With TIFF Wrapped, It’s on to VIFF

By Nancy Lanthier

Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) doesn’t boast the celebrity sightings and glitzy world premieres of its eastern counterpart, TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). (Check out POV’s complete TIFF coverage here!) But that’s just what makes it great. VIFF is more relaxed. It’s a festival for cinephiles, for celebrating the craft and creativity of filmmaking, rather than an event that plays to autograph hounds. Because it’s a long festival (16 days) with many screenings, there are fewer line-ups.

Anyway, those popular Hollywood films aren’t the largest draw at VIFF. Attendees know those films will come out later. So they tend to be more excited about documentaries, and Canadian films—both of which you can watch more of at VIFF than at TIFF—as well as international films that might never get a commercial theatrical release here. VIFF’s Asian program is particularly strong.

Ready to dig in? The 35th annual VIFF has changed. It has a new logo, website, programming structure, and a new date: The festival starts Sept 29. That’s a week later than usual to make it easier to get films that also play Toronto’s festival.

This year, the festival’s more than 300 films have been divided into nine new separate streams – Panorama, Ignite, Impact, Next, Gateway, M/A/D, ALT, Youth, and True North. Within these streams, one can find all kinds of programming, including talks, workshops, and more—all reflecting the fest’s commitment to serve not just film buffs, but all the people who work here in the industry, the third largest film production centre in North America.

“Vancouver is probably one of the most creative and innovative cities in the world,” VIFF’s executive director Jacqueline Dupuis told a local reporter. “So you have to think about, what do these people want to engage with? And I think it comes down to an experience.”

To that end, the first ever VIFF Hub will take over VIFF’s Vancity Theatre for the first eight days of the festival. VIFF Hub’s schedule includes creator talks with speakers, including showrunners Marti Noxon (UnREAL) and Simon Davis Barry (Van Helsing), as well as Orphan Black actress Tatiana Maslany, whose The Other Half screens at VIFF, Sept. 30. There are late-night video-music performances, opportunities for networking, and an entire day dedicated to the virtual reality industry.

As for this year’s film line-up, the program includes highly anticipated titles like Birth of a Nation, American Honey, Manchester by the Sea and new films from Pedro Almodovar, Paul Verhoeven, Ken Loach, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Jim Jarmusch, Olivier Assayas, the Dardenne Brothers, Vic Sarin, Nettie Wild and Zacharias Kunuk.

VIFF’s opening film is Maudie, a Canadian-Irish-US co-production starring Ethan Hawke and Sally Hawkins. The closer is The Voyage of Time, by Terrence Malick. It’s another reimagining of the creation of the universe, this time in IMAX.

Click here for the VIFF program guide.

And visit the POV VIFF Hub for more coverage. We’ll interview Nettie Wild (Koneline), Vic Sarin (Keepers of Magic), Pete McCormack (Spirit Unforgettable), Linda Ohama (A New Moon Over Tohoku) and others.