VIFF Dailies – Oct 4, 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.

Another dispatch from the “always exhilarating” VIFF has been posted over at Observations on film art. On this occasion, David Bordwell writes effusively on Sergio Basso’s Sarita, a musical shot with Bhutanese refugees living in a camp in Nepal. “Counterpointing the harsh realities of daily routines and homesickness are moments of song and dance, in bursts of brilliant color and gymnastic choreography… This film is an extraordinary achievement.”

In the words of director Cheryl Foggo, John Ware Reclaimed is a portrait of “one of those famous people no one has ever heard of.” Also incorporating a number of musical interludes, her documentary examines the complex legend of this Black cowboy in frontier Alberta. POV Magazine surmises, “In deconstructing the various mythologies surround John Ware… Foggo succeeds in providing a rich context that makes his numerous accomplishments seem even more impressive.”

VIFF hosts the North American premiere of Ivan Ostrochovsky’s Servants. Set in the Czech Republic in 1980, this examination of the relationship between church and state has been applauded by Screen for being “insidiously flinty, supremely assured and chillingly stylish… an unsettling rebuke of government control and ideological manipulation – as well as a sharp cry against compliance with the prevailing status quo.”

Screen also weighs in on Anerca, Breath of Life, a profile the Arctic Circle’s Indigenous peoples. On the heels of winning Most Innovative Feature at Visions du Réel, the nonfiction work is lauded for being a “lyrical collage of cultural artefacts, rituals and creation… not so much a documentary as an attempt to connect with the soul of each of the cultures it visits.”

Frelle Petersen’s Uncle scored the Grand Prix at the Tokyo International Film Festival last fall and also earned glowing reviews for its understated depiction of rural Danish life. Cineuropa writes, “Dreams, hopes, struggles – all are ongoing and are part of parcel of Uncle… Moments of bliss, however, abound in this beautifully lensed (by Petersen himself) and quite exquisite slice of humanity.” 

Talking to the Golden Globe Awards website about Marcel Duchamp: The Art of the Possible and his enduring admiration for the iconoclast, Matthew Taylor (himself an artist and sculptor) reminisces, “It was the mid-90s and my dad gave me this book called Duchamp by Calvin Tomkins. I became so enamored with Marcel Duchamp that it became my bible as I entered art school, and I painted my entire perspective of art-making in the kind of framework of Marcel Duchamp.”

In every festival lineup there’s undoubtedly one or two film titles that just jump out at you. Odds are, David Milchard’s Fucking Idiots may’ve caught your eye this year. If you haven’t yet let your curiosity get the better of you, here’s a peek inside this pressure cooker of socially awkward comedy.

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