VIFF Announces 2019 Canadian Line-up


By Pat Mullen

Alanis Obomsawin, John Walker, Dan Popa, and Jason Da Silva are among the documentary highlights in the Canadian line-up at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. VIFF unveiled its 2019 Canadian slate with the announcement of the True North and Sea to Sky programmes, which represent films from Canada and British Columbia, respectively. Obomsawin’s Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger will move to VIFF after having its world premiere at TIFF as part of its inevitable tour on the Canadian festival circuit, as the master director’s films have all done of late. The film completes Obomsawin’s recent chapter of work that focuses on the rights of Indigenous children.

Two Hot Docs highlights, Walker’s Assholes: A Theory and da Silva’s When We Walk make their West Coast debuts in the True North line-up. Assholes is Walker’s humorous essay on “asshole culture,” which is in full swing with the likes of Doug Ford and Donald Trump dumping their toxicity atop everyone they can. When We Walk offers a poignant follow-up to Da Silva’s award-winning film When We Walk. Popa’s Symphony in Aquamarine gets a second wind on the festival circuit after debuting at Montreal’s RIDM last year. The film is an immersive sensory symphony that draws upon the power of sound to create an environmental parable.

The BC spotlight offers a trio of documentaries as well from local filmmakers. Charles Wilkinson (Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World) adds to his prolific body of eco docs with Haida Modern, a portrait of carver Robert Davidson. Julia Ivanova brings home the BC premiere of her new film My Dads, My Moms and Me_, which world premiered at Hot Docs earlier this year where Ivanova was honoured with the annual Focus On retrospective. Ying Wang debuts his “docu-thriller” The World Is Bright is bright, which offers a tragic story about a Chinese couple that arrives in Vancouver to investigate the mysterious death of their son.

Docs are also represented in VIFF’s boundary-pushing Future/Present programme with Heather Young’s docu-fiction hybrid Murmur and Lewis Bennett and Aaron Zeghers’s award-winning archival collage Danny.

Additional films will be announced in the following weeks. VIFF runs September 26 – October 11, 2019,