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Vancouver International Film Festival 2017 | Sep 28 - Oct 13 | viff.orgSponsors
Take the Journey:
Gateway Stream Offers the Best in East Asian Film
Gateway Films:
Special Presentation
By Region: China / Hong Kong TaiwanJapanSouth Korea
Dragons & Tigers
VIFF News

Over the years, VIFF has been proud to convey the richness and diversity of East Asian cinema to its audience. Many of the region’s greatest filmmakers have made Vancouver their first stop in the West. This year the festival continues this tradition; viewers will get to experience the work of established masters as well as those who may soon be recognized alongside them.

In Gateway’s Dragons & Tigers section, VIFF gives new directors an audience for their first or second films; these filmmakers are part of cinema’s future as well as its present. The rest of the stream features names that may be more familiar to festival audiences. Some viewers may have even been watching them from the beginning of their careers—when they debuted right here in Vancouver.

Special Presentation

Shoplifters
(Manbiki Kazoku)
KORE-EDA HIROKAZU, JAPAN, 2018, 121 MIN.
VIFF favourite Kore-eda is back with the top prize-winner from Cannes 2018. Shoplifters is a bittersweet story of love and crime, tear-jerking and provocative in equal measure. Where would little Yuri (Sasaka Miyu) be better off: her family home, where she’s abused, or with a ragtag family of petty criminals? That family, headed by Osamu (Lily Franky) and his wife Nobuyo (Ando Sakura), seems like the better choice, but that’s not the end of the story… "A rich, satisfying film."—Guardian

Gateway Stream Films

Ash Is Purest White
(Jiang Hu Er Nü)
JIA ZHANG KE, CHINA/FRANCE, 2018, 136 MIN.
Thought to be the greatest working filmmaker—not just in China but, by some, in the world— Jia Zhangke has been making masterpieces for at least two decades, and here he gives us another one. It begins in 2001. Once again, the heroine is played by the beautiful Zhao Tao; her boyfriend is gangster Bin Bin (Liao Fan), for whom she winds up going to prison. Upon her release, she goes looking for him, and what follows is a journey of discovery and disillusionment that takes us up to the present day…


An Elephant Sitting Still
(Daxiang xi di er zuo)
HU BO, CHINA, 2018, 230 MIN.
This epic, heart-rending, beautiful first film by the young Chinese director Hu Bo would have heralded a filmmaker of great promise if he hadn’t committed suicide while fighting to finish it. Four main characters—a young, charismatic hoodlum (Zhang Yu); two students, each trapped in scandal (Peng Yuchang, Wang Yuwen); and a retiree pushed out of his home (Liu Congxi)—fight despair while dreaming of a possibly unattainable future. A snapshot of contemporary China’s ethos, and a masterwork of cinema.

Long Day's Journey Into Night
(Di qiu zui hou de ye wan)
BI GAN, CHINA, 2018, 133 MIN.
Hailed as the most beautiful film in Cannes this year, Bi Gan’s rhapsodic cinematic poem is constructed as a noir romance: Luo Hongwu (Huang Jue) finds a mysterious woman named Wan Qiwen (Tang Wei), loses her, and sets off on a quest to find her again. Amidst Bi’s luscious set design—his corroded purple-red walls bloom with a decay you can almost smell—Luo follows a hallucinatory logic to its bravado conclusion: one of the longest, most thrilling tracking shots in cinema history.

Lush Reeds
Lush Reeds
(Zhi zi yu gui)
YANG YISHU, CHINA, 2018, 105 MIN.
World Premiere
A female reporter (Huang Lu) ventures into hostile territory in Yang Yishu’s sharp, cerebral thriller about power and repression in China. Xiayin tries to investigate injustices near her Yangtze River home of Nanjing, but her cautious editor shuts her down. Frozen out of her lifeless marriage, she embarks on a perilous trip to the countryside to report on a case of industrial poisoning. Yang’s low-key, reflective approach unfolds dreamlike mysteries with a gentle beauty.

Jinpa
(Zhuang Si Le Yi Zhi Yang)
PEMA TSEDEN, CHINA, 2018, 86 MIN.
In this gripping, fantastical and sometimes humorous Tibetan Western, two (?) killers meet in a truck on a desolate highway. Both are named Jinpa (actors Jinpa and Genden Phuntsok); one has run over a sheep, and the other must kill a man who he says is the murderer of his father. Master filmmaker Pema Tseden has created a spectacularly photographed tale of sensuality, unbridled masculinity, revenge, devotion and—possibly—redemption. Be prepared to be astonished.

