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This year’s 30th Annual Vancouver International Film Festival promises another full line-up of films to suit all tastes. The festival will take place in various theatre venues around Vancouver from September 29 to October 14, 2011.

Providing one of the largest Canadian film showcases in the world, this year’s VIFF will feature 24 BC productions! As well, nearly 25% of the over 360 films that will be screened this year are home-grown. While the Vancouver International Fringe Festival is in full swing, I’ve already received a ton of VIFF media releases. I’ll focus this post on the Canadian feature films that are headed this way.

40 Days at Base Camp (Dianne Whelan) BC
With only half the level of oxygen we have at sea level, to be at base camp on Mt. Everest is to be dying a little bit every day. Director Dianne Whelan brings a photographer’s eye and a storyteller’s ear to this inhuman environment. With only half the level of oxygen we have at sea level, to be at base camp on Mt. Everest is to be dying a little bit every day. Director Dianne Whelan brings a photographer’s eye and a storyteller’s ear to this inhuman environment.
The Ailing Queen (Pascal Sanchez) Quebec
Director Pascal Sanchez’s examination of the worldwide efforts to battle bee-colony collapse concentrates on young, energetic beekeeper Anicet Desrochers. He is a pioneer of more ecological methods of managing bees- upon which the earth’s entire agricultural production depends.
BumRush (Michel Jetté) Quebec
Director Michel Jetté delivers an action-packed, deliciously tense portrait of Montreal’s criminal underbelly in this rip-roaring gangster film. A complex web of greed, ambition, and masculine codes of honour, with bursts of testosterone and loads of violence.
Cloudburst (Thom Fitzgerald) Nova Scotia
Colloquial humour colours Thom Fitzgerald’s romantic comedy about a lesbian couple planning to wed in Canada after more than 30 years together. Oscar-winner Olympia Dukakis shines in this beautiful love story as the defiant and hilariously profane Stella.
Comforting Skin (Derek Franson) BC
One night Koffie gets a tattoo­ – a last ditch attempt to imbue her life with excitement. But with the tattoo comes a mysterious connection that fills her life with taunting whispers and frantic desires. Director Derek Franson’s debut is a dark, intriguing psychological drama.
Desert Riders (Vic Sarin) BC
Camel racing is one of the Middle East’s most popular sports, but rarely revealed is the unspeakable horror thousands of boys face when sold into the world of jockeying. Director Vic Sarin gives a voice to these children in this bold and compelling doc.
Donovan’s Echo (Jim Cliffe) BC
Thirty years after a tragic accident, Donovan returns to his family home. Convinced history is repeating itself, he risks everything to save an unsuspecting family from the same fate. Directed by Jim Cliffe, Danny Glover adeptly brings a deeply conflicted character to the screen.
Everything and Everyone (Tracy D. Smith) BC
Tracy D. Smith’s latest feature is a beautifully told story of love, laughter, loss, and everything in between. A troubled group of family and friends deal with crises of age, love, death, parenthood and identity, taking us on a journey both hilarious and heartbreaking.

Family Portrait in Black and White
[Family Portrait in Black and White]
Family Portrait in Black and White (Julia Ivanova) BC
Director Julia Ivanova introduces strong-willed Olga, a single woman raising 16 black orphans in a small Ukrainian town. Growing up in a country of blue-eyed blondes, these children must always be on guard against the world around them. Winner, Best Canadian Feature, Hot Docs 2011.
Girl in the White Coat (Darrell Wasyk) Quebec
Élise is an outsider, working at a factory where she is alienated by her colleagues who focus their bullying torment on her old-fashioned, threadbare, once-white coat. Filmmaker Darrell Wasyk re-imagines Gogol’s The Overcoat in this transportive tale, set in wintry Montreal.
Guilt (Marc Bisaillon) Quebec
Director Marc Bisaillon explores themes of conscience in his latest drama, based on a true story. In St-Hyacinthe, Quebec, two teenagers find themselves responsible for an accidental homicide committed during a night of partying. The pair must find ways to shoulder the burden of guilt.
Hamlet (Bruce Ramsay) BC
Director and star Bruce Ramsay offers a noirish adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic, stripped for speed and steeped in claustrophobic angst. A subtle palette and superb 40s set design serve as the perfect backdrop to this tale of angst and internal conflict.
i am a good person/i am a bad person (Ingrid Veninger) Ontario
Director Ingrid Veninger follows up the success of Modra (VIFF ’10) with another beautifully crafted tale of Canadians abroad in Europe. As free-spirited filmmaker Ruby and her introspective daughter Sara split part way through their trip, each comes to terms with an inner conflict.
Inside Lara Roxx (Mia Donovan) Quebec
Lara Roxx was 21 and relatively inexperienced when she went to L.A. to make big money in porn. After only a few short weeks, she contracted HIV while working. Director Mia Donovan documents Lara’s emotional journey, while exposing the failings of a billion-dollar industry.
Nuit #1 (Anne Emond) Quebec
Clara and Nikolai meet at rave: the scene is set for a typical one-night-stand. But as the night progresses, they divulge their innermost secrets to one another. Director Anne Émond probes the possibilities of a fleeting encounter in this bold exploration of sex, intimacy and love.

