Establishing Shots – March 19-25, 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.

On the heels of its two Oscar nominations (matching Honeyland’s groundbreaking feat from last year), we’re adding Alexander Nanau’s Collective to our VIFF Connect lineup. This exceptional piece of nonfiction filmmaking has amassed a litany of praise, leaving us with no shortage of glowing reviews to point you towards. RogerEbert.com’s Sheila O’Malley highlights the film’s virtues when she writes, “Collective has a propulsive energy, relentlessly building in urgency and outrage. It’s a portrait of corruption so total that oftentimes the participants onscreen look at one another helplessly, like: ‘How can we even combat this? Where do we even start?’ One of the distinguishing characteristics of Collective is the absence of ‘talking heads’ and experts speaking direct to camera, so common in most documentaries. This absence works on multiple levels. It thrusts the viewer into the middle of the cataclysmic series of events as they unfold, giving Collective a palpable immediacy.”

There’s also an immersive quality to Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid’s Enforcement, which deposits viewers into the midst of considerable chaos resulting from abuses of power. The filmmakers spoke to Cineuropa on the occasion of the film’s Venice premiere last summer and Hviid shared, “We’ve taken inspiration from a Danish incident, involving a young left-wing activist who was abused by three policemen on New Year’s Eve 1992 and got permanent brain damage. What strikes us with this [George] Floyd parallel is how tragically current these cases are, almost 30 years later.”

Stanley Kwan’s Centre Stage celebrates its 30th anniversary with the release of a restored version of its extended 154-minute cut. Meanwhile, the Honk Kong International Film Festival will be showcasing a 13-film retrospective of Kwan’s work starting April 1. In announcing the retrospective, Albert Lee, the HKIFF’s Executive Director, stated, “[Kwan] has developed a highly personal aesthetic style in his [portrayal] of the female psyche while capturing the nuanced transformation of the city and the era… Stanley has set benchmarks for LGBTQ films in Chinese-language cinema with his exploration of gender and sexuality issues. We are proud to acknowledge his unique and indelible contributions towards Hong Kong cinema.”

Finally, Ronnie’s takes viewers inside the Soho jazz institution, treats them to previously unseen performances and features testimonials from a number of music icons. As Imogen Tilden asserts in her review for The Guardian, this portrait of the venerable institution arrives at a particularly impactful juncture: “The poignancy of telling such a story during a period when so many musicians have been silenced is one the film-makers cannot have dreamed of, nor perhaps quite anticipated how much visceral enjoyment there is to be had from the atmospheric footage of the venue, packed, low-lit, the clink of bottles and the hum of expectant chatter. Ronnie’s puts you right there.”

Our VIFF+ members continue to enjoy free access to a selection of VIFF Collection titles. New to the platform this week are are Nora Twomey’s Oscar-nominated The Breadwinner and Talya Lavie’s irreverent Zero Motivation.

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