Ala Changso
Ala Changso
SONTHAR GYAL, CHINA, 2018, 115 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
When young Tibetan farmer Drolma (Nyima Sungsung) learns she’s seriously ill, she decides to go on a pilgrimage to Lhasa—a grueling, year-long walk along mountain roads, with her prostrating herself every three steps. Her gruff, loving husband Dorje (Yungdrung Gyal) and uncommunicative son Norbu (Sechok Gyal) join her midway. Family sadness and unexpected intimacies emerge throughout this beautiful, deceptively simple road movie, transforming it into a delicate psychological and spiritual journey.

Wangdrak's Rain Boots
Wangdrak's Rain Boots
(Wangzha de yuxie)
LHAPAL GYAL, CHINA, 2018, 90 MIN.
North American Premiere
The one thing primary school student Wangdrak (Druklha Dorje) wants in life is a pair of rain boots, just like his classmates have. But his father (Jinpa), an impoverished Tibetan barley farmer, can’t afford them. In Lhapal Gyal’s gentle, beautiful first feature (produced by Pema Tseden), a child’s dreams and his steadfast determination prepare him to confront life on his own terms, against a background of modernizing rural Tibetan society. Suitable for children and equally enchanting for grown-ups.

No. 1 Chung Ying Street
(Zhong Ying Jie yihao)
DEREK CHIU, HONG KONG, 2018, 117 MIN.
North American Premiere
Hong Kong’s past history and future prospects have never seemed more contested than today. Derek Chiu’s courageous melodrama confronts this head-on by contrasting two thrilling stories set along the China-HK border: one about two student activists (Fish Liew, Yao Hawk-sau) and the leftist anti-colonial riots of 1967; the other about the tense near-future of post-Umbrella Movement activism. Depicted in vivid black and white, Chiu’s young protagonists fight for their passions, principles and dreams.

People's Republic of Desire
HAO WU, USA/CHINA, 2018, 95 MIN.
Riveting and disturbing in equal measure, Hao Wu’s documentary depicts an online world gone crazy. YY is a Chinese live-streaming site where people become internet superstars for their meagre performative acts. Their fans, who are looking for virtual relationships, leave them tips, which can generate serious money… “Tragic and terrifying in equal measure… Wu’s fascinating, deeply alarming film ushers us into a bold new world where our pleasure is simulated, but our pain is real.”—IndieWire


Gateway Stream Films

A Family Tour
(Ziyou xing)
YING LIANG, TAIWAN/HONG KONG/SINGAPORE/MALAYSIA, 2018, 107 MIN.
North American Premiere
Exiled Chinese filmmaker Yang Shu (Gong Zhe), mired in Hong Kong, yearns to see her mother Chen Xiaolin (Nai An), who lives in China. They can only meet in Taiwan using a scheme to send Chen there with a mainland Chinese tour group. As Yang, along with her husband and son, shadows the tour, the family’s emotional reunion and uncertain future generate a poignant tension. Ying Liang has based this story on his own life, which he transforms, with quiet intensity, into a beautiful political drama.

Father to Son
(Van Pao-te)
HSIAO YA-CHUAN, TAIWAN, 2018, 115 MIN.
North American Premiere
This beguiling movie charts two journeys—one of them from Taiwan, the other to it. Van Pao-te (Michael Jq Huang), gravely ill at the age of 60, travels from his home country to Japan in the company of his son (Fu Meng-Po). In the second journey, a young man (Aria Wang) somehow connected to Van travels from Hong Kong to Taiwan. As the title suggests, father-son relationships are at the centre of the film, but director Hsiao Ya-Chuan widens out from that subject to take on history, memory and more.

14 Apples
(Shisi ke pingguo)
MIDI Z, TAIWAN/MYANMAR, 2018, 84 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
Wang Shin-hong is Taiwanese-Burmese director Midi Z’s main fiction-film actor, and he suffers from insomnia. A fortune teller offers a cure: enter a monastery for 14 days and eat an apple each day. So Wang goes to a tiny rural Burmese monastery, and Midi Z follows with his camera. The result is a delightful, gently paced account of a temporary monk who accepts villagers’ devotion while dispensing moral advice. As documentary mutates into fable, Midi observes Wang’s world with patient respect and humour.

Gateway Stream Films

Mirai
(Mirai no Mirai)
MAMORU HOSODA, JAPAN, 2018, 98 MIN.
Mamoru Hosoda’s anime tells the story of Kun (voiced by Moka Kamishiraishi), a little boy who lives a happy life until the arrival of a new sister throws everything off kilter. What follows is a retreat into a fantasy world, populated by some interesting characters: a prince (Mitsuo Yoshihara), Mirai’s deceased grandpa (Koji Yakusho) and even a future version of himself (Haru Kuroki). It’s a child’s adventure of the mind, portrayed with the superb animation we’ve long come to expect from Japan.

