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.
Even in this upside down version of reality, no one should be expecting to read the headline “New Abel Ferrara film opens to universal acclaim” anytime soon. True to form, his latest collaboration with Willem Dafoe is “a beautiful, unhinged, sometimes hilarious trek into geographical and psychological wilderness that will delight some and mystify many others.” (Variety) Regardless of your ultimate assessment of the work, Siberia is precisely the sort of undiluted auteur statement that people attend international film festivals to experience.
Influential film theorists David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson are once again reporting on this year’s VIFF. In assessing Berlin Golden Bear-winner There Is No Evil, the third film by Mohammad Rasoulof they’ve caught at VIFF over the years, Kristin writes at observations on film art, “There Is No Evil is a deeply ironic title, since its four self-contained episodes deal with one of Iran’s notorious evils, its record for executing its citizens… Rasoulof explores various ways in which such executions affect the willing or unwilling people who carry out the orders, as well as the effects on people they know and love.”
VIFF was honoured to have Garrett Bradley speak on a panel with Michelle Latimer (Inconvenient Indian, Trickster) at this year’s Totally Indie Day. Bradley won Best Director in Sundance’s US Documentary Competition for her work on Time, a document a mother of six’s 21-year struggle to have her husband released from prison. In explaining her aspirations to Film Comment, she shared, “I hope that this film can set a new precedent not only for filmmakers but for subjects to have agency in their own story.”
With This Is My Desire, brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri have worked to create “a fluid, modestly constructed picture that permits the audience to inhabit the space alongside its characters.” Speaking to Berlin’s Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art about their approach to capturing Nigeria on screen, Chuko continues, “I just want people to experience this part of the world that they probably don’t know or have never seen. For them to recognise themselves in the characters, to go on an emotional journey with them.”
Directing a film based on his own life, photographer/restauranteur Edouard Bergeon has scored a box office hit in France with In the Name of the Land. Hollywood Reporter praises Bergeon’s “knack for coaxing naturalistic performances out of his cast”, including Guillaume Canet, who also starred in VIFF 2019 closer, La Belle Époque.
Ulike Ottinger returns us to the City of Light in the 1960s with Paris Calligrammes. The New Yorker observes that her methodology is “classical, but her sensibility transforms the film into a work of vital and energetic modernism. Meanwhile, Japanese director SABU takes a much more fantastical approach to the journey to the past offered up by Dancing Mary, a supernatural fable about a haunted dance hall that’s been praised by Asian Movie Pulse for being an “entertaining blend of horror and drama exploring themes like spirituality and determinism…”
We leave you today with looks at two selections in our True North series. On the heels of winning Emerging Canadian Filmmaker at Hot Docs 2019 for Cavebirds, Emily Gan co-directs Pink Lake, an intimate drama, with Daniel Schachter. Meanwhile, Kim O’Bomsawin’s Call Me Human has just claimed an accolade at VIFF 2020, with the jury declaring: “We are pleased to award the prize for Best Canadian Documentary to Kim O’Bomsawin’s Call Me Human, the dazzling and contemplative portrait of Innu poet Josephine Bacon, a vital artist. The film gracefully invites the audience to view the world from her perspective. The jury was moved by O’Bomsawin’s quietly daring cinematic language, and the way it captures Bacon’s beautiful words, instilling a reverence for her land and all that it provides. O’Bomsawin honours Josephine Bacon with the film she deserves, one that is gloriously Innu.”