PuSh Pairings: Performances & Films That Go Hand-In-Hand at PuSh 2019

PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of Vancouver’s signature events. Produced over three weeks each January, the PuSh Festival presents groundbreaking work in the live performing arts. VIFF is thrilled to partner with PuSh to co-present our 2nd annual PuSh Film Serieshere at VIFF Vancity Theatre on consecutive Sundays in January/February.

To round out your PuSh Festival experience, we offer a selection of films inspired by, and intended to be paired with, performances and artists in the 2019 PuSh program. In this partnership with VIFF, the darkened cinema matches the darkened theatre in illuminating and surprising ways.

Bicycle Thieves

Composer and musical director Joelysa Pankanea guides a group of six musicians and four actors as they provide live musical and voice accompaniment to Vittorio De Sica’s landmark neorealist film Bicycle Thieves. The project is a special commission from PuSh to Pankanea; when asked to choose a film to pay this special kind of tribute to, she chose Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece, which tells the story of an impoverished man, his son and their search for a stolen bicycle amid the chaos of post-WWII Rome.


Bicycle Thieves is on Saturday, January 26 (7PM) & Sunday, January 27 (2PM) at Performance Works, Granville Island. 

Joelysa Pankanea will also appear in conversation with composer Graham Reynolds (Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance) and Mark Haney (Aim for the Roses) at a free talk at Vancity Theatre on Sunday February 3, 3PM.

Pair it with:

The Children are Watching Us

Five years before Bicycle Thieves, director De Sica and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini collaborated for the first time (along with three other writers) on this heartbreaking tale of a family breakup witnessed through the eyes of a child. Shot in 1942 under the fascist regime, the film broke with the pieties of the time by acknowledging the tensions that can tear apart a marriage. As Zavattini remarked, the film marked “the most important stage in my evolution as a filmmaker… and as a human being. Through the character of the child, we felt for the first time a human being… all my previous characters felt like puppets.”


The Children are WatchinUs screens Sunday, January 20, 3PM
at Vancity Theatre.


A haunting, monochromatic vision of life in the not entirely abandoned radioactive “Workers’ City” of Pripyat more than a decade after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, Nicholas Geyrhalter’s film is akin to a documentary version of Tarkovsky’s Stalker, a potent, patient meditation on a post-apocalyptic city which is gradually being reclaimed by nature, and the handful of hold-outs who refuse to give up the ghost. Using long, still takes and interviews with four of the residents, Geyrhalter constructs a movie that is both concrete and abstract.

Pripyat screens Sunday, January 28, 3PM at Vancity Theatre.

Pair it with:

Zvizdal (Chernobyl – So Far So Close)

Members of the Antwerp-based art collective BERLIN, together with journalist Cathy Blisson, spent five years filming Nadia and Pétro Opanassovitch Lubenoc, an elderly couple living deep within the irradiated Chernobyl exclusion zone in a place called Zvizdal. Alone, isolated—the nearest shop is 20 kilometres away—and convinced that they have grown immune to the radiation, the couple refuses to leave, despite the entreaties of officials, friends and family…

This deeply affecting documentary-installation inserts live shots of three miniature models of Nadia and Pétro’s homestead, while examining the couple’s lives in detail. The intimacy here is astonishing and very moving; it is clear that the artists and the couple formed a deep bond during their time together. What emerges in the work is a portrait of loneliness, survival, poverty, hope and unconditional love.

PHOTO: Frederik Buyckx

 Zvizdal (Chernobyl – so far so close) is on January 31–February 2 (8PM) & February 1–2 (4PM) at Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre. Post-show Talkback: January 31.

Pancho Villa From a Safe Distance

This bilingual, cross-border, cross-genre opera about the enigmatic general, legendary bandit and hero of the Mexican Revolution presents a non-linear collage of scenes from, or inspired by, his life. Six musicians—playing keyboards, drums, violin, cello, electric guitar and bass/tuba—accompany two singers, who in turn are aided by both pre-recorded and live video images, frequently overlaid.

Originally commissioned by Ballroom Marfa, this award-winning project brings together an impressive array of artistic collaborators from both sides of the Rio Grande, including Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds and librettists Lagartijas Tiradas al Sol of Mexico City. Melding an avant-garde aesthetic with political overtones and a blend of Tejano and Mexican music, the piece provides a timely focus on the relationships and overlaps between the communities of Mexico and the US, as well as the borderlands in between.


Pancho Villa From A Sage Distance is on Thursday, January 31 (8PM) at Vogue Theatre.

Pair it with:

Graham Reynolds & Joelysa Pankanea in conversation with Mark Haney (FREE)

Composers Graham Reynolds (Pancho Villa from a Safe Distance) and Joelysa Pankanea (Bicycle Thieves) in conversation with Mark Haney (Aim for the Roses) will discuss music and movies, the inspiration and discipline of composing for the screen. Reynolds will talk about his regular collaborations with director Richard Linklater, including Before Midnight, Bernie, and A Scanner Darkly, which screens after this conversation.

This free*, all-ages talk is on Sunday, February 3, 3PM at Vancity Theatre. * Tickets are free, but booking ahead is recommended. Seats are not guaranteed and will be allotted to ticket-holders on a first-come, first-served basis.

Pair it with:

A Scanner Darkly

Composer Graham Reynolds has worked with director Richard Linklater on four feature films, including Before MidnightBernie, and Last Flag Flying. But their first collaboration was on this weirdly funny but inescapably prophetic Rotoscope-animated adaptation of Philip K Dick’s novel about alternate realities, drugs, paranoia, and the surveillance state. Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr and Winona Ryder can still be detected underneath the movie’s digitally scrambled vision of suburban stoner simulacra.

A Scanner Darkly screens Sunday, February 3, 4:30PM at Vancity Theatre, following a free in conversation with the film’s composer Graham Reynolds and Joelysa Pankanea (Bicycle Thieves).

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