Asako I & II
(Netemo Sametemo)
HAMAGUCHI RYUSUKE, JAPAN, 2018, 120 MIN.
Hamaguchi Ryusuke’s film takes a staple of romance stories and makes it literal: here, the sexy, wild man and the handsome, stable one are actual doubles. Asako (Karata Erika) gets with the first of them (both played by Masahiro Higashide) in a hot, fast encounter, and winds up falling hard for him, but one day he disappears. Years later, she meets his double, and they wind up in a solid relationship. Asako has found happiness… or has she? "[S]weet, soulful and achingly sad."—Sight and Sound

It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up
It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up
(Koko wa Taikutsu Mukae ni Kite)
HIROKI RYUICHI, JAPAN, 97 MIN.
World Premiere
Passing through the hometown she was dying to leave 10 years ago, “I” (Hashimoto Ai) tries to look up high school crush Shiina (Ryo Narita), the town’s golden boy. Meanwhile, “Me” (Mugi Kadowaki), who once dated Shiina, still wallows in nostalgia and regret. So what ever happened to him? Far from making your typical slushy Japanese teen drama, Hiroki Ryuichi (Vibrator, Kabukicho Love Hotel) juggles three romantic strands with his usual flair, pulling everything together in a revelatory ending.

Mori, The Artist's Habitat
Mori, The Artist's Habitat
(Mori no Iru Basho)
SHUICHI OKITA, JAPAN, 2018, 99 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
For 30 years, painter Kumagai Morikazu (1880-1977) never left home, preferring his garden, whose ecosytem provided infinite inspiration. Imagining one day in the life of the artist at 94, this movie is far from idle or monotonous. An eccentric duo, Mori and his wife (screen legends Yamazaki Tsutomu of Tampopo and Kiki Kirin of An) busily ward off hangers-on, a medal from the Emperor, even an alien. Shuichi Okita is Japan’s wittiest director, and this minimalist comedy is enchantingly Zen.

The Scythian Lamb
(Hitsuji no ki)
YOSHIDA DAIHACHI , JAPAN, 2018, 126 MIN.
To repopulate a seaside town, six ex-convicts are released into it, unbeknownst to the locals. Genteel civil servant Tsukisue (Nishikido Ryō) strives to rehabilitate them, until charismatic Miyakoshi (Matsuda Ryuhei) seduces his dream girl. As violent pasts emerge, the curse of Nororo, the town’s Kraken-like mythic god, reawakens. Yoshida Daihachi, who made the VIFF 17 hit A Beautiful Star, slides from wry satire of Japanese country life to a frightening pagan realm of evil, chaos and retribution.


Gateway Stream Films

Burning
(Beoning)
LEE CHANG-DONG, SOUTH KOREA, 2018, 148 MIN.
Riffing nimbly on a Murakami Haruki short story, Lee Changdong’s masterful thriller flickers with mystery. Jongsoo (Yoo Ahin, Veteran) reunites with classmate Haemi (Jeon Jongseo), who seduces him and scoots off to Africa. She returns with suave, moneyed Ben (Okja’s Steve Yeun), who makes Jongsoo roil with envy and self-pity; a creepy confession plunges him into tormenting despair. The critics’ favorite at Cannes, Burning imbues South Korea’s simmering social unrest with universal resonance.

Grass
(Pul-lip-deul)
HONG SANGSOO, SOUTH KOREA, 2018, 66 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
Hong Sangsoo adds another unassuming, poetic film to his oeuvre, which is now considered one of the greatest in contemporary cinema. Kim Minhee plays Areum, an observer of social folly much like the director himself. She sits in a coffee shop with her laptop, all the while writing down the interactions of its patrons. Questions emerge about the context, chronology and even veracity of the various conversations… Playful, mysterious and profound, this is typical Hong—in other words, a masterpiece.

Dragons and Tigers

Girls Always Happy
(Rou qing shi)
YANG MINGMING, CHINA, 2018, 117 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
In an ancient lane in modern Beijing, aspiring writer Wu and her mom live in a tiny home, at loggerheads whenever they’re not empathetically making up. Wu is played by director Yang Mingming, one of China’s brightest young talents, and in this screwball melo-comedy she deftly scooters around her neighbourhood while middle-aged mom (Nai An) copes with the men they may or may not need in their lives. Intense, joyous and witty, this is Chinese urban life as redefined by two indomitable, vibrant women.

