VIFF Dailies – Sep 26, 2020

Every day during this year’s festival, we’ll be offering you some supplemental reading (and the odd visual aid) in order to better inform your future viewing or appreciation of work you’ve already seen.

Michelle Latimer’s Inconvenient Indian has been one of the most in-demand films at this year’s festival. As the end credits roll, viewers will likely find themselves eager to delve deeper into the myriad discussion points it presents. Well: On the heels of the film’s TIFF premiere, Seventh Row sat down with the director to extensively discuss her motivations and methodology. (Michelle is also a panelist at today’s Totally Indie Day, VIFF’s long-standing creative development conference.)

Michelle’s documentary is but one of 38 nonfiction features at VIFF 2020. Another adaptation of a best-selling book, The Hidden Life of Trees, explores Peter Wohlleben’s research proving that trees aren’t just sentient but “highly sensitive and social beings.” 

Ursula Liang’s Down a Dark Stairwell is one of three documentaries at this year’s VIFF to examine police violence. In this interview, Liang discusses her expose of the inherent racism of police training and her own struggles with how best to be an ally.

Meanwhile, with the American election upon us, Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President  looks back at how “Carter’s efforts as a civil rights leader made him an appealing candidate who used soft power — music — to win hearts and minds.” 

It’s been a spell since a Bruce LaBruce film screened at VIFF but the iconoclast returns in ‘70s retro style with his irreverent Saint-Narcisse (a North American premiere). The film finds LaBruce “retaining the anarchic, B-movie-influenced aesthetic of his previous features that his cult following expects while achieving a new level of finesse in terms of how everything has been put together.”

A far more pointed provocation is Violation, the debut feature from Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli. Having screened all three of the duo’s short films, we’ve prepared a primer for uninitiated viewers on the directors’ shared “interest in transgression, subverting expectations of intimacy and relational familiarity to demonstrate the consequences of abuse.”

Violation also serves as a showcase of Sims-Fewer’s haunting presence in front of the camera. Another spectacular central performance not to be missed comes courtesy of Stephy Tang, who embodies the “confounding state of the modern Hongkonger” in My Prince Edward. Elsewhere, Chris Abbott, Aubrey Plaza and Sarah Gadon fearlessly throw themselves into Black Bear,  a “uproarious deconstruction of modern culture and indie filmmaking.” (The three actors will reunite for a VIFF workshop on September 30.)

Finally, we’ll leave you with this look at Nadezhda Gorelova in The Pencil, the story of an artist pitted against a society that’s broken to the core.

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