VIFF 2020 Line-up Includes Abbott, Foggo, Uppal/Serpa Francoeur, and TIFF Docs

Greta Thunberg at the Climate Strike March in Vancouver, Canada, as seen in Jennifer Abbott’s The Magnitude of All Things.


By Pat Mullen

Loretta Todd’s Monkey Beach will open this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). VIFF announced today its full slate of programming, which was headlined by the world premiere of Todd’s adaptation of the acclaimed Eden Robinson novel. Robinson’s work has a strong presence on this year’s festival circuit with Michelle Latimer’s Trickster, a CBC adaptation of the author’s Son of a Trickster among the world premieres in Toronto.

The Vancouver festival joins most other major festivals in shifting online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but this transition affords the event a wider reach with films available province-wide. Select titles will also appear as in-cinema screenings with the proper safety precautions. VIFF’s line-up boasts over 100 feature films, nearly doubling TIFF’s tally for its hybrid in person/online festival.

All three Canadian documentary features playing Toronto — Inconvenient Indian by Michelle Latimer, The New Corporation by Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan, and No Ordinary Man by Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt—appear in Vancouver’s line-up. Corporation director Abbott has two docs at the festival as her NFB feature The Magnitude of All Things, about personal and planetary grief, is among VIFF’s world premieres. Other Canadian docs appearing at VIFF include, but are not limited to, Robinder Uppal and Marc Serpa Francoeur’s police brutality doc No Visible Trauma, Cheryl Foggo’s John Ware Reclaimed about the titular Black cowboy, and Jean-François Lesage’s Prayer for a Lost Mitten, which won Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs earlier this year.

“Despite the roadblocks presented by the pandemic, we’ve sought out opportunities hidden within the challenges,” said Kyle Fostner, VIFF interim executive director, in a statement from the festival. “We have uncovered inclusive new ways to share our love of film, while building foundations that will benefit the organization for years to come. The result is an ambitious and innovative festival model firmly rooted in our identity as a ‘creator’s festival,’ boasting the best films and filmmakers in the world…This year’s festival aims to remind us of a world of possibilities, and hopefully for a moment, transport us somewhere we’ve never been.”

“The more streamlined program we’re presenting this year has allowed us to bring a greater focus to the stories we’re sharing and filmmakers we’re showcasing,” added Curtis Woloschuk, associate director of programming, in a statement. “While audiences will find the same quality of films, they’ll represent a greater diversity of perspectives. Of the 24 Canadian features at the festival, 14 are by female creators and 11 are by BIPOC filmmakers — including must-see works by emerging and established Indigenous directors.”

VIFF’s online platform VIFF Connect makes the programming accessible to B.C. residents with an all-inclusive pass for only $60. The festival’s industry talks, moreover, are available globally. Voices from the documentary field appearing in VIFF’s industry sessions include Inconvenient Indian director Michelle Latimer and Time director Garrett Bradley in a session on debut docs, while Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets directors Bill Ross IV and Taylor Ross join for a discussion on docu-fiction.

The Canadian films in VIFF’s True North line-up are:

Akilla’s Escape (dir. Charles Officer, Canada)
Beans (dir. Tracey Deer, Canada)
Brother, I Cry (dir. Jessie Anthony, Canada) | World Premiere
Call Me Human (dir. Kim Obomsawin, Canada)
Chained (dir. Titus Heckel, Canada) | World Premiere
Events Transpiring Before, During and After a High School Basketball Game (dir. Ted Stenson, Canada) | World Premiere
First We Eat (dir. Suzanne Crocker, Canada)
Flowers of a Field (dir. Andrew Stanley, Canada) | World Premiere
Fucking Idiots (dir. David Milchard, Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
Happy Place (dir. Helen Shaver, Canada)
Inconvenient Indian (dir. Michelle Latimer, Canada)
John Ware Reclaimed (dir. Cheryl Foggo, Canada)
The Magnitude of All Things (dir. Jennifer Abbott, Canada) | World Premiere | BC Feature
Monkey Beach (dir. Loretta Sarah Todd), Canada | World Premiere | BC Feature | Opening Film
My Salinger Year (dir. Philippe Falardeau, Canada/Ireland)
Nadia, Butterfly (dir. Pascal Plante, Canada)
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (dirs. Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott, Canada/USA/Belgium/UK/Switzerland/Kenya/Spain/Australia) | BC Feature
No Ordinary Man (dirs. Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt, Canada)
No Visible Trauma (dirs. Robinder Uppal, Marc Serpa Francoeur, Canada) | World Premiere
Pink Lake (dirs. Emily Gan, Daniel Schachter, Canada) | World Premiere
Prayer for a Lost Mitten (dir. Jean-François Lesage, Canada)
Saint-Narcisse (dir. Bruce LaBruce, Canada) | North American Premiere

Please visit VIFF.org for the full programming list. VIFF runs Sept. 24 – Oct. 7.