On the Line
[On the Line]
On the Line (Frank Wolf) BC
Director Frank Wolf’s low-tech journey from the Alberta Tar Sands to the B.C. coast traces the planned route for the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, highlighting the soon to be affected locals and the as yet unspoiled wilderness over which this environmentally heedless project looms.
Passionflower (Shelagh Carter) Manitoba
Shelagh Carter’s touching and provocative story focuses on Sarah, a young woman nearing adolescence in early 1960s suburban Winnipeg, as she struggles to reconcile her mother’s licentious example of female sexuality with her own quest for validation and control.
Peace Out (Charles Wilkinson) BC
As Canada’s energy consumption grows, scientists, industry, and government are making hard choices about how to feed it. Charles Wilkinson’s latest eye-opener is a concentrated look at the harrowing costs of our technological affluence.
Planet Yoga (Carlos Ferrand) Quebec
This doc is an excellent primer on yoga’s philosophy, practice, and history. Director Carlos Ferrand undertakes a personal journey to discover the origins, chief practitioners and practical applications of this healing art.
Seeking the Current (Nicolas Boisclair, Alexis de Gheldere) Quebec
Directors Nicolas Boisclair and Alexis de Gheldere, together with Quebecois film star Roy Dupuis, take a scrupulous look at Hydro Quebec’s plan to construct dams along the Romaine River. This is a journey of dedication that goes beyond the critique to envision a better future for the land.
Sisters & Brothers (Carl Bessai) BC
Carl Bessai’s raucous, poignant feature is the latest in his series of collaboratively written comedies on the theme of family. This comedic tale about the trials and tribulations of four sibling pairs is an example of ensemble filmmaking at its finest.
Starbuck (Ken Scott) Quebec
David’s greatest financial success has been via his prolific donation of sperm–until a lab mix-up results in fatherhood on an epic scale. Ken Scott’s comedy is of the warm and upbeat variety, presenting hard choices for its hero and plenty of obstacles: 533, to be exact.
Sunflower Hour (Aaron Houston) BC
The buzz is very strong for Aaron Houston’s playful mockumentary about four puppeteers vying for one position on a hit children’s television show. Following these social outcasts, we discover that perhaps they’ve got no business being near children in the first place. – Winner, Independent Camera Award, Karlovy Vary 2011.
Surviving Progress (Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks) Quebec/BC
Based on Ronald Wright’s bestseller A Short History of Progress, this documentary provides a subversive diagnosis of mankind’s unique abilities and the danger they’ve brought to the world. Directors Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks probe the fundamental nature and effects of the human condition with disturbing precision.
To Make a Farm (Steve Suderman) Saskatchewan
Director Steve Suderman’s documentary profiles small-scale organic farmers who set out to establish their own local-supply food sources using sustainable means. Exceptionally hopeful, this doc shows that positivity and practicality are closely linked.
Trash (Benoit Pilon) Quebec
This gritty urban drama is director Benoît Pilon’s latest compassionate portrait of the human condition. As his respectable neighborhood is infiltrated by gangs expanding their territory, family man Pierre becomes obsessed with helping a frail young junkie named Eve.

West Wind
[West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson]
West Wind: The Vision of Tom Thomson (Michèle Hozer, Peter Raymont) Ontario
If there is one iconic image in Canadian art, it must be Tom Thomson, pipe in mouth, daubing paint on a board in the stern of a canoe. Directors Peter Raymont and Michèle Hozer have created a visually stunning and thoughtful reflection on the painter’s life and work.
Wetlands (Guy Édoin) Quebec
This elemental drama, set on a small family farm in rural Quebec, introduces four characters struggling with their most basic, unchangeable desires. Director Guy Édoin lays out a seemingly insoluble conflict in this powerful film, consisting of beautiful but almost unbearable tension.
Wiebo’s War (David York) Alberta
The story of Wiebo Ludwig is familiar to most Canadians. In the 90s, he came into conflict with an oil and gas company doing extractions near his property. From director David York emerges an honest, but ambiguous portrait of both the industry and Wiebo himself.

It’s expected that 150,000 will attend the over 600 screenings of 375 films from 75 countries at this year’s VIFF. Since 1982, the festival’s mandate has been to encourage the understanding of other nations through the art of cinema, to foster the art of cinema, to facilitate the meeting in British Columbia of cinema professionals from around the world, and to stimulate the BC and Canadian motion picture industry. Visit the website for details, schedules, and ticket information.

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