguiling, this film is subtle enough to have you parsing its mysteries long after the case has been solved.

Other East Asia related-films announced earlier can be found in the Impact stream.

Information - VIFF 2017viff.org

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

  • PanoramaFrom France to FinlandEastern Europe, India, Middle East and Africa Latin America, UK & USA Documentaries Galas and Special Presentations – The world's boldest creators and their exceptional works. The year's most anticipated international films and new discoveries curated specifically for VIFF audiences.
  • Sea to Sky – 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 – Interactive screen-based experiences, talks and sessions with creative leaders designed to educate and inspire public and professional attendees alike.
  • 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 – Genre-bending features that defy traditional classification and creators who push short form storytelling to its limits.

Important Dates
MON AUG 28
ONLINE: Advance VIFF Pass + Packs on sale now at viff.org

THU SEP 7 - Full Program available online.
ONLINE: VIFF Single Tickets on sale at viff.org

THU SEP 14
IN-PERSON: Box Office opens at The Vancouver International Film Centre. 1181 Seymour Street, at Davie. (Mon-Sat: Noon - 7pm, Sun: 2pm - 7pm)

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VIFF
Vancouver International Film Festival
September 28 - October 13, 2017

Discover more viff.org

Greater Vancouver International Film Society
1181 Seymour Street Vancouver BC Canada V6B 3M7
Box Office Helpline: 604.683.3456
Film selections are subject to change.


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