The Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) may be considered the smaller cousin to the glitzy and celeb-studded TIFF, but there are tons of films showcasing homegrown talent and international gems to satisfy your film cravings.

Hue Vic Sarin VIFF

Story by Rumnique Nannar

It’s time to get the calendars ready and book some time off for matinees as we indulge in the most awaited films at the VIFF 2013.




There’s something wonderful about Alexander Payne’s cinema, especially in the way he resurrects actors and gives a new lease of life to a middling career (just think of Jack Nicholson as the downbeat schlub in About Schmidt, or the preening womanizer Thomas Haden Church played in Sideways). This time he’s got two of my favourite people, Bruce Dern and Will Forte playing father and son going a road trip to Nebraska to claim some sweepstakes money. It’s a departure for Payne who making a more dramatic feature that takes an elegiac look at the American family and these two troubled characters.


Hue – A Matter of Colour 


We’re extremely excited about Vic Sarin’s latest documentary, which explores the thorny and painful experiences of  shadeism and colour prejudice, which ties in brilliantly with the recent Dark is Beautiful campaign. Sarin takes a personal approach, exploring his own unease with his skin colour as an Indian moving between Australia and Canada. The film takes us from the Philippines to Tanzania, where individuals struggle with the implications of prejudice and marginalization, as race, politics and healing collide in this fascinating documentary.


Blue is the Warmest Colour

With a spotlight on French films this year at VIFF, the list wouldn’t be complete without a controversial Palme D’Or winner, Blue is the Warmest, that also brought wins for actors Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos. The film marks the sixth feature by Abdellatif Kechiche after a three year gap. While the film has been making headlines for its graphic love scenes, it’s certainly worth watching for its shattering portrayal of first love, sexuality and heartbreak.


Liv and Ingmar


The inner film studies student in me is squeaking with delight to watch Dheeraj Akolkar’s documentary that tackles the loving and tempestuous relationship between Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman and his muse and love, Liv Ullmann. The film takes a look at the romance in an unsentimental and probing light from Ullmann’s point of view, with their love letters peppered throughout the narrative. Shedding insight on their stunning onscreen collaborations and romantic hurdles off-screen, the film offers an engaging and thoughtful look at this iconic cinematic pair.


Le Week-end

Roger Mitchell and perennial favourite, Hanif Kureishi, team up for the third time on Le Week-end, after their evocative and brilliant Venus (2006) and The Mother (2003). Lindsey Duncan and Jim Broadbent play an academic couple attempting to rejuvenate their marriage with a trip to Paris, with Jeff Goldblum lending them ample support in the City of Love. Much like their previous efforts, Kureishi and Mitchell take a measured and cliche-free look at aging and love.


The Past

The Past VIFF

Asghar Farhadi’s follow up to the brilliant A Separation is Le Passe, a tense and emotional marital drama with Cannes winner Berenice Bejo, a stunning Tahar Rahim and Ali Mosaffa. It’ll be interesting to see how Farhadi’s style has evolved now that he is exclusively working in France. The film follows an Iranian man who abandons his wife and children for his homeland, but upon his return, he finds his wife in a relationship with a much-younger man and with a request for divorce. Le Passe has already won critical acclaim for the performances and the twisty script.



A definite crowd pleaser at the Berlin International Film Festival this year, Sebastian Lelio’s witty and charming film follows Gloria (Paulina Garcia) a free-spirited and vivacious older woman who doesn’t let divorce stop her from dating, sex and finding a hapless gentleman in Rodolfo (Sergio Hernandez). The film is already being sent as Chile’s entry to the Oscars, and has won over critics and audiences during its festival run. Eschewing the cliches and presenting sex without the tame angles used for older actors, the film lets out the paunch (after he takes off his girdle), and cellulite for an honest and funny look at a determined woman seeking out her own happiness.


Finding Vivian Maier

Finding Vivian Maier VIFF 

One of the biggest finds of the photography world was when John Maloof found 100,000 negatives by the reclusive New York nanny Vivian Maier, whose gorgeous street photos of New York life displayed such artistry. The photos were released as a book a few years ago, but now Maloof and Charlie Siskel take deeper steps to discovering more about Maier’s life and her closet-photography. If you want to see a time capsule of the city in all its glory, from the Bowery to the bustling Bronx to the upper echelons of New York high society, add this to your VIFF list.


Blind Detective

If you’re a sucker for thrilling Hong Kong cinema, look no further than Johnnie To’s Blind Detective, which stars the lovely Andy Lau as the titular detective, and Sammi Chen as a tough female cop who team up to solve a robbery case. Johnnie To is having a career renaissance after his broody and gritty Drug War last year, and this quirky mystery brings together an odd couple for a case that no one thinks they can crack.



Wadjda VIFF film festival

Haifaa Al Mansour’s first feature is a thoughtful and provocative look at the plucky 10 year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) who longs to buy a green bicycle to race against her friend Abdullah. Mansour’s film is the first film shot on Saudi soil which talks about the lives of women and their attempts at challenging patriarchal norms. We’ve heard great things about this endearing tale and cannot wait to see more from Mansour, who’s been opening many doors for other female directors in Saudi Arabia.

The Vancouver International Film Festival runs from September 26 to October 11, 2013 at various locations in Downtown Vancouver.


Story By: Rumnique Nannar  |  Photography Courtesy: VIFF