A Land Imagined
(Huanxiang guotu)
YEO SIEW HUA, SINGAPORE/FRANCE/NETHERLANDS, 2018, 95 MIN.
North American Premiere
A Chinese migrant worker (Liu Xiaoyi) has gone missing from his factory. Inspector Lok (Peter Yu), a brooding and low-key man, is on the case. In true neo-noir style, his discoveries lead to ever-deepening mysteries. Lok wanders sleeplessly among towering constructions built on shifting sands. Hyper-controlled Singapore has never seemed so mysterious, unstable and eerie as in this hallucinatory fantasy of missing bodies, vicious exploitation, femme fatales, lost connections and buried dreams.

Manta Ray
(Kraben Rahu)
PHUTTIPHONG AROONPHENG, THAILAND/FRANCE/CHINA, 2018, 105 MIN.
Many Rohingya refugees have perished on their journeys to Thailand, and director Phuttiphong Aroonpheng has said that his film is dedicated to them. It’s no screed, but its explorations of identity and ownership certainly have political undertones. Wanlop Rungkamjad plays a Thai fisherman who discovers a mute, injured man (Aphisit Hama) near the coast. He takes him into his home and names him Thongchai, but when the fisherman disappears at sea, Thongchai starts to take on his rescuer’s identity…

Microhabitat
(So-gong-nyeo)
JEON GO-WOON, SOUTH KOREA, 2017, 104 MIN.
If your rent goes up, do you give up a) cigarettes, b) whisky or c) your apartment? Mi-so, a college dropout who scrapes by as a housekeeper, decides to move out and couch-surf with buddies of her former rock band. Her whimsical trip through the homes and heartaches of Seoul’s 30-somethings will strike a chord with Vancouverites suffering from the housing blues. Disarmingly offbeat yet unexpectedly poignant, this ode to bad habits and female independence is buoyed by winsome model-actress E-som.

Nervous Translation
SHIREEN SENO, PHILIPPINES, 90 MIN.
Canadian Premiere
Immersing us in an indie version of Wes Anderson cuteness, Shareen Seno’s feature is set in a Manila bungalow bursting with artifacts of 80s nostalgia. Here, eight-year-old Yael (Jana Agoncillo) makes miniature meals for her dollhouse and pines for her absent dad and other "Overseas Filipino Worker" relatives. Raised in Japan by OFW parents, Seno is able to capture the heartaches of the Filipino diaspora through the eyes of a lonely child’s nervous incomprehension of familial and national hardships.

The Running Actress
The Running Actress
(Yeo-bae-u-neun O-neul-do)
MOON SO-RI, SOUTH KOREA, 2017, 71 MIN.
North American Premiere
All Koreans know Moon So-ri, star of Lee Changdong and Hong Sangsoo’s masterpieces. When she wants a quiet drink, oafish men invite themselves to her table; a dentist dangles free implants for her mom as bait for autographs… Her shelves are lined with trophies, but lately she gets few scripts, except for cameos and “mom” roles. Playing herself in a directorial debut that whisks fact and fiction into an inseparable blend, Moon delivers a mordant parody of ageism and sexism in the film industry.

The Seen and the Unseen
(Sekala Niskala)
KAMILA ANDINI, INDONESIA/NETHERLANDS/AUSTRALIA/QATAR, 2017, 86 MIN.
Children and their imaginative subconscious are explored with great finesse in one of the most haunting Asian films in years. This magical tale draws on Balinese art and silent cinema to evoke out-of-body communication between a pair of twins (Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih and Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena). Shadow puppets and mythical animals come alive in visually ravishing scenes. Director Kamila Andini won the top prize in the Berlinale’s Generation K-plus section for her unique voice.

The Third Wife
The Third Wife
(Vợ Ba)
ASH MAYFAIR, VIETNAM, 2018, 96 MIN.
Vietnam in the 19th century: 14-year-old Ha (Trần Nữ Yên Khê) is married off to a wealthy landowner (Long Lê Vũ). Not surprisingly, the beginning of the marriage is frightening, from the consummation to the imposition of strict rules and customs. Eventually, Ha settles in, and the sadness of her acquiescence is palpable. But there’s worse to come… With its rich colours and immaculate production design, this recalls classics like Raise the Red Lantern, but it has a melancholy beauty all its own.

Information - VIFF 2017viff.org

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


Important Dates
THU AUG 23
ONLINE: Advance VIFF Pass + Ticket Packs on sale at viff.org

THU SEP 6 - Full Program available online.
ONLINE: VIFF Single Tickets on sale at viff.org

THU SEP 13
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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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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