Establishing Shots: Nov 6-12, 2020

Every week, Establishing Shots offers some further enlightenment on the films that will be screening in-cinema at the VIFF Centre and online through VIFF Connect.

Who isn’t looking for a little inspiration right now? Well, look no further than Suzanne Crocker. The Yukon-based documentarian likely merits a Decoration of Bravery after convincing her family to eat only locally sourced food for a year and allow the challenge to be captured on film. All of this while she voluntarily quit coffee cold turkey. The end result is First We Eat, which screens both in-cinema and on VIFF Connect starting Friday, November 6.

Discussing the undertaking with Scout Magazine in advance of this year’s VIFF, Suzanne shares, “I am drawn towards the concepts of sustainability, living within our geographic means, the strength of community, the importance of in-person human interactions, and trying my best to live in a way that respects and protects the planet.”

Over at Variety, Peter Debruge talks to Sophia Loren about her return to the screen in The Life Ahead, which marks her first appearance in a feature film in 11 years. Of course, this is but the jumping off point for a deep dive into the eight-decade career of this living legend. The article also enticingly promises that The Life Ahead “reveals a side of Loren most audiences haven’t seen.”

Having claimed an audience award and special jury prize back at SXSW 2019, Saint Frances now launches on VIFF Connect and invites Vancouver filmmakers to see precisely why director Alex Thompson was declared a Breakthrough Voice by that taste-making festival. In an extended interview with RogerEbert.com, Thompson and Saint Frances’ writer/star Kelly O’Sullivan discuss the film’s unique depiction of motherhood, their desire to demolish stigmas and the influence of Hal Ashby on their work.

Israeli drama God of the Piano likewise sees the emergence of a bold new filmmaking voice. Another compelling portrait of parenthood, Itay Tal’s directorial debut scored a Critics Pick designation from The New York Times, with Glenn Kenny surmising, “Rarely does a debut feature showcase a talent so fully formed. This is a remarkably potent film.”

Penned to coincide with a 2015 retrospective of his work, this Sight and Sound piece cites Abderrahmane Sissako as “one of modern world cinema’s most vital voices”. On the occasion of VIFF presenting the 4K restoration of Bamako, this is a fine opportunity for the uninitiated to familiarize themselves with a singular artist who has “offered serious narratives about the realities facing Africa today, told through searingly beautiful images.”

Hillbilly Elegy, an adaptation of J.D. Vance’s bestselling memoir, has been described by director Ron Howard as both “an emotional epic” and an extremely personal tribute to his parents’ upbringings. Almost guaranteed to factor into the awards season conversation, the film begins a theatrical run at the Vancity Theatre on November 11.

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