Establishing Shots – Mar 5-11, 2021

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.

Having screened Gianfranco Rosi’s Sacro GRA and Fire at Sea at past editions of our festival, we’re thrilled to share his latest work via our VIFF Connect streaming platform. Every bit as immersive as Rosi’s other celebrated documentaries, Notturno commemorated its premiere at the Venice Film Festival by claiming the Best Italian Film and Cinema for UNICEF awards. It then marked the start of its wider rollout by being named a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times, with Nicolas Rapold writing, “Eschewing interviews and captions, Rosi puts his faith in a steady tripod camera and an evident ability to build up trust… The past two decades of documentary film have produced many anatomies of history that attempt to summarize several millenniums, but Rosi’s borderless tableaus bring out another kind of truth in faces, places and pure feeling.”

Drawing comparisons to VIFF 2016 breakout Kedi and its cat’s eye view of Istanbul, Elizabeth Lo’s debut documentary Stray lets the dogs of Turkey have their day. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine’s Scott Macaulay, Lo explains that she envisioned her film as a subversive political act that could “inhabit a dog’s gaze and represent a dog’s life”. As she explains, the use of vintage lenses was critical: “The nostalgia that comes from those lenses was important to me because documenting the lives of these stray dogs felt in a sense like time travel… This film to me felt like documenting a modern time that has some somehow slipped from a more ancient time when we co-existed with animals everywhere.”

(Elizabeth Lo and Some Kind of Heaven’s Josh Oppenheim will take part in a free Indie Spirits Talk on March 30.)

With industry professionals currently bingeing on the Berlinale’s official selections, The Hollywood Reporter takes a look at those “lost films” from the 2020 edition that barely had a chance to premiere before seeing their best laid plans scuttled by the pandemic. Included amongst these is Philippe Falardeau’s My Salinger Year which, after proving an audience favourite at last fall’s VIFF, returns for an encore run on VIFF Connect.

Also joining the VIFF Connect collection this week are Petra Volpe’s The Divine Order and Isabel Coixet’s The Bookshop. These are just two of the titles available for free to our VIFF+ members.

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