This year I will be covering the Vancouver International Film Festival rather extensively. From films to parties, I’ll have tweets, photos, and write ups about the best of the fest.
While the city is warming up for the hundreds of films that will grace our screens starting this week, I had been flipping through my program trying to formulate a viewing game plan. I then realized that there’s someone in town that could give me the ultimate VIFF overview, and that’s Marina from Row Three.
Marina and Row Three have been an excellent online film resource for years and in 2008 I profiled her for my weekly E!Online article. Marina also introduced me to many things including the works of Carl Bessai — an amazing local filmmaker and consistent audience-favourite. Row Three‘s coverage this year will focus heavily on Canadian film and with almost 100 movies in the Canadian Images series at the festival, it’s a hefty task that I know they’re up to.
I sat down with Marina the other night to see what she’s looking forward to this year and to see if she’ll make it to all 40+ films she has on her own “must see” list. I asked her to name a few of her picks (and I’ve added in one of my own as well):
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Canada/UK – Director: Terry Gilliam
This was Heath Ledger’s last film and as Marina explained to me, Gilliam thought, “It was either scrap the movie or come up with some other way to finish it.” So some of Ledger’s friends were called upon to finish this in his honor. The film sees big names such as Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell and even Tom Waits make appearances although Marina says it’s truly Plummer’s film.
Canada – Director: Bruce Sweeney
“I’m mostly excited about this because it’s Bruce Sweeney,” said Marina. “I’m more excited about the cast – especially Gabrielle Rose.”
Canada – Director: Nimisha Mukerji, Philip Lyall
I was told this film won the audience choice award at Hot Docs earlier this year and is by two Vancouver directors about their friend who has Cystic Fibrosis and uses the internet to emotionally cope with it. Marina and I both have this one on our radar.
I Killed My Mother
Canada – Director: Xavier Dolan
“For must-watch Canadian films I’ve got to say it’s I Killed My Mother,” noted Marina “It’s Xavier Dolan’s directorial debut. It got a lot of attention at Cannes and it’s also Canada’s entry into the Oscar race next year.”
Prom Night in Mississippi
Canada – Paul Saltzman
“A really interesting and bizarre story about a high school in small town Mississippi that still has segregated proms.” Marina says, “The film is much more poignant because you get the view of segregation from the kids’ point of view and they’re really blunt. They don’t hide anything and what’s on their mind is what they say. It just really makes you wonder — like we’re in 2009 and people still think like that.” Marina said that it would be great if you have teenage kids and the film is “really well shot”.
I just have to also quickly mention Facing Ali by Pete McCormmack as one I’m really looking forward to seeing as well. Marina also recommended Bessai’s Cole …but I have to keep this as close to a Top 5 as possible.
Now that you know at least
five six of the films that will be playing, I’d like to give you the chance to get out and see some movies. I have two double passes to give away to any* VIFF 2009 film so if you would like to enter to win, please leave a comment and I’ll draw the winners tomorrow afternoon. Your comment can include which of the Top 5 you’re looking forward to, your own picks, or even your favourite Canadian film of all time.
You can pick up your own copy of the festival program or browse titles online to view other titles of interest. You can also check out the Row Three podcast for reviews and info about the film scene in Vancouver.
*Winners will be able to select form any of the films on the schedule (except galas) and this will not include films that are already sold out or that only have rush/door tickets.
Update: I just drew Hedwig and Rich as the winners of the tickets – thanks for entering the contest, everyone!