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VIFF Highlights

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DH Vancouver Staff Oct 21, 2011 8:56 am

30th edition of Vancouver International Film Festival wrapped up last Friday and thousands of moviegoers (152,000 this year!) enjoyed some spectacular films from around the world. Here are some of the highlights as picked by our team. Hopefully you will be able to catch some of them in theaters later this year. Check out the Vancity Theatre website for more info. If you had any favorites please let us know in the comment section.

Pina

We are used to seeing 3D in the new Sci-Fi and Animation blockbusters but German filmmaker Wim Wenders created a visually brilliant dance film using 3D to such efficiency that you will enjoy this film whether or not you are a fan of Art Cinema or dance.

The Artist

A gem of a movie. Michel Hazanavicius has succeeded brilliantely in what could have been a boring, stylistic exercise that nobody would like to see. The Artist is wonderfully entertaining, touching, gorgeous to look at. We care for Georges Valentin, the caracter played with incredible sensitivity by Jean Dujardin, as an silent movie star who cannot adapt to the new reality of the “talkies”. People were cheering at the end and all I want, is to see it again and get lost in a time so wonderfully re-created. A silent movie in black and white that out-does all the 3D special effect ones released this year or any year.

Donovan’s echo.

A mysterious and wonderful tittle that takes his full meaning as the movie unfolds. This shot in BC movie was clearly a labour of love for the writer/director. The story is moving and heartfelt and the acting is excellent throughout. A very pleasant surprise.

Bullhead

The ongoing governmental crackdown on illegal growth hormone usage in the Belgian beef industry forms the basis for this powerful character study. A farm in Belguim has become involved with the local “hormone mafia” and younger brother Jacky is an emotionally unstable steroid-injecting meathead who has more than a few things in common with the bulls he raises. What makes this film poweful is that the dirctor instead of taking the common police procedure route, focuses on Jacky. Slowly we get to see through flash backs what really makes a macho man.

Elena

Although this film is set up like a film noir, what we really are exposed to are the stark differences in the “new russia society” for a select rich minority. The main character is desperate to have her grandson miss out on military training. She is upset that her recent older rich husband will not step in and pay to have him exempt. This is a bleak film, with the usual long russian takes set against subtle orchestra score. Elena shows a woman’s desperate decision to save her family.

How to Die in Oregon

This is an intimate and thought provoking documentary. It chronicals the final days of several of the Oregons Die with Dignity program that was passed in 1994.It shows unrelenting compassion towards its subjects. It makes Canadain legislation far behind on this subject, unlike Capital Punishment and Abortion where Canada is far more current with the times. There is no reason to have people have eganizing deaths and we see a family dealing with dying with the support of family physicans.

40 Days At Basecamp

BC native Dianne Whelan spent 40 days at the Everest Base Camp and made a beautiful documentary filled with stunning imagery of the world’s highest mountain and personal stories of the climbers who are attempting to conquer it.

Reviews by Darko Sikman, Jennifer Unruh and Laurent Goldstein


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DH Vancouver Staff
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